Willis Wollin

by

Jason Wollin

 

6th Grade 1993, Tri-County School, Karlstad,Minnesota

 

It was February 11, 1920 when my grandpa, Willis Wollin,was born to Otto and Marie Wollin. He was born in Greenbush, MN in hishouse. When he was a baby, his mother was sick, so a neighbor lady broughthim to her home and took care of him.

He was the ninth child of twelve children. One sisterdied when she was two years old.

After farming by Greenbush, they moved and farmed nearKennedy when Willis was five years old. There he walked a mile to a countryschool. In 1927, they moved near Karlstad where Willis continued schoolthrough seventh grade.

When he was old enough to get a driver's license, he wentto the bank and paid 25 cents. He didn't have to go to driver's trainingor take a driver's test.

For six months, Willis worked for the Civilian ConservationCorps (CCC) in 1940 at Big Fork, MN. His job was cutting wood until hehad his appendix out and then he watered trees.

He got drafted into the army on March 22, 1942. He wasstationed at Fort Lewis, Washington; Camp Hood, Texas; and Fort Dix, NewJersey.

While in Washington, he received word that both of hisparents had been killed in a car-train accident. He came home by trainso he could attend their funeral.

When he was in Texas, Willis sent Marjori Koland an engagementring. Marjorie lived across the road from his parent's farm and they hadbeen dating since 1938.

The first place he was sent to overseas was Casablanca,Africa to fight in World War II. In January of 1943, while Willis was inCasablanca, President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchillof Great Britain met to talk about the war. Willis was not aware of thissecret meeting until they had left.

When Willis was in Africa, he sometimes slept in foxholesand used his helmet for a pillow. Later, they realized how dangerous itwas to sleep in foxholes.

After Africa, he was stationed at Italy, France, a smallportion of Germany, and two weeks in Austria. The longest time was spentin Italy.

The Germans surrounded them up in the mountains in Cassino,Italy for 56 days. Apparently the Germans never realized they were thereor they surely would have attacked. Finally, the U.S. Air Force bombedthe Germans enough so they could get out.

One day an enemy artillery shell hit beside him and madea hold as big as a jeep. Willis was knocked down but he was okay.

Willis's job in the war was a loader on a tank gun. Heslept many nights in the tank. One night on guard duty he heard a noiseand when they didn't respond to "What's the password?" he wasready to shoot the machine gun. Then the tank sergeant said that they shouldgo and check it out and they found it was a cow.

Willis was paid combat pay of $66 a month. If he'd beenmarried, his wife would have received $66 a month too.

When the war was over, they came home by ship, but theywere unable to bring the ship onto the shore because the shoremen were onstrike. So, they ferried the soldiers to shore.

Willis was sent to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, where he wasdischarged in October of 1945. While he was in the war, he craved ice cream,so when he got back he ate ice cream until he couldn't stand it.

Willis got married to Marjorie Koland on November 3, 1945. For the first year of marriage, they lived on the Wollin home place andfarmed with Willis's brother. Then, they moved to where they live now.

Willis and Marjorie had two boys and three girls and nowhave nine grandchildren.

Besides farming, Willis has worked for the Highway Department,has done construction work, and worked for ten years for Arctic Enterprises.

My grandpa is now 72 years old and still enjoys reading,gardening, and driving around in the country. Even though his farm is rentedout, he likes to help farm in the spring.

I wrote about my grandpa because he was in World War II. I got my information from my grandpa and grandma.dpa because he was in World War II. I got my information from my grandpa and grandma.