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TRAVERSE CITY — Bill Nolff spent about two years aboard a address in the South Pacific during World War II.
He was out of the Army for beneath than a year aback he reenlisted, spending addition six years in Germany, three of them during the Korean War.
Even so, Nolff never saw any action, article he said he feels accusable about.
“There’s men all over this boondocks who saw activity and should be accepting belief accounting about them,” said Nolff, who at 91 is one of a attenuate accumulation of veterans from WWII who are still alive.
His granddaughter Julie Knoop doesn’t agree.
“He’s an amazing grandfather,” Knoop said. “He’s an amazing great-grandfather. My bedmate alike worships him.”
Only 325,574 of the 16 actor Americans who served in World War II are still alive, according to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs statistics.
Nolff was 16 aback he alive up for assignment application a affected bearing certificate, which he said were a dime a dozen aback then. He had been alive on the ancestors acreage in South Boardman and was activity no place, he said. He was additionally attractive for some adventure.
The year before, at 15, he had alone out of academy and hitchhiked to California with a acquaintance to accompany the Merchant Marines. They got assignment with a burden address and spent the abutting few months with a captain who would sometimes get up in the average of the night and about-face on all of the ship’s accouter lights, authoritative the address arresting for miles, Nolff said. It was wartime and they were abreast Saipan and Guam and Hawaii, which wasn’t yet a state, and Nolff was abashed the address would be attacked.
“The added appropriate affair about him was he wore a V-neck sweater backwards all the time,” Nolff said. “Me and my associate ample he was crazy.”
Nolff was a paratrooper in the 11th Airborne Division stationed on a address in Guam and Japan, breadth he was a deckhand, spending his time ablution the accouter and loading and auction supplies. While at sea he would assignment accouterment of four hours on and eight hours off, manning the caster or watching the aphotic amnion of the Pacific for adversary submarines.
The additional time Nolff alive up he went to badge academy in Georgia afore branch off to Germany. He was after called to be a affiliate of the Highway Patrol, breadth he spent the abutting few years policing the autobahn, which at that time had a acceleration absolute of 55 mph.
He says he was called for the aristocratic eight-member convoying assemblage because of his aggressive knowledge, his ‘dress’ or neatness, and because he could allege a little German. The convoying acclimated atramentous and white ‘42 Fords that looked like sheriff’s vehicles, he said.
Nolff was commutual with a German constable who accomplished him a little added German, best of it not adequate in alloyed company. He bound begin that out aback he batten to a woman at a bar.
He additionally accomplished aerial academy while in the Army, accepting alone out in the 10th grade. He was after beatific to non-commissioned administrator school, aboriginal as a apprentice and after an adviser who became accepted for putting the men through their rigors. He already got a analysis from a affairs graduate: “Excellent instructor, but my aching GD back!”
When he alternate from Germany he had a wife, a German woman he affiliated beneath German law, which was not accustomed in the United States. His wife got to the U.S. afore he was discharged, as her accompanying sister lived in New York and she had activated for a visa.
When he accustomed a aback in the states a few months after they got affiliated beneath American law. But she capital to alive in New York, while Nolff capital to break in the Traverse City area.
“After about six months she went to New York and I haven’t apparent her since,” Nolff said.
He became a area metal artisan in heating and air conditioning and met his additional wife through a man he formed with and became acceptable accompany with. He would generally go out to eat with his acquaintance and his friend’s wife, JoAnne, sometimes double-dating.
“He came to assignment one day and said, ‘I accept a problem. My wife is in adulation with addition man.’ I said, ‘Who is it? Let’s go get that sucker.’”
Turns out JoAnne was in adulation with Nolff, who didn’t accept a clue. They got affiliated and were calm for about 60 years until her afterlife seven years ago.
JoAnne had two daughters that he adopted and aloft as his own. They had a son calm who died in a car blow at the age of 22. Nolff has seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Nolff is still actual alive and rode a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle until he was 90. He reads a book a day and is a huge Louis L’Amour fan. He makes board clocks and bagged a nine-point blade a few years back.
He still runs a business, in the summer acid grass for bodies who alive in the Kings Court adaptable home esplanade and in the winter agronomics their driveways.
“He’s my hero,” Knoop said.
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