In this concluding column, Larry Oberly and this writer are completing our interview with Mrs. Beatrice Christoff, whose father, Herbert Ruch, served with the U.S. Engineers in New Guinea and Manila. I hope we did not exhaust her with all of our questions.
The war was over, but now the priority was to bring home the men and women who served in the armed services. Sgt. Ruch was stationed in Manila.
He writes, “The best rumor is that we will be on our way home by Dec. 15, 1945. Eighteen ships are due in port. There are 4,000 men ahead of us. Many ships come in and leave with thousands. I hate to leave my best friend in the Army, Adam Barko. On Christmas Day, I found out I am leaving on the USS Admiral Sims. We left the docks 6:30 a.m. and never stopped.
“We have 100 nurses on the ship. Tomorrow is new year for 4,000 of us. On Jan. 5, 1946, we were 2,000 miles from home. We had two Fridays due to crossing the international date line. We arrived in port at Los Angeles, Calif., 8 a.m. and were taken by bus to Camp Anza, Riverside, Calif. On Jan. 12, we were called out of bed 12:30 a.m. and boarded a train 1:30 a.m. We got a civilian Pullman car. We were going to Indiantown Gap. Some of the cars were going to a southern camp.
“The train ride was long and could have been tragic. The train left California, stopped at Yuma, Ariz., and Carrizozo, N.M. The stop at El Paso, Texas, was far from normal. The train jumped the track, tearing up the rails. The detailing was a real mess. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. It was good we were not driving fast.”
The men survived the war and then were fortunate to survive a wreck in Texas.
“After a delay, we reached St. Louis, Mo.; Cleveland, Ohio; Rochester, N.Y.; and finally Indiantown Gap Jan. 19, 1946. It was 24 days since we boarded the USS Sims in Manila.”
At Indiantown Gap, they were served a steak dinner. They got rid of their clothes and were given some lectures, a physical, their pay and new clothing. They went to chapel 2:30 p.m. There was so much to pray about. Sgt. Ruch and his comrades returned home safely, but many servicemen and women would never see home again. At 3 p.m., Jan. 19, 1946, he was discharged, a civilian again, and boarded a bus for Allentown. His parents were there to welcome their son. Soon, they were home.
Sgt. Ruch’s tour of duty soon would be a memory. He hoped to get his old job back at Rehrig Electric Windings in Northampton, but the shop was closed. He would be hired by Reichard-Coulston in Bethlehem and have a long career there as a dedicated employee, retiring after 30 years of service.
His name is among many who served the nation on a plaque of honor across from St. John’s United Church of Christ in Howertown, where he was an active member.
Herbert married Francis Smith in 1948 and raised four fine daughters: Barbara Ruch Christman, Bonnie Ruch Herzog, Beatrice Ruch Christoff and Betty Ruch Genovese.
This writer and Larry Oberly thank Beatrice and her husband for their kindness and cooperation. Mrs. Christoff, a former student of this writer, had a long career at PPL Electric. Her husband, Stanley, worked at both Coplay and Dragon cement companies and later retired after a rewarding career at Air Products.
All the World War II columns we have written about continue to tell us freedom is priceless.