Herman Addleson

Herman Addleson
War World War II
Branch U.S. Army
Rank Private
Group Type
Group Name
Grid bb0
Wall BB
Direction West
Row 5
Plaque Number 9

While Harry served with the Seabees, his wife Ida moved to San Diego to be with her parents, Louis and Fannie Addleson. She had plenty of company at the family home: her brothers Herman and Harry were living there, as were a niece and nephew, Alan and Marian Mishne, the children of Ida\'s twin sister, Rose. Subsequently, Harry Addleson joined the Navy and was assigned to a post at Ream Field, located in the San Diego suburb of Imperial Beach, California.

Sadie Addleson Breitbard, one of Ida\'s sisters, told Charles Wax that their brother Herman\'s cleft lip initially precluded him from joining the service, but recruiters said if he had it repaired, he could be accepted into the Army. The cost of the surgery was out of the family\'s range, until a former San Diegan, Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams, heard of the predicament of his former schoolmate and fellow baseball lover. (Herman sold peanuts at the Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres games). Williams graciously helped pay the cost of Herman\'s successful surgery.

Herman told some of his wartime story in letters to Dr. Lauren C. Post, a geography professor at San Diego State College (later University), who published a newsletter for and about SDSU alumni serving in the Armed Forces.

On November 5, 1942, Herman wrote in a note from Camp Blanding, Florida, that some of his classmates already had achieved officer rank, and added: “I feel funny in writing and not being in the same class as they. Yet even as a “buck private” (with hopes of officer training), I feel that I am proud to serve my country, no matter how small or how large my rank may be.

On September 18, 1943, while assigned to Camp Forrest, Tennessee, he told of his regimen training to become a paratrooper. “We run or shall I say ‘doubletime’ 6 mi, then do exercise, pushups, knee bend, etc. for 2 hrs, then take up other phases of parachute training. It (is) great & I like it, in five weeks I’ll be jumping from 1200 ft.”

He described that first jump in an evocative letter Nov. 17, 1943 from Fort Benning, Georgia:

“My first jump was Monday, Oct. 18, 1943, a day I’ll never forget as long as I live. We were all up at 5:45 a.m. that morning, many of us had a very restless night. Our thoughts ran in common, I guess, for our past seemed to flash through all of our minds. It was cold & foggy that day & us we marched over to the field, we were all trying to sing. Yes, sing, even if our voices did crack a little. Everyone was excited, nervous & mostly scared. As we took our parachutes out of the bins, I looked at mine & I guess I said a pray(er). ‘Please dear chute open for me.’ As we lined up, 24 men in front of the plane, my knees felt like water. Before we got into the plane we were checked five times to make sure we had everything o.k. As we step(ped) in the plane & sat down, buckled ourselves to the seats, everyone was joking & trying to sing. Before we knew it the plane went down the runway & we were looking at the ground disappear beneath our feet. There’s a fellow called the ‘Jump master’ who gives the orders. When we were at 200 ft., everyone trying to cheer-up everyone else, the jump master’s voice sounded like some immortal soul. “Get Ready,” he hollered. At this point every man turned white, or all colors. Yes, the big one, tough ones, officers & soldiers, were scared. A pin could be heard, that’s how still it became. Only the roar of the motors. The next commands came very fast. ‘Stand Up,’ everyone of us managed to stand and grab the cable above our head. ‘Hook Up,’ ‘Check Equipment’ & ‘Sound Off,’ were all done automatic(ally). Then ‘Stand in the Door,’ everyone fixes his eyes on the door. The Jump master taps the first man & hollers ‘go.’ Out we go, & when you leave the door the prop-blast takes you away. You drop 75 ft. to 100 ft. before your chute opens. In that time, you don’t know you (are) falling. Then you hear a crack of a whip sound, & you look up & there is the most beautiful sight in the world. The canopy is open & all is fine. Your descent (is) about 14-20 ft. per second so you are down before you know it. After you (are) on the ground, the tension over, you holler with joy & slap each other on the back. Each jump after that is the same, only with more tensifying (sic) fear as you know what’s coming. Yet it is safe as driving a car or anything else that has the word safe with it. Don’t forget, its right here, where the boys are separated from the men. I am now going to school, specialist school to become a rigger…”

On February 10, 1944, he wrote from sea: “Yes, sir! We are now on the boat, destination unknow(n). You’ve heard how tough the paratroopers are. How rugged in physical endeavor, but what you don’t know is how these same men felt as we boarded the ship & left the soil of U.S.A. From the ‘Staten Island Fairy (sic)’ to the boat was something to witness. First we joked & kidded as we passed familiar signs along the harbor like, ‘Maxwell House Coffee,’ ‘Bethlehem Steel,’ ‘Colgate Soap & Perfume’ and then that thing that stopped the crowd, the ‘Statue of Liberty.’ Tough guys had tears in there (sic) eyes, many stood gazing open mouth, many a heart was in one’s mouth, with a feeling of emptiness in the pit of the stomach. The Statue of Liberty was beautiful & as she disappeared Long Island came in view, then Brooklyn & what memories & laughs we all had. Then as some giant hand (was) pushing us way out, land seemed far off, New York skyline seem(ed) to diminish. When that disappeared & a (sic) possibilities of seeing land of U.S.A., was gone, we just leaned back & silence was a bliss as we all thought of what we left behind & what we are fighting for….This boat is so compacted a sardine has more room than we do…”

On May 1, 1944, a little more than a month before D-Day, he wrote what would be the final letter in the collection: “Seems like a lot of Aztecs (San Diego State nickname) are over here, yet I haven’t been able to get around to locate any, except Tom Rice & Guy Sessions, buddy paratroopers. We are going to give those Nazi(s) hell on “D” Day, so you can see old Aztec is well represented in the {101st} Airborne outfit….If I get back alive, tell ‘Cotton’ to move over with the snow jobs, I’ll really have the latest stuff.”

Herman did not “get back alive.” He drowned after landing in a flooded field during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. He was awarded a Purple Heart posthumously.

In taking note of his death, San Diego State University\'s Daily Aztec wrote: \"Pvt. Herman Addleson was killed in Normandy on D-Day when he landed with the first paratroops. The official notification came to his parents following the official message saying that he was missing. Unfortunately, a fellow Aztec had reported Pvt. Addleson as being in France with him, but he seems to have been in error. “

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