Saturday, March 5, 2011

Remembering Norm Riley Part V

Today, I am finishing up Norm's War Story.  I hope you have enjoyed it and again, we need to thank Lisa Riley Savon for preserving these memories.  

In a few days  I was sent to Nichols Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.  During my stay at Nichols the war in both theaters ended:  Europe in March and Japan in August.  Nichols Hospital had many celebrity visitors such as Benny Goodman.  I have an autographed picture of Joan Edwards, "The Hit Parade Girl.  In June 1945, the powers that be decided to renew the Kentucky Derby which the war had put on hold on.  As you know, the traditional date for this race is the first Saturday in May, but in 1945, it was held in June.  It is the only horse race I have ever seen.  It was won by Eddie Arcaro on Hoop Jr.

At Nichols, I had two attempts to suture the radial nerve in my arm.  These were mostly unsuccessful.  The second of the attempted radial nerve suturing was on VJ Day 1945.  I got a ninety-day furlough then which I used to enter Akron U.  Before the semester was over I was called back so I could be transferred to Percy Jones Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan.  This transfer was completed swiftly enough that I could finish the semester.  I was given another ninety-day furlough which I used for another semester at Akron U.  The second ninety days didn't quite cover the semester but I was allowed early exams.

When I returned to Percy Jones Hospital it was determined that nothing more could be done to improve my arm.  I'd had enough furlough to finish two semesters of college.  The reason for this is they waited for radial nerve recovery.  They talked about reversing the tendons to correct the problem  Just before I was medically discharged, I was able to weakly raise my wrist but it never improved anymore than that  To this day that is all the recovery I have.  I also have an extra funny bone spot.  Last year (2003), I thought I had had a stroke but the doctor said it was the radial nerve acting up....I was discharged in June 1946, in time for the summer semester.  I was discharged as PFC Norman Riley at a salary of $54 plus $10 of combat pay.

On one of my furloughs I met on the train my old battalion Commander, I recognized him and he saw the 100th Division patch on my arm.  He was very affable which, of course, he wasn't to Private Riley before.  He told me that we had been given the Presidential Merit Citation for breaking through the Vosges Mountains.  This was confirmed when I received it later at home and in a history of our Company which was sent to me at home.

During this time I didn't dare hope that 60 years later I would be around to write about it, or that I would father seven children with a lady I hadn't met yet...

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