Civil Ser­vice sec­re­tary ex­pe­ri­ences Europe

The Covington News - - Local - PETE MECCA COLUM­NIST Pete Mecca is a Viet­nam vet­eran, free­lance writer and colum­nist. You can contact him at avet­er­ansstory@gmail.com.

A sel­dom men­tioned group of pa­tri­ots from World War II were the ded­i­cated men and women of the Civil Ser­vice. From the Civil Air Pa­trol to a clerk typ­ist, mem­bers of the Civil Ser­vice played a vi­tal role. Their will­ing­ness to ded­i­cate tal­ents and time in non-com­bat po­si­tions re­leased un­told thou­sands of men for es­sen­tial mil­i­tary du­ties. Miriam “Mickey” Stan­ley Ho­gan was one such tal­ent.

Born in 1918 into the tiny farm­ing community of Men­des, Ga., Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent Miriam “Mickey” Ho­gan ex­pe­ri­enced the Great De­pres­sion. “Food and jobs were scarce,” she said. “We moved around a lot, in­clud­ing Florida.”

Mickey was in the first class from Day­tona Beach H.S. to hold grad­u­a­tion ser­vices on the pow­dery sands. She said, “I re­mem­ber the school band played ‘The Blue Danube’ for us on the beach. That was spe­cial.” The fam­ily even­tu­ally moved to Tampa, Fla.

Af­ter at­tend­ing busi­ness col­lege, Mickey served as a church sec­re­tary un­til her fa­ther came home from work on Dec. 7, 1941. “We were play­ing cro­quet in the front yard,” she said. “Dad walked up and said, ‘Haven’t you heard the news? Pearl Har­bor was bombed.’ Well, we stayed glued to the ra­dio af­ter that. We knew war had come.”

Her clan was al­ready in the fight. “One un­cle was on the USS Mon­aghan at Pearl Har­bor. He was eat­ing break­fast when the at­tack be­gan and ran top­side in time to see their gun­ners sink a Ja­panese two-man midget sub.” (The Mon­aghan was given credit for sink­ing the only midget sub that may have en­tered Pearl Har­bor).

Mickey took and passed a Civil Ser­vice Exam and qual­i­fied for duty in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. “I worked at the War Depart­ment cat­e­go­riz­ing sol­diers’ records un­til given an op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­view for a sec­re­tar­ial po­si­tion.” She served out the war as a per­sonal sec­re­tary to four of­fi­cers, plus de­liv­ered mail in the mas­sive com­plex — on roller skates.

Her fi­ancé Fran­cis Felix Ho­gan, served aboard a Navy troop car­rier USS Le­je­une, mak­ing 17 At­lantic cross­ings de­liv­er­ing troops and bring­ing home the wounded. Mickey greeted Fran­cis each time he made port. She said, “One of my girl­friends tracked mil­i­tary con­voys, a se­cret job, but we used the inside in­for­ma­tion to meet our boyfriends or hus­bands when their ships docked.”

As Amer­ica cel­e­brated the end of World War II, Mickey was asked to vol­un­teer for post-war duty in Ger­many. “I called my fi­ancé to ask his opin­ion. There was si­lence on the other line. I said, ‘Fran­cis, are you still there?’ He fi­nally said, “I’m think­ing! I’m think­ing!’ Then he said, ‘I’ll hold down the farm (given to them by his mother in Mis­souri) and you go. This may be your only chance to see Europe.’ So, I was on my way to Ger­many.”

Frank­fort, Ger­many — 1946: As­signed as head of the sec­re­tar­ial pool, Mickey and her girls (sur­vivors of Hitler’s no­to­ri­ous camps) worked dili­gently to help find MIA (Miss­ing in Ac­tion) in­for­ma­tion for the griev­ing fam­i­lies back home, among other sec­re­tar­ial du­ties. “I es­corted the girls to the front gate af­ter work,” she said. “Se­cu­rity was still tight.”

One of her ‘girls’ had a sick mother, so Mickey bought the fam­ily needed food and sup­plies. “She thanked me with a beau­ti­ful pewter beer stein,” Mickey said. “I loved it, but when an Amer­i­can lieu­tenant of­fered me $300 for it, I pon­dered, ‘What would it be worth back home?’ so I kept it.” Mickey started swap­ping her cig­a­rette and liquor coupons with mil­i­tary per­son­nel will­ing to search the rub­ble of dam­aged build­ings for beer steins. “I didn’t smoke or drink so why not?” she said. Mickey owns a fab­u­lous col­lec­tion of 14 price­less Ger­man beer steins.

Mickey and her room­mate Linda, lived in a third floor off-base apart­ment tended to by a Ger­man maid. “Our maid Erika, was an op­tometrist, but those jobs went to the men.” Erika liked Mickey’s black and white sad­dle ox­fords. Mickey drew an out­line of Erika’s foot on pa­per, sent it to her par­ents, and they sent Erika a pair of sad­dle ox­fords. Mickey said, “I ex­pect Erika was the only op­tometrist maid in Ger­many wear­ing sad­dle ox­fords.” Erika and Mickey dis­cussed writ­ing a novel on Erika’s po­lit­i­cal cap­tiv­ity dur­ing the war us­ing the fic­tional name, Cean, for the main pro­tag­o­nist. They never wrote the book, but both of their first daugh­ters are named Cean.

Mickey and her room­mate took week­end trips to Hol­land, Switzer­land, France, Italy and war-torn Cze­choslo­vakia. “Cze­choslo­vakia was heart­break­ing,” she said. “Notes on build­ings in­di­cated the num­ber of peo­ple shot or mur­dered or bombed inside.”

On one sight­see­ing ex­cur­sion to a huge cas­tle out­side of Frank­fort, Mickey and her room­mate broke a few reg­u­la­tions. She said, “We were only al­lowed on the ground floor; the up­per floors were of­fi­cer quar­ters. When a car blew a tire out­side the guard rushed out to in­ves­ti­gate what sounded like an ex­plo­sion. Well, Linda and I ran up­stairs to have a look-see.” They ‘looked’ un­til hear­ing foot­steps ap­proach. “We saw a door sign ‘BAD’ which is Ger­man for Bath. We went inside and closed the door, scared half to death un­til the foot­steps faded away. When I turned around I got the sur­prise of my life!”

Gold door han­dles, gold faucets, gold toi­lets, gold mir­ror frames, gold ev­ery­thing. “We couldn’t be­lieve it,” Mickey said. “When Linda saw me star­ing at the gold toi­let she said, ‘You’re not go­ing to are you?’ and I said, ‘Linda, when are we ever go­ing to get an­other op­por­tu­nity to use a gold toi­let?’ Well, I did, and so did she; then we got the heck out of there, es­pe­cially af­ter I peeked inside the bed­room and saw a gen­eral’s uni­form hang­ing from the bedpost.”

Af­ter serv­ing 15 months in Ger­many, Mickey re­turned home and mar­ried Fran­cis within two weeks. She said, “We farmed in the cold of Mis­souri but I got snowed in once for 14 days. When Fran­cis came home I said, ‘Lookie here, I don’t know about you but I’m headin’ on back to Florida!” Dade City, Fla., would be called home for many years to come.

In 1980, Mickey, her room­mate Linda and their for­mer maid Erika, re­united in San Pe­dro, Calif., for three weeks of mem­o­ries — about war, about friend­ship.

On World War II: “I en­joyed Civil Ser­vice,” Mickey said. “World War II was a sad time and a good time. I lost fam­ily in the war; I made good friends in the war; and I’ll re­mem­ber all of them for­ever.”

Miriam “Mickey” Stan­ley Ho­gan on Anzio Beach in Italy next to a Ger­man ma­chine gun bunker.

Ho­gan present day at her home in Cov­ing­ton.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.