Last summer I reported on a visit to my friend Charles “Chick” Kiem veteran warrior of H Co., 501 PIR, 101st AB. It’s sad to say that, Chick has joined his fellow brothers once again. He lived a long and wonderful 93 years. He was a man with a ton of funny lines and dialogue. He showed me his private collection of what was left from his “WW2 booty” of the Eagles Nest. He was very fond of the senior dances on Fridays, he told me he was always after the German gale in her 80s and had a good start with her until the 96-year-old showed up and cut him out. I asked him for a picture and he insisted we take a few, he said because old people are always having their mouths open as if catching flies in photos and he wanted it done right, so he said to himself, “ close your mouth Chick”.He was charming my wife and her all laughing as he tried his best French on her, his last words as we left the doorway, finding he couldn’t convince my wife to stay was “Ce Se gare”, meaning that’s the train station, what he meant was Ce Se Guerre, that’s war.
We will miss you, rest in peace, my friend.
Report from last summer:
Charles “Chick” Kiem, 101st AB Div, 501st Company H
Chick (92) of Ontario Oregon, volunteered for the Army in 1943. While serving in the US he was put on KP (Kitchen Patrol) which was not an exciting duty for infantry. He asked a fellow soldier how to get out of the not so pleasurable task. The guy told him to volunteer for the Paratroopers. So Chick did just this. While in training he was told he would not make it, but little did they know Chick was a champion track star back home with running and sprinting. He said the training was very tough but enjoyed it completely.
After they were sent to England they did the first real mission Jump into Normandy the night before D-. D, once on the ground they began the warfighting toward Carentan. Here in this area, he was hit in the ass with a small piece of shrapnel, although he earned his first Purple Heart it was not enough to take him out of the fight.
He next jumped into Holland where he was taken prisoner for 17 days. While he was under the guard of Germans one of the soldiers had taken his homemade knife his father had sent him from home to use. The knife was returned to him 35 years later by a former English Marine who had liberated it from the German soldier. ( A good lesson in putting your initials on something). After Holland, the 101st was sent to fight in the famous defense of Bastogne where he earned a second Purple Heart but not life-threatening.
Finally, his unit was in South Germany in Berchtesgaden. His outfit made their way up the mountain and into Hitler’s luxury home the Eagles Nest; here they were relaxing and some soldiers taking booty for the road home. Chick said he had stuffed his bag full of things along the way including a German flag. The best reward was the cane he has and still uses from Hitler’s house.
Chick married his hometown girl Josephine had three kids and has several Grandchildren where they all live in Ontario.
Here chick is just before he joined with the 101st and now in August 2015 with my jacket painted by the lovely artist Anneke Helleman.