Last night’s behind the scenes event “The Things They Carried Home” offered a rare glimpse at the many artifacts from collections that have never been displayed publicly. The theme focused on items that soldiers carried with them during war and then home. Six stations displayed items they used on the job, religious items, native artwork, rest & relaxation items, money and postage and a station devoted to the newest collection donated to the Marshall Foundation: the Lloyd Nemnich Collection.
In 1942, Lloyd Edwin Nemnich was a 22 year old young man who had grown up in rural Kansas. He was working at Whitney Automotive in Miltonvale, KS as WW2 escalated and many young men were being called to serve. His induction came in Dec. 1941 and he first went to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He entered Basic Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky on June 2, 1942.
Lt. Nemnich was initially assigned to the 343rd Field Artillery Unit, 90th Infantry Division until the end of February 1944 when he was reassigned to the 375th Field Artillery Battalion of the 100th Infantry Division. With the 100th, Lloyd participated in the Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns. He served as a forward observer, directing fire of the 105 MM-Howitzer Battery in support of the infantry unit.
On November 21, 1944, in a battle near Raon L-Etape, France, Nemnich was wounded in action. His wound was caused by a sniper’s bullet that entered the right side of his neck, first glazing his right cheek, and then exiting from his back below his left shoulder. He recalls having to stay in the fox hole for the night until he could be transported to the nearest general hospital.
When interviewed for a radio program in 2015 at the anniversary of D-Day, he was asked how he felt when he realized he had been shot. He responded, “Stupid. Stupid for sticking my head out where it shouldn’t have been.” He never considered himself as having done anything heroic.
Nemnich was awarded a Bronze Star medal on Nov. 30, 1944 while at the hospital recovering. His actions were described this way, “Carrying heavy radio equipment on his back, Nemnich was hampered by mountains, forests and cloudy, rainy weather but performed a superior job that ended only when he was seriously wounded.” On Dec. 7, 1944 he was awarded the Purple Heart medal and on December 16, 1944 he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. Other medals he earned for his service in the War were the Victory Medal, American Theater Ribbon, and the EAME Theater Ribbon.
Nemnich tells how the prisoners were very talented, creating ash trays from parts of artillery, beautifully engraved with his name. There is one on his desk in this picture, as well as the wooden carving of his name.
The prisoners did the cooking, barbering, other daily tasks, as well. They were primarily awaiting release back to Germany, though a few would be tried for war crimes.
On December 18, 1953, nearly 8 years later, he was honorably discharged from the Armed Forces.