Roger Haberer – Normandy, Days after the Invasion
Roger Haberer clearly remembers the day he was picked with a group of men to be dropped off at Normandy, France. They arrived on June 15th, 1944, only nine days after the beginning of Operation Overlord, the D-Day invasion which led to the Allied victory in Europe. He said the beach was far from being cleared off from all the fighting. Corporal Haberer had been trained in the Army Air Corp’s 9th Air Force, 1st Mobile Photo Supply & Maintenance Division as part of a massive support group for the final push to Germany. The 9th Air Force was by far the largest tactical air component in the European Theatre. It had been officially reconstituted in the United Kingdom on October 16, 1943.
Roger was born December 23, 1921 in Dimmitt, Texas. His dad had been in the Army during WWI but was stationed stateside during that war. He had spent most of his life helping his dad farm. But on November 9th, 1942, just before his 21st birthday, Roger enlisted in the Army Air Corps on at the Lubbock County Courthouse. He remembered that “all the armed services were set up there to receive enlistees.” He did his “limited amount of basic training at Lubbock Airfield.” By this point during the war, men (and women) were needed on so many fronts that much of the training was shortened to get them assigned as quickly as possible. He said he “and a few other men were trained to ride military motorcycles to deliver messages, but we used them to go to the PX (Post Exchange) and buy beers and give nurses a ride to the hospital.” They were soon caught doing this, and “that was the end of the motorcycles.”
Six men out of his 1017th Guard Squadron were shipped out to Camp Kilmer, New York where they boarded a “Victory Ship” bound for duty outside of London, England. His ship held around 5000 troops and took two weeks to cross the Atlantic. He and a few other men from his squadron were picked as “casualty replacements” and were shipped over to Normandy, France. After spending “a few days on the beach in pup tents where it seemed to rain all the time”, Roger and a few other men decided to “move inland and see what was going on.” They hitched a ride on an Army Air Corps convoy attached to the 94th Air Depot Group and wound up outside Paris, France. They had to “find their own accommodations”, so they found a house that was “shot full of holes and patched it up as best they could”. That stay didn’t last long as “a push north was being made to follow the troops through northern France after the retreating German army.” This massive push would require an equally massive supply and re-supply effort. Roger mentioned that there was a “terrible traffic jam of convoys from all different types of Allied units.” He recalls using his helmet to “shave, wash and even eat K-rations out of.” He said the basic helmet was a very versatile piece of gear for all soldiers.
After a time in Cambrai, France, Roger wound up in Liege, Belgium, where he spent the rest of the war. He began flying on C-47 cargo planes back and forth to England to pick up supplies. After one of these trips, when he arrived back in Belgium, his outfit told him how lucky he was, because the Army had just been there looking for casualty replacements for the front line.
He was finally able to head for home in September 1945 aboard a “Liberty Ship”, but the trip was not easy. They had to “endure a big storm and high seas. A lot of the men got sick and weren’t sure if they were going to survive the Atlantic crossing this time.”
When Roger returned to Muleshoe, he contacted one of his buddies and said he “figured he needed to find a wife and settle down”. However, his friend told him that most all of the girls he knew had either graduated or left town. He did “know of one schoolteacher” that was available, and set Roger up on a blind date with Joy Saunders. They married on March 16, 1946. She had just turned 20 and Roger was 25. They had a son Davey and a daughter Camille. Davey later served in the Army himself. After farming, banking and other jobs, Roger “retired three times and retired for the last time from City Bank in Springlake at 85 years old!” Joy Haberer passed away on May 30th 2015. Roger had this to say about her, “It was a blind date that lasted 69 years.”
Roger was awarded the Good Conduct, the American Theatre Campaign, European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign and WWII Victory medals. He went on the 2013 Texas South Plains Honor Flight and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Roger passed away on March 2, 2017.
Respectfully submitted by,
Larry A. Williams
Veterans Liaison Co-Chair
Texas South Plains Honor Flight Board