The Veterans Room
The Claude Hollenback Story: Excerpt From Heritage of the Hills Magazine Vol. 34, Fall
· At the school bus stop by Erve's store, Claude met the love of his life, Alta Mae Hendren. They were married March 15, 1941 when Claude was 17 years old. Claude discovered his calling as a carpenter at Camp Gruber near Muskogee.... On September 9, 1943 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Claude enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a member of the Rainbow Division 142nd Engineering Combat Battalion. The division would need to clear the roads, highways, buildings, defensive barriers such as the Siegfried Line, and prepare for the invasion of Germany.... In May of 2004, at the age of 81, at Betty's home in Decatur, Arkansas, Veterans Affairs Officer Steve Gray recognized Claude for his acts of heroism while serving in the United States Army with a presentation of medals. At that ceremony, Officer Gray read a letter from Congressman Boozman's office to Claude and his family as follows: "It took some time and some training, but finally the day came to ship to the European Theater of Operations. The war in Africa, the Middle East, and Italy had been raging for over two years when you (Claude) arrived in France. The 42nd Infantry Division had just relieved the 36th Division, engaging the enemy around Strasbourg, France when you and other members of the 142nd Engineering Combat Battalion arrived. The division would need to clear the roads, highways, buildings, defensive barriers such as the Siegfried Line (a huge hedgerow- miles long) and prepare for the invasion of Germany. A week after you arrived, having successfully thwarted the enemy's counter attacks along the 31-mile banks of the Rhine River, your unit began the offensive. In mid February, you attacked the Germans in the Hardt Mountains and broke through the Siegfried Line on March 21...."