It was just 10 days before the attack on Pearl Harbor that Carl Bob Mindrup was drafted into the U.S. Army.
When I went in, they told us the war would be over in a year, said the 94-year-old Alhambra man. It ended up being four years. Mindrup guarded U.S. air bases for the duration, 1941-1945, attaining the rank of sergeant. He escaped the war unharmed, but in war, one never knows.
Darn right I was scared, he said. There were times I could hardly sleep.
Mindrup said he was fortunate, though.
... But a lot of our guys had it rougher, especially the ones who were sent to Belgium and France, he added. Mindrup had some misfortunes along the way. His ship was damaged by what he presumes was an enemy torpedo while traveling to India.
I still dont know what in the hell happened, he said.
Mindrup said his ship had to travel the long way to India, because the Suez Canal was under Italian control, an Axis power. There was a time when Mindrup feared the ship, carrying 13,000 troops, might sink.
I just had to ride it out, he said. There wasnt much I could do.
His ship ended up being safely dry docked in South Africa for a couple of weeks while crews made emergency repairs on it. Mindrup said he will never forget that two-month ship ride. He remembered beds being placed in a row, five to six beds high in the ship.
,It was like sleeping in a coffin, he said.
Mindrup recently returned to Alhambra after being on an Illinois Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
Mindrup said the Honor Flight was an incredible experience.
He was accompanied on the trip with his son, John. Like his dad, John Mindrup is a U.S. Army veteran.
The Mindrups were able to get on the June 10 flight to Washington, D.C., which flew out of Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield.
The Honor Flight program is a nationwide program dedicated to providing all veterans who apply, a free trip to the nations capital to visit memorials honoring their service and sacrifice.
After attending a special dinner hosted by the Northender VFW Post 10309 and spending the night in Springfield, the Mindrups, flew to D.C.
While on the flight, each veteran was given a complimentary T-shirt, which Bob proudly wore.
During the trip, the veterans visited the World War II Memorial, Washington Monument, Vietnam Memorial Wall, Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Even though Bob walks very well, John opted to get a wheel chair for his father, so that he could enjoy seeing everything without getting worn out.
I ended up pushing him a wheelchair about five miles that day, John said.
Bob Mindrup said seeing the monuments was awe inspiring.
I had never been to Washington, D.C. before, he said.
The Mindrups were equally impressed with the strangers, who came up to shake their hands.
During their flight home, Bob was presented with a quilt for being the oldest veteran on the flight.
After their return landing in Springfield, the veterans were greeted by more than 500 more people, who came out to show their appreciation for their veterans.
And it was midnight, Bob said.
Returning to Alhambra
Bob Mindrup returned to Alhambra after World War II ended in 1945.
Shortly after returning, he met and married the former Esther Reckman.
Bob recalled a friend setting him up with the late Esther for a blind date.
Bob and Esther were married for 56 years before Esther passed away in 2002.
She was a hard worker, raising all seven of our children, Bob said and smiled. She was a saint.
Alhambra reporter Freddie Riepshoff contributed to this story.