Dear Cass, I Love You

Introduction -- The Four Star German American Family

Cast of Characters
Introduction -- The Four Star German American Family
Chapter 1 -- Short History of Germany & the Hildenbrand Family Early Years
Chapter 2 -- Letters To Cass & Dutch -- Pre-Draft & Marraige
Chapter 3 -- Letters To Cass & Dutch -- June 1943 -- Basic Training
Chapter 4 -- Letters To Cass & Dutch -- July 1943
Chapter 5 -- Letters To Cass & Dutch -- August 1943
Chapter 6 -- Letters To Cass & Dutch -- September 1943
Chapter 7 -- Letter To Cass & Dutch -- October 1943
Chapter 8 -- Letters To Cass & Dutch -- November 1943 -- From U.S. to North Africa
Chapter 9 -- Letters To Cass & Dutch -- December 1943
Chapter 10 -- Letters to Cass & Dutch -- January 1944
Chapter 11 -- Letters to Cass & Dutch -- February & March 1944
Chapter 12 -- Prisoner of War Letters & Postcards -- April 1944 to January 1945
Battle of Casino
Going Home
Prisoner of War Book -- Part I
Prisoner of War Book -- Part II
Letters to Dutch & Cass From Friends/Family
Rudy's Room -- Rudy Hildenbrand -- U.S. Army Air Corps
Eric's Room -- Eric Hildenbrand -- Marines
Herbie's Room -- Herbert Hildenbrand -- Navy
Family Photos
Family Plot
Other Links of Interest




Rudolph Hildenbrand Sr. came from Germany to Ellis Island, New York in 1927 along with his four boys -- Rudy, age 7, Eric, age 6, Carl, age 5 and Herby, age 4.  Rosa Hildenbrand [Rieker], his wife, came the following year February 5, 1928 on the USS Columbus.   




                   They settled in Philadelphia where they raised their four children and learned to speak English.  Rudolph Sr. got a job at the Wilkening Mfg. Company, in Philadelphia. Eric and Rudy later worked at the same plant.  Rosa, a housewife,  stayed home and took care of the boys.  She also raised pedigree dogs.  By looking at the family pictures, they seemed to be a happy and prosperous family living the American dream.


                       But in the late thirties, Hitler came into power in Germany and started a war with Europe which caused significant problems for German immigrants. In December 1941, Japan invaded Pearl Harbor causing America to declare war with Germany and Japan.  Rudolph, Dutch's father,  registered for the draft at age 49.





                      Rudy the oldest boy, enlisted in the Army Air Corps on August 8, 1941.  He became a gunner and assistant radio operator on a B-17 [known as the Flying Fortress].  He was stationed in England, where he flew bombing missions over Germany. He flew many missions and received a Presidential Citation.  He survived the war with flying colors.


                        Eric entered the Marines in 1942 with his buddy Robert Bodine, who turned out to be a life long family friend. In 1944, they went to the Solomon Islands to fight the Japanese; Robert Bodine contracted malaria while he there and was left behind. Eric’s troops boarded a transport ship [U.S.S. McKean] to be transported to another island in November.  While the ship was in route, off the coast of Bougainville, the USS. McKean was attacked by a Japanese fighter plane.  The USS McKean was directly hit and Eric was killed on November 17. The ship sunk.  Of 185 Marines on board, 52 were killed.  Unfortunately, Eric was one. There also were 153 Navy personnel on board, 64 of whom were killed.  Total death toll was 116.


                         Dutch, at age 20,  married Catherine Rush [Cass], a girl from south west Philly.  They met while she was a waitress at a restaurant. In June 1943, Dutch entered the Army, leaving behind a pregnant wife [Cass] and a child [Kathleen] age 6 months. In late November 1943, he was shipped out and briefly stationed in North Africa not yet aware of Eric’s death.  In early January 1944,  the 36 infantry division 141st, of which Dutch was a member, went to fight in the Italian campaign.  He was captured at the Battle of Cassino. Dutch was taken prisoner of war [P.O.W.] at Stalag 2b in Germany [now Poland]. He remained there; almost until the end of the war .


                      Herbie, the youngest of the four Hildenbrand sons, entered the Navy in 1944.   


Note from WOLF:   Judy Stone author of this article became a well known in the entertainment Industry and wrote many books. This is her site . 

Copyright James A. Hildenbrand 2009, 2010, 2011