Goshen News, Goshen, IN

July 5, 2013

VETERAN PROFILE: Kurtz answered the call

During Cold War, Kurtz left Middlebury farm when he was drafted

By SHEILA SELMAN
THE GOSHEN NEWS

— GOSHEN - Sitting in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Goshen among fellow veterans and honor guard members is Bud Kurtz.

Kurtz and the others are preparing for a funeral detail as another veteran is laid to rest.

Pointing to the other uniform-clad men in the room, Kurtz said, “This is why Americans should continue to celebrate Independence Day.”

“It means an awful lot to me,” Kurtz said with tears welling. “I can’t imagine not flying the flag and being proud of where we live.”

Then moving his gaze to a framed picture of the famous photo of soldiers raising the American flag at Iwo Jima, Kurtz, an Army veteran said, “That picture over there. That’s why (Independence Day should be observed). They didn’t come home.”

Many who have served in the American armed forces for the past 237 years were like Kurtz — men going about their daily lives until their nation called them to duty.

Prior to being drafted in November 1956, Kurtz was farming in Millersburg with his dad, Delbert. He had graduated from Millersburg High School in 1952 and four years later he received his draft papers and was sent to Fort Leonard Wood.

Kurtz trained as a clerk/typist in the Army and ended up serving with the 68th Engineer Supply Depot, supplying all spare parts to American forces in Europe.

The Korean War had ended in 1953 and the Cold War was raging. Kurtz was living in Tompkins Barracks located east of the Rhine River in Germany, west of Heidelberg in the town of Schwetzingen.

Tompkins Barracks had been Nazis Gen. Rommel’s headquarters for one of his Panzer divisions during World War II.

Kurtz said Rommel had painted red crosses on the barracks so Allied forces wouldn’t bomb it. The plan worked.

“They were beautiful barracks we were in,” Kurtz said.

Troops staying there were told that if an incident happened with the Soviets to get on the west side of the Rhine as quickly as possible. Nothing ever occurred.

“I became apprehensive one time,” Kurtz said. “Other than that, I had no fear, no apprehension.”

But to be honest, he said, “I never felt that my basic training was sufficient for combat.”

Kurtz was overseas for 18 months.

When he returned home, Kurtz went back to farming with his dad. “But that didn’t work out,” he said.

He then ran a Burger Dairy route and eventually started his own construction business, Update Brothers, in 1972 or ‘73. He operated that for 30 years until his retirement.

Kurtz said he has been married twice. He had one daughter with his first wife. And then in 1979, he married his current wife, Sue. She had two sons, Jeff and Joel.

The couple have lived in the same house near Goshen Municipal Airport since their marriage.

Now that Kurtz is retired, he plays golf, which he just took up three years ago, mows the lawn and gardens.

He’s also a member of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter in Goshen and the American Legion Post in Millersburg. He serves on the Honor Guard, usually holding the POW/MIA flag.