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Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

War bride reflects on her marriage

Thursday, February 14, 2002

SIKESTON- Eighty-two-year-old Nadine Koch is sitting in a chair in her living room, gazing out the window to her backyard on a sunny February afternoon. She recalls the time period that she and her late husband, Marvin, were very much a part of- World War II.

"Marvin and I were married on Sunday, Sept. 8, 1940," Mrs. Koch said. "I remember it so well, and that week, they drew the lottery for the draft. He was picked."

Mrs. Koch and her husband weren't the only couples to get married before, during or after the war. During World War II, many couples often married quickly. The women of these couples were labeled as "war brides."

Although Mrs. Koch doesn't consider herself a war bride because she and her husband were engaged a year prior to their wedding, she does however, like many other women, know what it was like to be married to a man in the service during the war.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States joined World War II.

On Dec. 14, 1942, the Kochs welcomed their first son, and six months later in June of 1943, Koch was stationed for Naval training on an island outside of San Francisco, Calif.

Mrs. Koch said her husband was in training for two months, and she wasn't allowed to see him. The couple decided that Mrs. Koch and their son should move back to her hometown in Missouri to be with her parents.

After completing training, Koch, a member of U.S. Navy Coast Guard, was restationed to Long Beach, Calif., on shore patrol. Because Koch got every third night off from training, Mrs. Koch moved back to California so she could see her husband. Mrs. Koch recalled traveling back and forth between Missouri and California by train, and estimated she probably made six trips total during the time her husband was stationed on the West Coast.

Mrs. Koch laughed as she remembered one train ride where she spent $65 on tips so the people working on the train would warm up her baby's bottles.

On May 12, 1945, Mrs. Koch gave birth to the couple's second son. That same day Koch was put on a ship to go overseas, but the ship went into dry dock because it had been in a battle and needed to be repaired, Mrs. Koch said. Koch had shore leave for two months as long as he reported to the ship every day at 9 a.m., she said.

"When he didn't show up (to see me) the morning after Bill (their second child) was born, I knew he had gotten shipped out," Mrs. Koch said. "I went down to the docks, hoping to see him, but instead, I saw many ships. I couldn't tell which ship Marvin was on, but I'm sure I saw his ship."

It turned out Koch was on a troop carrier headed to Nagasaki, Japan, and was part of the first troops brought in after the bombing of Nagasaki.

Correspondence during the war wasn't easy. Mrs. Koch's husband was away for five months, she said, and they wrote letters. However, Koch didn't receive any of his letters until he got back into the United States. Mrs. Koch said she didn't receive any letters until three months after her husband had left, even then, the letters were scarce.

"There was a lot of sadness (during the war)," Mrs. Koch said. "I would attend the Navy church and remember seeing women with their children who had lost their husbands. The preacher would try to help them. It was just sad."

As difficult as living through World War II was, Mrs. Koch said her sympathy goes out to the military families involved in today's War on Terrorism. "My heart aches for the mothers and children today," Mrs. Koch said. "I think we were luckier than the women today because we were safe in the United States while our husbands were the ones in danger. Everyone is in danger today."

Mrs. Koch admitted she wouldn't have gotten through everything without the support from her parents and lots of praying. With two small children, there was no time to worry, Mrs. Koch said. Of course, she missed her husband, but she got through it because she, along with everyone else, had to. There wasn't a choice, she added.

Mrs. Koch offered advice for the families whose loved ones are serving in the War on Terrorism. "Don't neglect the children," she said. "And pray. If you really believe, your prayers will be answered."