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World War II veteran from Seneca recalls V-J Day

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 12:10 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -It was Aug. 14, 1945, the day Japan surrendered to the Allies to end World War II.

Maurice Dultmeier, a 19-year-old U.S. Navy signalman from Seneca, was there.

Dultmeier served on the USS Rockwall, a ship that saw duty in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The ship had a crew of about 650 people, he said.

On Saturday, the 94-year-old Dultmeier, who now lives in Topeka, will observe the 75th anniversary of V-J Day, which commemorates the Allies’ victory in World War II.

Japan’s surrender came on Aug. 14 in Japan, but because of the International Date Line, it occurred on Aug. 15 in the United States.

“We were at Okinawa, and I was on the ship, of course,” said Dultmeier, who now lives in Topeka. “We were all very happy when Hirohito announced the surrender.”

Victory over Japan Day -- or V-J Day -- has been celebrated ever since.

The surrender came less than a week after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The United States’ involvement in the war started Dec. 7, 1941, with Japan’s surprise attack on Peaarl Harbor. Over the next four years, some 16 million Americans served in the armed forces. Of that number, more than 400,000 lost their lives and another 670,000 were wounded.

Needless to say, Japan’s surrender Japan’s surrender set off a huge celebration among America’s troops.

Dultmeier still remembers the triumphant return home, when his ship made it back to San Francisco.

“Going under the Golden Gate Bridge was a great feeling,” he said, “coming back to our country, and we celebrated.”

His return to the United States was made even sweeter by a chance meeting with an old friend from Seneca, who also was returning home after the war, he said.

“A friend of mine, who was a great friend – he wasn’t on my ship, but he happened to be there -- Robbie Honeyman and I did some partying in San Francisco,” Dultmeier said. “Those were great moments.”

The oldest of 13 children, Dultmeier enlisted in the Navy as he was about to be drafted into the military.

“It turned out it was a pretty good service to be in,” he says.

Dultmeier made a lot of memories, considering he was still in his teen years.

He spent his early years on a farm in Nemaha County in north-central Kansas.

He later moved to Seneca with his family, where as a teen, he worked in his family’s hardware store.

“I grew up in Seneca, Kansas,” he said. “We’re far away from the ocean. I never thought I’d be on a ship. It was quite an experience.”

After he returned from the war, Dultmeier was married. He later ended up in Topeka, where he and his brothers, Paul and Leon, built houses. The construction company remains in the Dultmeier family to this day.

Though he has many fond memories of his days in World War II, Dultmeier still has sadness when he recalls the soldiers and seamen who didn’t come home.

“A lot of ‘em didn’t come back,” he said. “That was the way it was then. A lot of young men gave up their lives.”

Dultmeier is dismayed by some of the things he’s seen recently in the United States.

“This is a great country,” he said. “There’s a few things going on now that aren’t very nice.”

Dultmeier is a charter member of Christ the King Catholic Church, 5973 S.W. 25th.

One of the dwindling number of World War II veterans still living, Dultmeier said he hold out hope for better days ahead for the United States.

“I certainly hope so,” he said. “I’m sure if we all pray, the Lord will look out for us.”

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