Don Bein was born June 5, 1925 in Davenport, Iowa. He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the early years of the war, graduating from high school in 1943. He promptly received his draft notice and headed off to Fort Benning, Georgia. As he had passed the army IQ test he was selected to study engineering in the Army Specialized Training Program. At that time the war was not going well, and the army needed infantry, so Don’s specialized training was put aside, and he went to Europe as a foot soldier – ready to do his part against the Nazis. He went overseas on the Mauretania, landing in Liverpool in the fall of 1944. After a short stay in England he crossed the Channel and arrived at Omaha Beach as a replacement soldier, ready to report to a unit. He became an armored infantryman, riding across Europe in a halftrack – and not walking, as Don recalls. The biggest part of Don’s war would occur in the Battle of the Bulge, fighting with the 9th Armored Division through to Germany. He was later assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, and at the end of the war – still just 19 years old – Don stayed in Nuremberg, keeping the troops fed. He also had occasion to visit the liberated concentration camp at Bergen Belsen, seeing firsthand the horrors of Nazism and the Holocaust. Don remained in the occupation force until 1946, celebrating a postwar Christmas in Germany. Don Bein visited Crestwood students via zoom in March 2023.
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