WWII veteran to sign book.
October 2, 2008 · Updated 2:09 PM
LeRoy Bronemann has many stories to tell, and he's ready to pass them on.
The 87-year-old Fall City resident served almost four years in World War II, stationed in the South Pacific. After making it back alive, he worked for 40 years side by side with his wife, Lillie, at the Fall City Post Office.
Bronemann also survived the Great Depression and made enough money making and selling souvenirs during the war to pay for a house. He and Lillie have both conquered cancer and continue to work as community activists. In addition, they are world travelers, visiting their seventh continent, Antarctica, this January. But that's not all.
From noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 29, at Dr. Cynthia Delano's dentist office in North Bend, Bronemann will hold a signing for the second printing of his book, "Once Upon a Tide: Tales From a Foxhole in the South Pacific."
The non-fiction story is a tell-all of his military experiences, both tragic and humorous.
Bronemann was drafted into the U.S. Army at age 28. He was sent to South Carolina to learn how to operate a DUKW, or "duck," which is officially called a Dual Utility Kargo Wheels vehicle. It traveled on land and water. Then he was sent to the South Pacific, in the 454th Amphibian Truck Company. The DUCK unloaded cargo ships and delivered cargo to islands, as well as delivering troops to invasions, and reinforced the First Marine Division. Bronemann took part in the invasion of Peleliu on Sept 15, 1944, and Okinawa on April 1, 1945, which was Easter Sunday as well as April Fool's Day.
While in the South Pacific, Bronemann came up with the idea of making and selling souvenirs, since there were no places for military personnel to buy trinkets to send to their loved ones back home.
"There were a lot of clever ideas that've been had. Some men made rings, wristwatch bands, Plexiglas ornaments," Bronemann said. "There, you sit at the camp all day long, and you'd either have a card game going or you'd write letters, and some of us made things. It was a pretty lonesome life, believe me, a very lonesome life."
The lessons the G.I. learned during his 27 months on the front line were numerous, especially for someone who didn't find thrills in war or killing.
"If you read the book enough times, you'll see there is no reason for war," he said. "In other words, I didn't have too much love for trying to kill somebody."
The reason Bronemann wrote the book was to inform the public of the experiences G.I.s went through, and to let former G.I.s know what had happened to the South Pacific since the war.
"I figured if all these interesting things happened to me, then my experiences could be shared and some people can even profit from my experiences," Bronemann said.
After he returned to Fall City, various organizations and schools asked him to give speeches about his experiences. Those speeches eventually turned into "Once Upon a Tide."
Before completing the book, there was one journey left to take. In 1979, Bronemann and his wife went to the South Pacific to retrace his steps from the war. They sought out every place he had camped and fought, from beaches to mountain tops.
LeRoy Bronemann will sell his books for $15 apiece at the signing, or by phone at (425) 222-5772. Dr. Delano's office is at 421 Main Ave. S., near the Mount Si Senior Center.