How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?
My wife, Elisabeth, and I have been here for nine years. Before coming to Florida, I lived in Vidalia, Ga., for 13 years and then moved to Uvalda, also in Georgia, where Elisabeth and I were married. After we married, we moved to Florida — and we love it here.
I was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1935 and came to the United States in October 1959. In March 1960, I joined the U.S. Army, even though I was still a citizen of Germany.
Who are the members of your family?
My wife, Elisabeth (who goes by Lissy), and I have been married nine years. I've only been married one time, and I was 64 years old at the time. It took me that long to find my perfect wife.
We actually met a long time ago in Germany, when I was stationed there. After I retired, I went to Germany for a visit and we met up again. Sparks started to fly and next thing you know, we were talking about getting married. She agreed to come to Georgia with me, where we married.
My father was in the German Army in Russia. I spent many years during World War II in an air raid shelter. I saw Adolf Hitler three times while growing up — one time he shook my hand and patted my little brother on the head.
My parents divorced when I was 12, and my brothers and sisters and I were split up. My older brother, my sister and my younger brother went to live with different relatives, but I was sent to a boarding house.
After the war, I completed high school and then went to trade school. I graduated in 1955 and went to work at Ramstein Air Base. While there, I met the American base chaplain who suggested I join the U.S. Air Force since they paid better.
Tell us about your career.
I joined the U.S. Army in March 1960. I served for three years in the infantry and was stationed in Berlin during the Berlin Crisis. I was later awarded the Occupation Medal for occupying my hometown.
I was still a citizen of Germany while I served those three years. In March 1963, when my service time was up, I became a U.S. citizen, and then I re-enlisted in April 1963. I was stationed at Fort Mammoth, N.J., until 1964. From there I went to Korea and was headquartered with the First Cavalry Division.
During my almost 21 years in the Army, I served five tours in Germany, two in Korea and two in Vietnam. I actually spent a total of 16 years serving overseas. When I retired from the Army in October 1980, my rank was master sergeant.
Once retired, I settled down and bought my first home in Vidalia, Ga. I got a job with American Standards, where I worked as a tool and die maker. I was actually licensed in Germany for this trade. I worked there for six or seven years before retiring for the second time.
What kinds of activities are you involved in now?
Most weekdays you will find me at one of the many clubs I belong to.
I'm a member of Brooksville Elks Lodge 2582, the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge 521 in Spring Hill, a life member of the DAV Brooksville Cada-Haddon Chapter 67, VFW Post 10209, American Legion Post 186 and the Fraternal Order of Eagles Weeki Wachee Aerie 4372.
Do you have any special hobbies?
I guess you could say that I don't have any big hobbies. Lissy and I like to travel — short trips and cross country. We've visited historical places like Mount Rushmore and the Alamo in Texas, and we also like Las Vegas.
What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?
As a member of the many clubs, I enjoy the time I spend at the lodges with fellow members. Lissy and I also enjoy eating out once in a while. There are some very fine restaurants here in Hernando County, and we like to try them all. We also enjoy going to Bayport to watch the sunset and then have a nice fish dinner at the Bayport Inn.
Lissy likes to frequent flea markets and I like antique shopping. I collect German beer steins and coins.
What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?
Stop all the overdevelopment. Everywhere you look, they are building. We have so many empty homes. I know that people eventually will move in, but even now our roads can't handle all the newcomers. Our roads need to keep up with the county's growth.
And before we welcome more residents, we have to think about the water shortages our residents now are dealing with. I think we are getting overcrowded.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.
I've have no secrets. My life has been wide open to everyone.
After my parents divorced and we kids were split up, I'm the only one who came to the United States, and it was the best decision I ever made. Lissy and I are so glad we are living here, and we both enjoy Florida so much.
I am very thankful to be an American. It saddens me when I hear other Americans complaining about the country, the folks in Washington, etc. After all that I've been through, surviving WWII, the air raids, Vietnam — after all that, while it's not perfect, I think the United States is the best country to live in.
Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1438.