Tom D. Vermilyea

Flies Home from France After Four Years in War Zone
Technician Fourth Grade Tom D. Vermilyea, son of' Mr. and Mrs. H. C. Vermilyea, who enlisted in the Princess Pat's Canadian Regiment at Winnipeg in April 1940 and who transferred to the United States Army in September 1942, while in England, arrived in Eau Claire on December 23 to spend the Christmas holiday.

Sergeant Vermilyea, who is on duty at SHAEF and who is stationed in one of the environs of Paris, accompanied two of his superior officers on a flight from France to the United States, leaving Paris on December 21. 

He leaves Eau Claire on December 28 and will report at the Pentagon Building in Washington and, from there, accompany the two officers on the return flight, scheduled to arrive in Paris on January 2. 

It is his first return to Eau Claire during his more than four and a half years of service overseas in the Canadian and American forces.  

Sergeant Vermilyea was in London with a Canadian special infantry detachment during the days of the air blitz and the Battle of England and also during the more recent buzz-bomb and rocket bomb attacks. The buzz-bombs were the worst, he said, not only because of the destruction they wrought but because of their menacing sound and the fact they kept soldiers and civilians ducking for air raid shelters day and night. 

His present duties have taken him over a wide extent of the battleground in France.

'Today is the Day' Writes Eau Claire Soldier Who Saw Paratroopers Off for France
Technician Fourth Grade Tom D. Vermilyea, Eau Claire man who enlisted in the Canadian Army more than four years ago and who transferred to the U.S. Army in September 1942, witnessed the take off of first paratroopers for the invasion of France, according to a letter recently received by relatives here. 

Vermilyea, who has been located at the Supreme Headquarters (SHAEF) since early last fall, drove an American major general and a British official to the point of the take-off on the night of June 5, he relates. 

The letter, dated June 6, follows: 

"Dear Folks, Today is the day. We have started our long-awaited invasion. Yesterday, the general went on a last-minute checkup of assembly points. Last evening, we drove to one of the airborne units, one of the many such combat teams, where we witnessed the takeoff of the first parachutists to land in France. 

"A fine looking bunch in the best of spirits and raring to go. These boys were from every state in the Union and, as far as they were concerned, their job was about done. All their training was for just this moment, and now all they wanted was to get at it.

"At several of the planes waiting to take them aboard, the British official and the general wished them the best of luck, and we proceeded to the marshalling point and witnessed the start of the memorable occasion. The ships took off, one behind the other, as regular as clockwork. As the last plane was airborne, the rendezvous took place immediately overhead. The sky had the appearance of a Christmas tree, as all the planes were flying with landing and running lights. 

"Then, in formation, they made a sweep of the field and started for France. By this time, most of the lights were extinguished. We could hear them going long, after we could see them. As they faded into the night, we all took a deep breath and realized we had seen the beginning of the end for Germany. 

"Reached home at an early hour in the morning, too tired to sleep or too nervous is more correct. Such an event is seldom seen, and I guess I'm only human, and I know the general felt the same way."

Staff Sergeant Tom D. Vermilyea, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. C. Vermilyea, arrived in Eau Claire, Wednesday, following his discharge at Fort Sheridan, after five years and two months of service. 

He enlisted at Winnipeg on April 26, 1940 and went overseas the following July with the Princess Pat's Canadian Infantry, serving in the Aldershot and London areas, during the German air blitz of 1941. 

He transferred to the United States Army on September 6, 1942 and served in England, France and Germany, until May 25, last, when he started back to this country with 139 points to his credit. 

He wears the Canadian Service Ribbon, the Good Conduct Ribbon, the pre-Pearl Harbor Ribbon with one star, and the European Theater of Operations Ribbon with three stars and the maximum of seven overseas stripes, dating from Pearl Harbor. 

His only visit home was last Christmas, when he flew to the United States with General R. B. Baker of SHAEF and spent five days in Eau Claire, returning by plane to France.