Ervin A. Spencer
Biography: Ervin Albert Spencer was born on December 22, 1914, in Cope, Colorado. He was the son of Ervin Edward Spencer and Clara Echterncamp and attended local schools in Cope through the 8th grade. He worked as a farmer raising and harvesting crops along with livestock and poultry on a farm devoted to diversified agriculture. Just prior to the war, he was working for Kenneth Hills in Mitchell, Nebraska.
Service Time: Ervin entered the service on March 20, 1942, and after his basic training was assigned to Company A of the 803rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. He trained with them in the U.S. at a number of military facilities including Fort Lewis in Washington, Camp Hood, Texas, Pine Camp, New York and Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. Ervin initially served as a truck driver but spend the majority of his service time as a tank destroyer driver. The last few months of the war, he served as a machine gunner.
The unit departed from the New York port on June 24, 1943, aboard the Queen Mary and arrived in England on July 6th. They spent 11 months in additional training and the final preparations and staging at Portsmouth, in southern England, before boarding transports and landing at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, on June 13, 1944. The unit was equipped with M10 tank destroyers and helped capture St. Lô in July. They then raced across northern France in August and passed through Belgium and Holland before reaching the Siegfried Line in September. They supported operations north of Aachen, Germany in October and then transferred to the Hürtgen Forest.
In the photo above left, you can see Ervin standing on the right, with a man identified only as Sgt. Slaestil. The background looks to have been one of the military camps they would have trained in. In the photo on right, Ervin can be seen sitting on the upper right of their TD.
Shifting to the Ardennes just before the German offensive in December, they were committed against the Siegfried Line for the second time in early 1945. The 803rd converted to M36 tank destroyers in February and participated in the capture of Trier. The 803rd crossed the Rhine River on the 23rd, at Oppenheim, and joined in the elimination of the Ruhr Pocket in April. The unit pivoted and marched southeast through Austria and into Czechoslovakia. They received credit for campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe.
Ervin received credit for each of the unit’s campaigns and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, per G.O.#51 from Hqs. 5th Inf. Div. (May 31, 1945), the EAME Medal and Good Conduct Medal. He left the service on September 28, 1945, at the rank of Technician 5th Grade.
Now back in the U.S., Ervin returned to Nebraska and found work with the North Central Gas Company, specifically at a pumping station, where he was required to keep the pumps up and running and tuned-up. He lived in one of the company’s homes, located right across the street from the station. When North Central merged with the Kansas-Nebraska Gas Co., Ervin became a line installer and repairman for the company, repairing city gas lines going to individual homes in western Nebraska and northeastern Colorado.
On May 26, 1946, he married the former Maria Kuhlman who was born in Scottsbluff, NE, and was the daughter of Frederick and Anna Kuhlman. The new couple had three children, Victoria, born in 1947, David in 1948, and Linda in 1949. In addition to spending time with his family, Ervin was a rock-hound and enjoyed searching for arrowheads and rocks he could use to make jewelry and keepsakes. He and Maria loved to square dance and belonged to the local square dancer’s club in Bridgeport. They were regulars at the dances, held on Saturday night, at the American Legion Hall. Ervin was also an active member of the VFW.
In the late 50’s or early 60’s, Ervin took a mail order course on television and radio repair and started his own part-time business repairing them. He also installed antennas on many of his customers’ homes.
Ervin passed away on December 19, 1974, and was buried in the Oregon Trail Memorial Cemetery, Bridgeport, NE. I want to thank Ervin’s son, David, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.