HISTORY NEBRASKA MANUSCRIPT FINDING AID
RG5220.AM: Richard Carl Thoene, 1918-2005
Papers: 1942-2003; mostly 1942-1945
Utica, Seward County; and Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska: Soldier; writer
Size: 1.0 cu.ft. 2 boxes
Richard Carl Thoene was born in Utica, Seward County, Nebraska, the son of Otto and Gertrude Thoene. Otto was the assistant cashier at the First National Bank in Utica. Richard graduated from Utica High School in 1936 and attended the University of Nebraska for three years before accepting a job with the Agricultural Administration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A week after the United States entered World War II, on December 14, 1941; Otto Thoene was killed when his car struck a train at a railroad crossing. Richard Thoene received his call to military service on March 3, 1942. Though he could have received a deferment because he was an only child and his mother was widowed, he chose to serve and his mother agreed. When he arrived at Ft. Leavenworth to begin his training there were not enough uniforms for the recruits, so he spent his first few days in the military in his tweed suit, including 2 days on KP. When he received his first uniform it included a World War I surplus helmet, canvas spats, and a vintage Enfield rifle. Thoene completed his training at Camp Roberts, California, where he trained in wire communications and switchboards because of previous experience with the Lincoln Telephone Company in 1936. He was selected for Non-commissioned Officer School and received training in tactics, command and tank attack strategy, then was sent to the 807th Tank Destroyer Battalion.
Thoene was first part of the “Reconnaissance Company” in the Battalion, but was soon moved to “HQ Company” where, as Battalion Personnel Sergeant, he supervised administration of morning reports, payrolls, special orders, service records, casualty reports, etc. He frequently performed his duties under fire. “You couldn’t hear the mortars; the scariest thing of all. You can’t hear them, they just drop and there’s a huge explosion.” Once a mortar hit was so close to the basement of a bombed-out house where he was working that the walls collapsed and he had to dig his way out.
The 807th Tank Destroyer Battalion was involved in eight months of active combat, traveling over 2,500 miles throughout Europe. Members of the Battalion received battle stars for three campaigns: the Rhineland, Central Europe, and Northern France Campaigns. Following the end of the European War, Thoene returned States-side, and was awaiting re-assignment to the Pacific Theatre when the Japanese surrendered. He received an honorable discharge at Camp Carson, Colorado. He was awarded the ETO Ribbon with three battle stars, the Bronze Star, and Good Conduct Medal.
Following his discharge from service Thoene settled in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was a lifetime member of American Legion Post #3. In 1972 he founded General Reporting Service, Inc., a court-reporting firm that did contract reporting for state and federal agencies, and individuals.
Thoene retired in 1985, devoting the remainder of his life to personal and charitable interests. Following the disputed presidential election in 2000, he began writing a series of letters to members of the Nebraska Congressional delegation and to the editor of the Lincoln Journal-Star in which he expressed his outrage at the political process. He continued to write such letters voicing his opinion about the 911 terrorist attacks, his on-going disgust with the Bush administration, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other topics. He also began to write short essays and stories as his talent for writing developed. Richard C. Thoene died December 29, 2005.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
This collection relates to the service of Richard C. Thoene in World War II and to his career and interests, especially following the presidential election of 2000. It is arranged in four series: 1) World War II Materials, 1942-1945; 2) Miscellaneous; 3) Correspondence, 2001-2004; and 4) Creative Writing, 2003-2004. A second box of additional, unprocessed materials were added later.
Note: See the photo component [RG5520.PH] for related images.
Series 1 – World War II materials, 1942-1945
- Induction materials, 1942, N.D.
- Infantry Training certificate, 1942
- Assignment to the 807th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 1943
- Orders, 807th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 1945
- Bronze Star documents, 1945
- Discharge documents, 1945
- “807th Tank Destroyer Battalion: March 1942-September 1945”
“Tank Destroyer History” notes for articles in Newsletter, 1945
Series 2 – Miscellaneous
- 807th Tank Destroyer newsletter, 1994-1995
- Personnel lists, 1999 and undated
- “The Stars and Stripes” newspaper, May 8, 1945 (1st issue) [see OB124]
Marriage Certificate, 1915 [see OB124]
- Family tree; genealogy material; business card; caricature, 2001, and undated.
Series 3 – Correspondence, 2001-2004
- Correspondence, 2001-Aug 2002
- Correspondence, Sept-Dec 2002
- Correspondence, Jan-April 2003
- Correspondence, May-Dec 2003
- Correspondence, 2004
Series 4 – Creative writing, 2003-2004
- Creative Writing, 2003-2004
Box 2 (2009.0259 – Unprocessed)
Scrapbook of Gertrude (Severin) Thoene (Richard’s mother)
Booklets & misc. travel information relating to Germany (where Richard’s father grew up)
Misc. certificates and biographical information
Activists — Nebraska — Lincoln
Protest movements — Nebraska — Lincoln
Soldiers — Nebraska
Tanks (Military science)
Thoene, Richard Carl, 1918-2005
World War, 1939-1945
Writers — Nebraska — Lincoln
revised kfk 03-28-2003, 03-2004
revised TMM 12-10-2009