The end and the beginning

Metro Detroiters share stories of love, war and survival

By: Brian Louwers | C&G Newspapers | Published April 28, 2015


METRO DETROIT — The most destructive war ever fought in Europe ended on May 8, 1945. That point in time will forever be known to history as V-E Day.

For those who lived through the war, it was both the end and the beginning.

Gone forever were millions of lives. Millions more were left grieving, homeless and hungry, struggling to pick up the pieces of their shattered world. Towns that had stood for centuries were obliterated. It was a cataclysm never before seen, the end result of maniacal nationalism and industrialized war.

Many had friends and family members that were killed or left scarred. Lifelong bonds were formed, enduring relationships were forged, career paths were altered, and the world’s geography and politics were changed forever.   

Still, it would be another three months before World War II ended in the Pacific with the Japanese surrender on Aug. 15, 1945. 

That’s dramatic stuff on a historical scale. But equally stirring are the personal stories of those who fought the war, those who lived through it, and those whose lives have been shaped by its far-reaching effects.

These stories, each representing a unique perspective, emphasize the sweeping dramatic scale of the war’s impact and its enduring resonance.

Click on the photos below to read each person's story.


Wendell Bauer, 93
Clinton Township


Vince Giles, 89
Sterling Heights


Ellie Herkommer, 79
Beverly Hills


Wendell Galbraith, 90
St. Clair Shores


Vito “Bill” Pellegrino, 90
St. Clair Shores


Josef Hoettel, 90
St. Clair Shores


Dr. Philip Peven, 98


Rita Sparks, 80
Royal Oak


Guy Stern, 93
West Bloomfield