Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Irving Thaler, who served in Frankfurt, Germany, as a military policeman during World War II.
Irving Thaler was born in March 1927, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, during the ongoing economic depression. He worked in his father’s local fruit and vegetable store, before spending every penny he had to study pre-medicine at New York University (NYU). He reminisced in a 2014 interview that he was thrilled to be drafted after his first semester because he could not afford to pursue his education further at the time. In June 1945 at 18 years old, Thaler went to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic infantry training and received his first assignment as an assistant truck driver in October. While the Army originally slated him to serve in Japan, they redirected him to serve in Germany.
On Christmas Eve in 1945, Thaler arrived in Germany before spending two weeks in the French city of Romilly-sur-Seine. There he trained in the weapons and self-defense needed to be a military policeman. He served with the 709th Military Police Battalion, arriving in Frankfurt in January 1946. He recalled in his interview that bombs destroyed a majority of Frankfurt, but that the buildings left standing still had working utilities.
Thaler was adept at typewriting, so he worked at Frankfurt’s central booking station as the chief clerk. There, he was in charge of recording every action taken by the military police in Germany.
“Believe it or not,” Thaler said in his interview “I had a stamp on my desk that would recommend ‘general court martial.’ Here I am, a kid of eighteen or nineteen, and I had the discretion of rubber stamping a report to recommend a general court martial.” Luckily, he never had to exercise that power.
Thaler spent ten months in Frankfurt before he honorably discharged in November 1946 and reapplied to NYU. Having spent a total of 17 months in the Army, he used his GI Bill. His college tuition was paid for, and Thaler credited the government for helping him continue his studies.
Upon his return to school, he decided to transfer from pre-med to the School of Commerce, where he majored in accounting. After graduating, Thaler worked in accounting before moving into the computer business. He was passionate about food and cooking and believed in life-long learning.
Thaler passed away at 93 years old on Jan. 11, 2021, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He is survived by Bryna, his wife of 65 years, as well as his children, Susan, Robert, and Scott, and grandchildren, Matthew, Amanda and Michael.
We honor his service.
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Writer: Kacie Goeppner
Editors: Katherine Berman and
Graphic artist: Erin Gallagher