"Buffalo Bob"
Casale's Corner



Article that ran in Wall Street Journal onMonday July 23, 2018 long ago but never too late to hear a story like this.

"We were overwhelmed," said Lt. Col. Nick Jaskolski.  "I really don't have words to describe how surprised and moved we all were.  I had never even heard of the town before."  Col. Jaskolski, a veteran of the Iraq war, is commander of the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard.  For three weeks earlier this summer, the 142nd had been conducting an emergency deployment readiness exercise in Wyoming , training and sleeping outdoors, subsisting on field rations.  Now it was time for the 700 soldiers to return to their base.    

A charter bus company had been hired for the 18-hour drive back to Arkansas .  The Army had budgeted for a stop to get snacks.  The bus company determined that the soldiers would reach North Platte , in western Nebraska , around the time they would likely be hungry.  The company placed a call to the visitors' bureau:  Was there anywhere in town that could handle a succession of 21 buses, and get 700 soldiers in and out for a quick snack?    

North Platte said yes. North Platte has always said yes!

The community welcomed more than 700 service men and women in North Platte , Nebraska , June 18-19. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Barkley, North Platte Telegraph)

During World War II, North Platte was a geographically isolated town of 12,000. Soldiers, sailors and aviators on their way to fight the war rode troop trains across the nation, bound for Europe via the East Coast or the Pacific via the West Coast. The Union Pacific Railroad trains that transported the soldiers always made 10-minute stops in North Platte to take on water.

The townspeople made those 10 minutes count.  Starting in      December 1941      , they met every train: up to 23 a day, beginning at 5 a.m. and ending after midnight.  Those volunteers greeted between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers a day.  They presented them with sandwiches and gifts, played music for them, danced with them, baked birthday cakes for them.  Every day of the year, every day of the war, they were there at the depot.  They never missed a train, never missed a soldier.  They fed six million soldiers by the end of the war.  Not 1 cent of government money was asked for or spent, save for a $5 bill sent by President Franklin D Roosevelt. The soldiers never forgot the kindness.  Most of them, and most of the townspeople who greeted them, are gone now.

And now in 2018, those 21 busloads from the 142nd Field Artillery were on their way, expecting to stop at some fast food joint.