When Gigi Hickey opened her deceased mother’s trunk in her South Dakota home she was not quite prepared for what she would find. Hickey discovered a howitzer shell that was stuffed with red fabric. When she pulled it out Hickey discovered that it was a twelve foot long Nazi banner.
The banner was inscribed with the names of 84 American soldiers with “CANNON CO., 358th INF., 90th DIV.” and the division’s “Tough Ombre” symbol.
One of the signatures belonged to local veteran Belvo Dorman of Greenwood.
How Hickey wound up with the flag is something of a mystery. Her mother, Georgia, was married to Pete Henrichsen in 1942, who then enlisted in the army, was assigned to the 358th infantry and died during the Battle of the Bulge Jan 16, 1945.
Pete Henrichsen’s name was not on the banner. Hickey believes that Pete’s fellow soldiers must have signed the banner and sent it to his widow as a tribute.
Dorman, who served with the 358th, had joined the army in his twenties and served in Germany. Dorman was shipped to Europe aboard the Queen Mary, which had been converted for the war. According to his daughter, Peggy Wagner, Dorman was among the troops that liberated the Dachau concentration camp. Wagner stated that she did not know much about what happened there because it was difficult for her father to speak about. “He did not say much about it because all of the things that he saw were really devastating,” said Wagner. “When they liberated the camp the Jewish people ran to them and were thanking them for saving them. That’s a hard memory to have seeing these skinny people wearing little to no clothing.”
Born and raised in Hartford Dorman attended school until the eighth grade before going to work in the coal mines in order to help his family. “Those were the only jobs in the area at that time,” said Wagner. “His whole family is listed on the Coal Miners Memorial in Greenwood.”
When Dorman returned from the war he moved back to Hartford in the Frog Town area for a time before moving to Pennsylvania to work for Bethlehem Steel in the steel mill. The Dorman’s moved to Greenwood around 1970.
Since Hickey discovered the banner she has been researching the names on it trying to find more information. She has yet to find a living signer that could shed some light on the subject but has been collecting obituaries along with other documentation. Hickey has been in contact with 25 families so far and continues to search for any information concerning the banner. For more information visit www.hickeyonlake.wix.com/358thinfantry