My 1945 Michigan Train Crash Story by Merle Lien, Vancouver, BC (Merle's brother, S/Sgt. Elwood J. Lien was killed in the crash.)

A Story of a Train Wreck

It was a sunny Sunday on an eastern Montana farm on August 10, 1945.  I was thirteen years old at the time.  My family was sitting around anxiously awaiting a telegram from my oldest brother, Elwood, who was to send it when his troop train was to pass through the nearest railroad station at Wolf Point Montana en route to his discharge.

For us it was in intense wait.  He had been gone for four years serving as an Army Air Force airman in the Campaign of North Africa and Italy.  We had no phones then.  The only communications had been those rare highly censured letters on thin paper where the letter text was written on the inside surface of the envelope.  I was nine when I last saw him as he left for overseas.  I was shy, so I tried to avoid saying goodbye by wandering off out into the pasture pending his departure.  But he tracked me down and shook my hand.

Now the time was exciting.  Two other siblings were also in service, a brother in the Navy and a sister as an army nurse.  But they were not home for the anticipated event.  A neighbor woman was present to share in our expected contact.  The depot agent was to deliver the telegram when it would come.  We was the agent through the window driving in.  I was outside with my father to meet him.

As the agent held the telegram, I heard him say to my father "The news is not good! Do you want to read it or shall I read it to you?"  I can no longer remember who read the telegram.  I only remember that my father began to cry.  I had never seen my father cry.  I knew that something awful had happened! The telegram in fact stated "It is with regret that we inform you that your son Elwood Lien had died due to injuries received in a train wreck in Michigan, ND."

My only remembrance is that I thought, if only this could not have happened! What else could on have thought.  I could not go in the house to witness my mother's sorrow.  I can no longer remember what I did or exactly where I went.  I probably wandered back down to the pasture where I had last seen Elwood.

Merle Lien  3/7/2012