Waterville in World War II
December 7 this year will be the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, the infamous attack that marked the entry of the United States into World War II. We find among our very few firsthand accounts of the war, a fairly detailed journal written by Dr. Ruben H. Hamman. Dr. Hamman was a practicing physician in Waterville, married and father of a young child when he volunteered his services to the United States Air Force as a flight surgeon just a few months into the war. He had long been fascinated with airplanes. He reported for active duty training in October of 1942 as a 2nd Lieutenant and spent almost a year in training. This included flight training, not as pilot but to be familiar with duties of a flight crew. One of the many duties of the flight surgeon is to certify that the crew is medically fit to fly. After attending schools from Maine to Texas, Dr. Hamman was finally shipped overseas where he served at air bases in Scotland and England. He describes duties and incidents in England including a crash landing in which all aboard were cut and bruised but survived. He was sent to France in 1945 after that country was liberated and the allied forces were advancing on Germany. He had advanced to the rank of Captain by this time and again describes his duties and adventures of flying to various duty stations, time Paris, southern France and finally being sent to occupied Berlin at the end of the war in Europe. The war with Japan ended some months later before Dr. Hamman could be transferred to the Pacific Theater. He was ordered back to the United States and separated from service October 10, 1945. Dr. Hamman returned to Waterville and resumed his medical practice there. Dr. Reuben Hamman, his wife Thelma (Luttenberger) Hamman and daughter Miriam resided in Waterville many years. He died July 11, 1982 and is remembered fondly by a number of residents.
Note: The Historical Society’s archives have a few memoirs and/or letters of World War II veterans and nothing of the Korean or more recent wars in our collection. We would welcome donations of such papers to the archives or the chance to copy these records so family can retain the originals.