Veteran Salute: Soldier serves and finds love in Austria

Veteran Salute

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — When World War II ended, draft notices continued to go out.

A man, who now calls Medicine Lodge home, got drafted, so he decided to enlist.

“One of their points was I could choose which country I went to,” Ellis Mayfield, Army veteran, said.

The 93 year old is originally from Missouri and said he knew he would eventually go into service.

“Some pretty hard times, but I think probably realized eventually, one day, I would probably have to go,” he said.

One of the places he served was at Governors Island, New York City, guarding prisoners.

“There may be six or eight of them in a group that you had to take out on a work detail,” he said.

He did that for about six months as military police, but that was after his time in Austria, where he fell in love.

Getting to Austria was rough.

“Just the smell of that boat and everything, I got seasick before it left the dock, and I was sick for eight days,” Mayfield said.

“I was 18-years-old when I went into the service,” he said. “United States Forces in Austria.”

Mayfield was a pretty good shot and still has his marksman medal to prove it. He pulled guard duty and also spent quite a bit of time on kitchen patrol.

“I don’t know that I messed up a whole lot, but I did do a lot of kitchen patrol and a lot of guard duty, that kind of stuff,” Mayfield said.

He must have had a knack in the kitchen.

“The military sent me to cook and baker school, and then I did graduate as a first cook,” Mayfield said.

He said he was thankful their sergeant always laid out the menu and plan since they were feeding so many soldiers back then.

“I do cook once in a while, but I do not enjoy cooking,” Mayfield said.

His wife Trude takes care of that now, and has for many decades.

“Actually we met on a blind date,” Mayfield said.

A fellow soldier set them up.

“I already had a boyfriend, I didn’t need another one,” Trude Mayfield said.

There was also a language barrier, so they had to combine two languages.

“We kind of mixed the two languages together,” Mayfield said. “We just figured out a way to get along.”

“When I was growing up in Missouri, they used to kid me about being in the Army and going to Germany and bringing back a German girl,” Mayfield said.

Trude was quick to remind him she is Austrian, not German.

Their marriage has now been going strong for nearly 73 years.

“It’s been a good life,” Mayfield said. “We’ve got six great kids, and here’s four of our grandchildren.”

Their home is full of photos of family and heroes.

Their son joined the Marines and Trude’s brother never made it home from WWII.

“He was killed in June of 1944, so the war was still on,” Mayfield said.

They recently took their family to Vienna.

“It was a great honor to be able to do that,” Mayfield said.

They visited many tributes, like one where shoes line the shore.

“We went to all those places where the Nazis came and killed the Jews,” Trude Mayfield said.

She remembers always looking out for a Jewish family above them. They had to warn them when the Nazis were coming.

“Getting to take them over there and see where their mother lived and grandmother, of course,” Mayfield said.

They also saw the barracks where Mayfield stayed while serving and where this love story started.

“Where we met and was married over there,” Mayfield said.

The Mayfields have 13 great-grandchildren, in addition to their six children and grandkids.

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