May 25, 2019

Elvin “Speed” Homan, 95, of Hutchinson passed away Saturday, May 25, at Harmony River Living Center in Hutchinson. Memorial service was Saturday, June 1, at Peace Lutheran Church in Hutchinson with interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis. Officiating was the Rev. Matthew Orendorff. Organist was Dr. Joan DeVee Dixon. Soloist was Jim Wendling performing “On Eagle’s Wings.” Congregational hymns were “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “The Old Rugged Cross.” Casket bearers were Glencoe American Legion Post 95. Military honors by Glencoe American Legion Post 95 and American Legion Hutchinson Post 96.

Elvin Otto Carl Homan was born May 13, 1924, in Lynn Township, McLeod County, to Otto and Wilhelmina (Plath) Homan. He was baptized June 8, 1924, and confirmed April 14, 1938, at Congregational Church, Brownton. Elvin and his younger brother Harvey grew up in the Brownton area. Their mother died in 1941, so he spent most weekends with his uncle and aunt, Henry and Emma Homan, who lived near Biscay. They became parents to both him and Harvey.

In the early 1940s, Elvin and a cousin went to California where they worked in a magnesium plant doing war-related work. The job was good, it provided free eats and a place to sleep. While there, they were working undercover for the police. Bootleggers were smuggling booze into the plant and the police recruited them to act as informers. They used marked money to buy the “stuff.” They caught the thieves, but after that life wasn’t safe for the two of them. After going to court to testify as witnesses, they headed back to Minnesota.

Upon his return to Minnesota, Elvin found work as a herdsman on a farm near Glencoe. He then enlisted in the Army on Feb. 23, 1943. Elvin went to Camp Roberts, California, for 13 weeks of basic training. He volunteered to be a paratrooper to get $50 extra a month pay. Elvin took four weeks of paratrooper training at Fort Benning, Georgia. After five jumps, he received his wings. From there, he was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and then to Camp Shanks, New York, where he was put on a troop ship, Liberty, to sail for England. Once there, Elvin was assigned to company C 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. (Elvin’s regiment was featured in the film “Saving Private Ryan” and “Band of Brothers.”)

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Elvin’s group was dropped on the Cherbourg Peninsula. Their mission was to secure the western end behind Utah Beach, head off toward eastern Germany and advance. The pilots were young and inexperienced and when they encountered flack guns and dense fog, they hit the green light and they jumped. Luckily, Elvin did not land in the water as Germans had flooded many of the farm fields that had been selected as drop zones. Hundreds of paratroopers dropped into flooded areas and drowned almost immediately. After Elvin landed, he hooked up with other paratroopers and they made their way down the line looking for the 101st. It took him four days to get back to his original unit. After spending 14 days in France, the 101st was sent back to England. Elvin immediately began training for his next mission, which was named Operation Market Garden. The airborne attack deep in enemy territory was to be launched in conjunction with a ground attack by the British Second Army. The principal objective of the operation was to get Allied troops across the Rhine River.

Elvin’s plane was hit and severely damaged and he was given the signal to jump. Elvin was knocked unconscious in the process. When he awoke, he was looking down the barrel of a rifle held by a member of the German Schutzstaffel (SS). He then began a journey to German prison camps. It was his good fortune to be transferred from the SS to the regular German army. Elvin was taken to a monastery where a priest took their names. He promised to pass them on to the Allies. They took their shoes so they could not run away. Elvin was then transported in cattle cars at night into Germany. First, he was taken to Stalag XII-A in southern Germany and later moved to Stalag III-C, about 18 miles north of Berlin. Elvin was imprisoned for about five months. When he landed he weighed about 140 pounds, but he dropped to about 90 pounds after his imprisonment. The commandant of the camp was a German Harvard-educated lawyer who treated them fairly. One hundred men slept on straw on wooden pallets, as close to each other as possible to preserve body heat and share their blankets. It was extremely cold, both his hands and feet froze. They were given two meals a day, mostly thin soup. They received rations from the Red Cross and used cigarettes as money to barter with the guards. In late March 1945, the lights went on in camp in the middle of the night. They were told to fall out or there would be shooting. They were told to take all their belongings and be ready to march, a forced march, five miles out of camp. They were released March 31, 1945, by a Russian tank column of nine tanks, which was led by a woman major.

Elvin and two other prisoners then walked through Poland to Warsaw. From Warsaw, they made their way to Odessa, Russia, located on the Black Sea. They got on an English freighter that transported them to Port Said in Egypt. Elvin got his first hot shower since September. From Egypt, they sailed to Naples, Italy. They were finally under U.S. control. They turned themselves in to military police. The three men were in pretty bad shape, so they kept them for about a month. He was finally sent home April 14, 1945.

On Aug. 15, 1945, Elvin married Rosa (Goulet) from Sumter. He became employed with Glencoe Mills Company. On Sept. 26, 1950, Elvin was called back to the Army for the Korean War. He was shipped to Korea with the 187th Combat Team under the 11th Airborne. On May 14, 1951, he was released from the Army on a hardship discharge. By this time he had three children. Rosa and Elvin added two more children to their family for a total of five.

After 19 1/2 years with Glencoe Mills, Elvin worked for a time with Rutz Plumbing & Heating and then for the Glencoe School District, where he retired in 1986 after serving as a custodian for 22 1/2 years.

Elvin was always an active member of the VFW in Glencoe and Hutchinson, American Legion Hutchinson Post 96, DAV Chapter 37 and EXPOW Chapter from St. Cloud. He served a term as commander at the Glencoe VFW Post 5102. Since his retirement, Elvin has given many speeches on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Cpl. Elvin Homan received the Combat Infantry Badge — three clusters, American Campaign Medal, American Middle Eastern Campaign — three clusters, EAME Ribbon with three Bronze Star, American Theater Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, 101st Unit Citation — two clusters, Korean Service Medal, Korean Medal — given by the Korean government, Korean United Nations Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge GO 26 1st U.S. Army — June 17, 1944, National Defense Medal, WWII Medal, Normandy Jubilee Liberty Medal, Cold War Victory Commemorative Medal, Parachute Wings — three star, Orange Lanyard (for the Netherlands), Award of the Croix De Guerre with Palm (Liberation of France) and Knight of the Legion of Honor (French Medal).

In June 2000, Elvin graduated with the Brownton High School graduating class, finally receiving his high school diploma.

Aug. 23, 2002, Elvin lost the love of his life, Rosa, to cancer. Elvin and Rosa enjoyed 57 years of marriage. They had five children, all four of his sons served in the military. A son-in-law, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren also served. Elvin set a strong military standard for all of his family.

In 2003, Elvin made a decision to move to Orchard Estates in Glencoe. He had been so happy there, wondering why he did not make the move earlier. Elvin served as a council member there and played cards many nights.

He enjoyed fishing, his camper at Lake Washington, and later in life he enjoyed painting, playing cards, bingo, his grand and great-grandkids, wintering in Edinburg, Texas, and all his lifelong friends. He also enjoyed “Taco Tuesday” at Biscay and having lunch with the Rev. Joe Clay every Wednesday.

On June 2012, Elvin fell and broke his back at the campground while “putting another log on the fire.” He then moved to Harmony River Living Center for treatment and healing, where he continued to reside.

On Nov. 18, 2017, Elvin was presented the Knight of the Legion of Honor. He was knighted by French Consul General Guillaume Lacroix at Harmony River. It is a medal originated by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 and is the highest honor given by the French government.

Elvin was a kind, gentle and generous person. He loved and supported his family and was a friend to all.

Blessed be his memory.

Elvin leaves behind to mourn, one daughter Barbara (Hartley) Rosebrock of Hutchinson; three sons, James Homan (his friend Lenny Dorsett) of Tell City, Indiana, Michael (Gina) Homan of Abilene, Texas and Patrick Homan of Yukon, Oklahoma; sister-in-law Kathleen Huesmann of Provo, Utah; 16 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; his military family; Lakewood Campground family; and many other family and friends.

Elvin was preceded in death by his parents Otto and Wilhelminia Homan; wife Rosa; son Robert Homan; daughters-in-law, Linda Homan and Barbara Homan; brother Harvey Homan; sisters-in-law, Mrylo Homan and Christine Funderburke; and brothers-in-law, Basil Funderburke and William Huesmann.

Arrangements by Dobratz-Hantge Funeral Chapel in Hutchinson. Online obituaries and guestbook available at hantge.com.

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