Our Heritage

Ron Doeppner


My father, Tom Doeppner, was born and raised in Berlin, Germany. When he graduated from high school in 1938 he knew it would be just a matter of time before he was drafted into Hitler’s army. Rather than fight for a cause he knew to be evil, Tom escaped to Amsterdam and, a year later, obtained a visa to attend college in the US. He graduated from Kansas State University in 1944 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a Kansas farm girl bride (Marjorie Sloan, my mother). At this point, Tom was ready to join the war, but on the right side.

Since he was still a German citizen, he was considered an enemy alien and not eligible to enlist in the US military. But he was allowed to volunteer for the draft – which he did – and ten days later was ordered to report to Ft Leavenworth, Kansas, for active duty in the Army. He quickly gained his US citizenship, attended OCS and shipped out to Europe in 1945 as a signal corps officer, shortly after the war ended.

Tom and Marjorie were stationed in Nuremburg, Germany where he helped restored communications in the war ravaged land while Mom worked as a clerk in the Nuremburg war trials.

Tom wore the uniform of his adopted country for twenty nine years, serving not only in post war Europe but also in Japan during the Korean conflict and in Saigon during the Vietnam War. He retired from the Army in 1973 as an O-6. Not bad for an eighteen year old Jewish kid from Berlin.

This is my Dad teaching a class on nuclear fission to other Army officers in Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey.

This picture from the late 1940s, is most likely in a corner of the Nurmeburg Officer's Club, most assuredly discussing world events over the local brew.

Considering the rifles and side arms, this photo is probably taken in Korea around 1953 or 1954.