”Honor the Past; Deserve the Present“

Herman Meyer

20 July 1897-9 February 1977
Private First Class

Contributor:  Elena Sakopoulos


Born in Pope Valley, California, 20 July 1897
Youngest of six children
Parents were Swiss immigrants who originally settled in St. Helena, CA, in 1880

Background

  • Family purchased a 32-acre farm a few miles from Henry Haus's blacksmith shop in Pope Valley, California
  • Herman was apprenticed there in 1910 to learn welding and blacksmithing
  • Family moved to San Francisco in 1913; Herman enrolled in mechanics classes
    • Note—Herman's parents were aging and Herman wanted to be near family who were living in San Francisco [Marie Bowen, telephone conversation with Elena Sakopoulos, 23 September 2009]
  • By 1916 his parents were dead; Herman then lived with his brother's family in Winters, California

WWI

  • Meyer enlisted in the Army in San Francisco on 23 October 1918
  • He trained and served as an airplane mechanic for several squadrons at Rockwell Field, which had been established on North Island in San Diego, CA, in 1912 as the Signal Corps Aviation School
  • The button on his WWI cap shows a propeller blade with wings
    Notes on Rockwell Field—
    • On 20 July 1917 the Signal Corps Aviation School was renamed Rockwell Field, in honor of 2nd Lieutenant Lewis C. Rockwell, who, on 28 September 1912, had been killed in the crash of Wright Model B, Signal Corps 4, at College Park, MD
    • the Army's Signal Corps Aviation School was originally located at College Park, MD, and moved to North Island in San Diego in November and December 1912
    • Aviation pioneer and Wright Brothers competitor Glenn H. Curtiss founded his Aviation School on North Island in February 1911. The Army's Signal Corps Aviation School, which began operation in November and December of 1912, rented airplanes and hangars belonging to the Curtiss school
    • Rockwell Field was the first U. S. Army school to provide pilot training, and during WWI many pilots received their training at Rockwell Field
    • As of 21 May 1991, Rockwell Field has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places
  • While at Rockwell Field he fell ill with the Spanish Influenza during the second wave of the pandemic
  • One of his sisters went to San Diego to nurse her brother. He recovered, but, as his daughter remembers him saying, he had "watched bodies being carried out of the tent" [Marie Meyer Bowen, Recollections, ts, nd].
    • Note—His daughter Marie recollects, "I never heard him refer to his service except to say that his sister had saved his life" [Marie Meyer Bowen, Recollections, ts, nd].
  • Honorable discharge as Private First Class, Squadron D, took place on 17 December 1918

Post-WWI

  • Worked as a blacksmith and welder in his brother's shop in Winters, 1919-1942
  • Served as a volunteer fireman and deputy sheriff; played cornet in Winters city band

WWII

  • Became a civilian mechanic at Mare Island Naval Shipyard
  • Married Laura Delaney (age 31) of St. Helena, California, in 1943
    • Note -- Laura was a June 1930 graduate of St. Helena High School, in St. Helena, California
  • Daughter Marie born in 1946
  • Moved to San Francisco and worked at Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard

Post-WWII

  • Second daughter, Louise, born in San Francisco, California, in 1948
  • Retired 1959; moved to Napa, California, to reside in the area from which they had both come
  • Played harmonica and button accordion at family events; very patriotic

Memberships

  • Napa First Presbyterian Church
  • Odd Fellows, Madison Lodge, Yolo County
  • American Legion, Napa, Post 113
  • Veterans of WWI, Napa Barracks 929

Death

  • Died 9 February 1977; buried in St. Helena Public Cemetery.
    • Note—His daughter remembers him as a kind, loving person, but quiet and reserved [Marie Bowen, telephone conversation with Elena Sakopoulos, 23 September 2009]
(rev.10.5.09)