Don Eberhard World War II Soldier Returns Home

Trains are nostalgic for many and one project by museum volunteers was to gather first-hand stories of train experiences. 

This heart warming story submitted by Susan (Eberhard) DeBoer.

My father, Don Eberhard, was born and raised in Sturgis, graduating with the class of 1942. His late teen years were spent living with an aunt and uncle, Eda and Leo Yoder.

America entered World War II and Dad joined the Army, serving in Europe.

As is true for so many World War II veterans, my dad was not one to talk much about his military experiences. However, before his passing in November 2014 Dad shared the story of his homecoming at the Sturgis train depot.

Communication in the ‘40s was not like it is today. After the war families did not typically know where their soldiers were or when to expect them home. The passenger train would arrive each morning at the Sturgis depot. Many times returning soldiers were among those on board.

The morning Dad returned he stepped off the train and saw Uncle Leo waiting for him. Oh what joy to finally be home and what an added delight to have a loved one waiting.

Later, my dad asked Aunt Edna, “How did Uncle Leo know I’d be on the train that particular morning?”

She replied, “He DIDN’T know. He’s been at the depot at 7:30 every morning for the past three months waiting for you. He wanted to be sure he was there whatever day you made it back home.”


After the war Don and his wife Lois, were both Kirsch career employees. Don retired after four decades of service as a supervisor in the shipping department.

Leo Yoder served as the mayor of Sturgis from 1954-57 and 1963-64.