WWII vets celebrating 75th wedding anniversary

By on November 10, 2016

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It all began in 1940 when Norman Eckert met pretty, dark-eyed Fern Moyer on the porch of her sister’s house in Akron.

Fern was playing “You Are My Sunshine” on a steel guitar. Norman didn’t quite realize that she was strumming on his heart strings.

“Was I smitten?” he asks now. “Yes, I suppose I was.”

Norman and Fern Eckert, now residents at Luther Acres, are both 95, and will celebrate 75 years of marriage on Nov. 27. They are both World War II veterans. Norman served in the Army in Germany; and Fern with the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) at Fort Dix, N.J., and Denver, Colo.

Ever since the day they met, when Norman was visiting his mother, they have been together, even when the war kept them apart.

“When people ask me how we have managed to be married for 75 years, I say you have to work together and take care of each other,” says Fern.

The Eckerts have certainly done that.

Fern graduated from Shillington High School in 1940 and Norman graduated in 1940 from Lititz High School. His mother moved to Akron in an area known as Locust Bend, which happened to be in the same neighborhood as Fern’s sister. Fern was playing that guitar and Norman was taken with her right away. They started dating and a year later, the couple married in the living room of her pastor’s house in Shillington.

“It was Thanksgiving Day,” recalls Norman. “We had a lot to be thankful for.”

Norman worked at Armstrong Cork, which was gearing up for the war effort. He operated a machine that dyed canvas for Army tents. Back then, companies like Armstrong would be called on to manufacture products like canvas, bullets and airplane parts.

The Eckerts lived in Akron. Soon after, Norman was drafted into the Army and headed to Germany, where he served in the 3rd Infantry under Gen. George Patton. Sergeant Eckert spent much of his time in Germany behind the line, taking prisoners. After two and a half years, he returned home. Then during the Korean War, he served in the National Guard.

When Norman was overseas, Fern worked at Armstrong and became a real-life Rosie the Riveter. When the men went off to war, the women took over manufacturing at factories. Fern literally riveted parts for airplanes at Armstrong.

“I wanted to do more. I didn’t want to just sit home and wait,” says the spirited lady. “So I joined the Women’s Army Corps.”

Fern worked as a medical technician, working the night shift with soldiers in hospitals. She helped with providing medication and assisting the nurses and doctors.

After wartime ended for the country, the Eckerts were able to get back to their lives. They lived in Brickerville and Ephrata. Norman worked at New Holland Machine for 29 years and had his own painting and wall papering business for 65 years. Fern worked for many years as a hairdresser, after going to school on the G.I. bill. They were active at their church, Brickerville United Lutheran Church. Norman is a long-time member of the Akron Lions Club.

Although they didn’t have children, they enjoyed their nieces and nephews, and “adopted” a few younger friends as family, including a former neighbor Cindy Hess, whom they regard as their “daughter.” Through the years, they have grown old together, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health.

“When we got married, we made a commitment to stay married,” says Fern. “I’ve never wanted to be with anybody else.”

Laura Knowles is a freelance reporter for the Record Express. She welcomes comments and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *