Elvin “Speed” Homan, age 95, of Hutchinson, Minnesota, passed away Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Harmony River Living Center in Hutchinson.
Funeral Service will be held Saturday, June 1st, 2019, at 11:00 A.M. at Peace Lutheran Church in Hutchinson with interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
Visitation will be held from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M. Thursday, May 30th, 2019, at Dobratz-Hantge Chapel in Hutchinson and one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday.
Elvin Otto Carl Homan was born May 13, 1924, in Lynn Township, McLeod County, Minnesota, to Otto and Wilhelmina (Plath) Homan. He was baptized June 8th, 1924, and confirmed April 14, 1938, at Congregational Church, Brownton, MN. 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 & aunt, Henry & Emma Homan who lived near Biscay, MN. 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 February 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.”)
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 the 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 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’s 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 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, he dropped to about 90 pounds after his imprisonment. The commandant of the camp was a German Harvard-educated lawyer, who treated them fairly. 100 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 the 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 2 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 US control. They turned themselves into the military police. The three men were in pretty bad shape, so they kept them for about a month. He was finally sent home on April 14, 1945.
August 15, 1945, Elvin married Rosa (Goulet) from Sumter, MN. He became employed with Glencoe Mills Company. September 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. 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 ½ years with Glencoe Mills, Homan 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 ½ years.
Elvin was always an active member of the VFW in Glencoe and Hutchinson, American Legion Hutchinson Post 96, DAV Chapter 37, 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 and Veterans Day.
Corporal Elvin Homan received:
Combat Infantry Badge - 3 clusters
American Campaign Medal
American Middle Eastern Campaign - 3 clusters
EAME Ribbon with 3 Bronze Star
American Theater Ribbon
Good Conduct Medal
Prisoner of War Medal
101st Unit Citation - 2 clusters
Korean Service Medal
Korean Medal - given by the Korean Government
Korean United Nations Medal
Distinguished Unit Badge GO 26 1st US Army – June 17, 1944
National Defense Medal
Normandy Jubilee Liberty Medal
Cold War Victory Commemorative Medal
Parachute Wings - 3 Star
Orange Lanyard (for the Netherlands)
Award of the Croix De Guerre with Palm (Liberation of France)
Knight of the Legion of Honor (French Medal)
In June of 2000, Elvin graduated with the Brownton High School graduating class, finally receiving his high school diploma.
August 23, 2002, Elvin lost the love of his life, Rosa, to cancer. Elvin and Rosa enjoyed 57 years of marriage. They had 5 children, all 4 of his sons served in the military. A son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and 4 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 & great grandkids, wintering in Edinburg Texas and all his life-long friends. He also enjoyed “Taco Tuesday at Biscay, and having lunch with Pastor Joe Clay every Wednesday.
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.
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 “Speed” Homan, of Hutchinson, Minnesota, passed away Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Harmony River Living Center in Hutchinson, at the age of 95.
Elvin (Speed) was a kind, gentle, and generous person. He loved and supported his family and was a friend to all.
Elvin leaves behind to mourn, 1 daughter, Barbara (Hartley) Rosebrock of Hutchinson, MN; 3 sons, James Homan (his friend Lenny Dorsett) of Tell City IN, Michael (Gina) Homan of Abilene TX, Patrick Homan of Yukon OK; sister-in-law, Kathleen Huesmann of Provo, UT; 16 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren; his Military family; Lakewood Campground family; many other family and friends.
Elvin is 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; brothers-in-law, Basil Funderburke and William Huesmann.
Blessed be his memory.