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Timeline of Jim McKay’s experiences during and after WWII
- January – May, 1935 – Jim is 17 and goes abroad to live with the Sauer family in Frankfurt. He becomes fluent in German and makes good friends there.
- 1937-38 – While at Princeton, Jim spends his junior year abroad, living and studying in Munich. He is exposed to Nazi oppression.
- May, 1943 – Jim graduates from Harvard Medical School and marries Liz Foote.
- June, 1944 – Jim assigned as Battalion Surgeon for 275th Engineering Combat Battalion of the 75th Infantry Division.
- December 13, 1944 – 75th Infantry Division lands at LeHavre, France
- December 16, 1944 – Germans launch surprise attack that began the Battle of the Bulge.
- December and January, 1944-45 – Jim moves his aid station to a series of small villages just behind the front lines as the 75th Division helps push the Germans back in brutal winter fighting.
- February, 1945 – The 75th Division moves south to reinforce the French 1st Army in pushing the Germans out of Alsace in the “Colmar Pocket”.
- March, 1945 – Jim enters Germany near Venlo for the first time since 1938 as the 75th Division moves toward the Rhine.
- March 24-29 – Jim is part of intense preparations along the Rhine as the 275th works to build a boom across the river under heavy German fire.
- April, 1945 – Jim sees his last combat as the 75th Division helps overcome the desperate German defense of the Ruhr industrial area. He is awarded the Bronze Star.
- June, 1945 – The 275th moves to Reims, France to construct and maintain massive re-deployment camps for troops waiting to go home.
- August, 1945 – Jim leads his army tennis team to Wimbledon to play in the US Armed Forces Tennis Championship and is in London for V-J Day.
- January, 1946 – Jim is assigned to organize a small hospital for occupation troops in Bad Nauheim, Germany.
- Spring, 1946 – Jim finds the German family with whom he had lived for 4 months in 1935.
- July, 1946 – Jim returns home.
- 1946-1955 – Jim launches his career in pediatrics while corresponding with the German family struggling to survive post-war Germany. The McKays send regular care packages to Germany.
- 1999 – Jim’s wife Liz dies unexpectedly. The box containing “Letters to a War Bride” is discovered.
- 2010-2012 – Tim reads aloud with his father all the letters, recording memories that they provoke.
- November 23, 2012 – Jim dies peacefully with Tim at his side.
- April, 2013 – Tim visits National Archives in College Park, Maryland to research his father’s battalion and division records.
- March and April, 2014 – Tim goes to Europe to re-trace his father’s experiences and meet people who were part of his story.
- July, 2015 – “Letters to a War Bride” is published.