Valles Mines, Missouri, U S A
Founded in 1749 by Francois Valle in the French Upper Louisiana before Lewis and Clark. 275 years later the Valle Mining Company's 4000+ acre property every year absorbs 21,000 tons of carbon dioxide and generates
14,000 tons of oxygen, enough to meet the needs of 63,000 people. [USDA Forest Facts]
Skip Navigation Links
General Store
Main Street
Mining Heritage
Mining Museum
Lost History Museum
Miner News

The Valles Mines Holocaust & Military Exhibits

Mina Harrison, American Red Cross volunteer,
Witness to The Holocaust

Née Wilhelmina Kuzmenko and born in Philadelphia of naturalized Ukrainian parents, Mina graduated from Quaker School at 17 in 1944 and signed up with the American Red Cross by stealing and altering her older sister's birth certificate. "Everybody liked George M. Cohan's music so I adopted his name. Oh Boy! You can take a lie to the ends of the Earth but you can't come back." Trying to get retirement benefits and a passport decades later would prove to be a challenge. She served as president of the Valle Mining Company from 1983 until her death from cancer in 1987.

Now as Minna Cohan, she shipped out to England "to serve coffee and donuts to our boys". But when the push came for the invasion any day, her boss told her, "It's time to go home to Philly". Instead she volunteered to land on Normandy Beach D-Day+4 (June 10th), getting assigned to duty in a front line field hospital of "Patton's Army". There she got used to living rough and "getting strafed at night by Gerry".
Six months later, December 16th, 1944, she survived the Battle Of The Bulge when 200,000 German troops broke through the Allied lines. British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill stated, "This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war..." From her point of view she remembered the casualties, estimating "1,200 soldiers died in my arms". Casualty estimates later on each side reached 75-80,000 according to some. "With the wards so full, my head nurse taught me how to sleep standing up. The wounded just kept coming in. And I have never been so cold in my life". While the Allies fought for Freedom, many Germans saw this battle as the last chance at defending their Homeland, and many Nazis defended their tyrannical "Third Reich".
` Perhaps more significant, the teenage girl fresh out of a Philadelphia Quaker School also volunteered to be captured twice by the Nazis in order to establish where their front lines were located in the chaos of the inexorable Nazi advance. While both sides had reached "Take No Prisoners" status, she figured that as a neutral Red Cross worker who treated both enemy and friendly casualties, she had a good chance of surviving. Captured not once but twice, after the war she was awarded the Medal Of Freedom, the highest civilian award for this. As she related, "When a German sergeant grabbed me, I hauled off and hit him across the face as hard as I could and yelled at him in my schoolgirl German, "You save me for your Commandante!" Thank goodness my father spoke seven languages and taught us kids. It probably saved my life right there. When I met with their commander, I tried my poor German again but he surprised me with his perfect English. "You are lost!" I informed him, but then he tells me, "It is you who are lost, fraulein. We know exactly where we are. What are you doing out here so far from your lines?" and sends me back on exactly the right road. Brother, that was a close call."

"Getting back [inside her lines] was no walk in the park either. The Germans had spies impersonating American soldiers and how could you tell anyone wasn't a spy? I mean a lot of them went to school in America before being called up for service back in Germany. Our front lines were "Shoot-First-and-Ask- Questions-Later". When I rolled up in my Jeep, I was held at gunpoint again but by our guys this time."

"But the funny thing was, although the German spies spoke English, they couldn't sing this silly little song [see below] which I had been taught to sing to get back inside our lines. Anyone who'd ever been to Jersey could do it easy but not the Nazi spies."

MerseyDotes ["Mares eat oats]
And DoseyDotes ["and does eat oats"]
And little lamsey-divey ["and little lambs eat ivy"],
a kiddley-divey-two wooden ewe ["a kid will eat ivy too. Wouldn't you?"].

"So I sang them the password song and here I am today".

Liberating Death Camps. The war is almost over. April 1945.

One of her final duties: Feed Lifesavers™ to "the Living Dead"

In liberating Nazi Death Camps, the Red Cross found many prisoners too thin ever to be expected to recover from their starvation. Even though for those prisoners the Nazi regime of The Holocaust had been defeated, ironically all they could eat was this candy, Lifesavers®. Mina's job was to hand them out.

"When we arrived the furnaces were still burning."

As a nurse in the front lines of Patton's Third army, her unit supported his front line units when they reached and liberated Dachau, Buchenwald,Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen.

[WARNING - Genocide photos - Not suitable for children.]
1) Holocaust pictures from her own camera at Dachau and Signal Corps pictures they gave her of other camps.
2) Edward R. Murrow onsite reporting Buchenwald, an audio broadcast of what she witnessed too.
3) Dachau Memoria Historical website with Virtual tour in 20 stations
4) Dachau Memoria Historical website: Virtual tour 7.2 "Prisoner Baths"

Next: War Bride. They meet again after the War and...

Next, a new Job as peacetime Army wife and Charitable Fund Raiser

After following her across Europe from back at Patton's General Staff Headquarters after their accidental meeting in England bofore D-Day, he finally found Mina Cohan alive after all the events she experienced. After VE-Day he asked her to marry him and and they did in Munich, in one of the few buildings still standing.

Below, his career and their path together continued...

Missouri's 102nd Ozark Division - From Patton's Staff to Missouri's Commanding General

20 years later, at home in Missouri, he would build the 102nd into a crack Army fighting force after succeeding Major General Leif Sverdrup as Commanding General of the 102nd Infantry Division, United States Army.

Until Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered 28,800 of its soldiers sent to Vietnam, stripping it down to 1,200 men, and eventually converting the 102nd from an Army Reserve Division to 102nd ARCOM, National Guard.