Looking Back: Life In The Peace Corps After World War II | KUNR

Looking Back: Life In The Peace Corps After World War II

Jan 19, 2021

Michael Schop was a member of the Peace Corps who served in La Rochelle, France after World War II.  He’s also the grandfather of Hudson Heimerman, a member of the KUNR Youth Media program. To learn more, Heimerman decided to ask his grandfather what his decades-old adventures were like.

Hudson Heimerman: Grandpa, I've always been curious what you did when you were serving in the Peace Corps after World War Two. When was that, and what exactly did you do in your service?

Michael Schop: Yeah, [it was] 1960 and I came home [at] the end of ‘62. The town I lived in was called La Rochelle. I was a chauffeur for Colonel’s aid to drive him around and go to meetings and take his children to school. So, it was a pretty good job. I got to see a lot. We used to go to Germany because the Colonel that I drove was the head of U.S. forces for NATO in France. So, once a month you had to go to Munich. That was the headquarters for NATO. That's where he went for meetings and I had to drive him. Then my other job was, I would get calls from the different officers that got drunk. I was to pick them up and bring them back so that the French police wouldn't do anything to them.

Heimerman: Was being the Colonel's aid/Uber for the other soldiers, the first position you were assigned to when you arrived in France?

Schop: The first job I had in France, I was a company clerk for Veterinarian Corps. The veterinarian was in charge of the food inspection to make sure the food was all properly stored. I had to write up the reports and then we would type them and then it would go over teletype to the headquarters.

Heimerman: So, grandpa, when you weren’t busy driving the Colonel's kids around or sorting through papers, how did you spend most of your time while in France?

Schop: I had a girlfriend. We used to have a moped and we'd go around together and go to different places. Most of the families where I was stationed had homes with farms. So, I used to get invited. Sunday was the big meal for the French families. They got together. So, they would invite me to go there. I always brought them wine and they smoked like crazy. So, I used to bring them cigarettes because I was rationed so much.

Heimerman: One more thing before you go, what did you do after your 18 months of service was done?

Schop: I took my discharge in France and I was able to travel six months on my army visa. I couldn't go to any communist countries, but I traveled all over France with this young fellow from Chicago. We traveled all through France, down the coast. [We] traveled to Nice. We traveled to where the casinos were, Monaco. Then we went East into Greece. We came up North through Turkey. It was nice. We traveled roughly for, oh, I would say seven, eight weeks.

Heimerman: That all sounds very interesting grandpa. Thank you again for sharing that with us. Have a good one.

Hudson Heimerman is a junior at Reno High School. KUNR’s Youth Media program is a special partnership with the Washoe County School District to train the next generation of journalists.

KUNR's Jayden Perez adapted this story for the web.