WWII: The Bohemians and the Bombers

Western Fraternal Life Association has had a rich history over the course of our 115 years. Over time, our members have proven they are dedicated citizens by providing countless hours of service to their communities. However, one of our most impressive examples of nationality was contributing war equipment during WWII.

The effort began in April of 1942, wfla (known then as ZCBJ or Western Bohemian Life Association) announced a campaign to begin raising money to purchase field ambulances for the army. In less than a year, in February 1943, six ambulances were purchased. A commanding officer of the 68th Medical Regiment in Tennessee, Lt. Francis Kintz, said of one of the ambulances, “out of two hundred odd vehicles, you have endowed one of them with personality and individuality.”

The President of the Association at that time, John Rompotl (1940-1961), declared that February 12-22, 1943 would be Ambulance Fund Week. He asked that lodges hold special events specifically to raise donations for the important fund. From that effort, six additional ambulances were purchased to send overseas. In addition to the ambulances, wfla helped to remodel a room in the Schick General Hospital in Clinton, IA, an army hospital.

The excitement for contributing to the war efforts did not stop at ambulances and a hospital room. The Treasury Department of the United States was also looking for donations at the state level. In 1943, President Rompotl announced the Iowa Bomber Campaign to purchase a B-25 bomber by the Iowa lodges. A similar drive was started in Nebraska. The bombers would cost $300,000 for a heavy bomber and $175,000 for a medium bomber. It would take everyone’s effort to show, “that our members are in this fight until final victory is won” said President Rompotl.

In January 1944, President Rompotl announced the success of each campaign. The Iowa members purchased $195,000 in bonds, and a medium bomber was named “Spirit of Iowa Czechs.” In Nebraska, the members came together to donate a staggering $350,000 in bonds. A heavy bomber christen “Spirit of Czech Nebraskans” was bought. In today’s money, that would be equivalent to more than $2,500,000 for the Iowan bomber and more than $4,600,000 for the Nebraskan bomber!

Never has our patriotism shown so bright. To this day, wfla is dedicated to supporting many activities for our veterans, both at home and overseas. To learn more about what your wfla community does, check out our lodge locator  to find a lodge near you!

Tell us what you think! What is your favorite story about the lodges contributing to a cause?

**The information for this post was found in the July 1997 Centennial Issue of the Fraternal Herald.

College Students Majoring in Credit Card Debt

Most parents with children in college or nearing that age are thinking the same thing, “How can I teach my child about how to live within their means and not come out of college with a truckload of debt?” Our financial guru, Julie Cole, has some advice for parents on this subject.

Students live in a culture of debt. Many borrow tens of thousands of dollars to pay
tuition, room and board. Credit cards are readily available to most students to connect their wants with means. The average graduate of a 4-year degree program will leave school with $19,235 of student loans and $2,330 dollars of credit card debt.

Entering the working world, these new graduates may encounter lower-than-expected
salaries and higher-than-expected living expenses. College loans and credit card debt are
following college graduates into their late 30’s and 40’s. Credit card debt will affect your
ability to get car loans and mortgage loans in the future.

Credit card success starts with parents. The key to having children with successful money management skills lies with parents. Parents who teach their children basic money management skills before they hand them a credit card increase the likelihood of long-term financial success. Take the next few months, before you send your son or daughter off to college, to teach your student how to handle credit and protect their credit rating. Here are a few tips:

  • Take time to establish a monthly budget, one that has realistic numbers. Compare expenses to the budget every month. Make adjustments as necessary. Maintaining an auto tends to be the largest expense that your “almost adult” child incurs. Make sure that the monthly budget includes car repair and maintenance expenses. Budget for oil changes, replacement tires, repairs, insurance, license fees and gas.
  • Start an emergency fund. Set aside at least 10% of each summer paycheck to put into a savings account that is to be used only for emergencies.
  • Establish a credit card and limit your monthly expenses on the credit card to 10% of your overall monthly expenses. For example, if your expenses are $500 in a month, then put $50 of your expenses on the credit card. Then pay off the $50 credit card bill the next month. This will get you in the habit of paying off your credit card expenses and establish a great credit history.
  • Be on time with your credit card payment. If you are late paying, it will probably be reported on your credit history. Late payments will also incur extra late fees and finance charges. Late payments can also cause your interest rate to rise.
  • Ask your credit card company not to raise your credit limit. If you demonstrate a history of paying your credit card bill on time, the credit card company will automatically increase your credit limit periodically.
  • Avoid cash advances on credit cards. There is usually a hefty fee plus the finance charge accrues from the day you take the cash.
  • Think about every purchase you make. If you can’t afford it now, you will likely not be able to afford the purchase next month when the credit card bill comes due.
  • Parents. If your student isn’t demonstrating responsible credit card abilities before they go to college, cut up the credit card and notify the credit card company that no additionally charges are allowed.

The learning curve with credit is steep and there is little room for trial and error. Mistakes
in college can haunt students long after graduation. Credit scores can impact whether they
get their job of choice, whether they qualify for an apartment and even whether they have
to pay more to get their utilities turned on. Students, be smart, use credit wisely.