Edward G. Wildanger (b. Long Branch, NJ, 1925-2009) grew up in Red Bank, NJ. His parents, both "Danube Germans" born in Hungary, immigrated to the US in 1909. Trained as a carriage maker in Vienna, his father became an automobile body builder, first in NYC, then in Red Bank at J. H. Mount Company. His mother worked in the home as a homemaker. Wildanger discusses the impact of the Great Depression and early World War II periods on his family and community.
After graduating from Middletown Township High School in 1943, he volunteered for the draft, was inducted into the US Army, sent to Fort Benning, GA, for basic training, then an Army Specialized Training Corps (ASTP) engineering training class at the Citadel in Charleston, SC. After the ASTP was reduced in early 1944 due to manpower needs, the Army sent him to a heavy weapons company in the 100th Infantry Division at Fort Bragg, NC.
Deployed to Europe, Wildanger and his unit saw combat from October 1944 to V-E Day in France (Vosges Mountains/Bitche/Rimling) and Germany. He served primarily as a jeep driver for liaison officers, shuttling between his company and battalion headquarters amid air and artillery attacks. During the occupation, he served in a Military Police company in Kassel, Germany.
Utilizing the GI Bill after his discharge, he entered the Rutgers College of Engineering in 1946. He joined the ROTC and earned a US Army Signal Corps commission upon graduation from Rutgers in 1950. He served briefly at Fort Monmouth, NJ, afterwards.
After moving to California and studying at UC-Berkeley, he held mechanical engineering positions at several firms, including working on the Livermore Radiation Lab, before specializing in magnetic recorder development at companies such as Ampex and Memorex, including work in Europe. He then joined a computer memory company, Electronic Memories and Magnetics. He ended his career in furniture production, founding Eurodesign Modular Furniture and running that firm from the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s.
The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2022-2023 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.