On February 17th, 1944, Bill Koch (H. William Koch) sent a Western Union
cablegram telling his father, John William Koch, that he had "arrived safely"
in London. Bill's mission was to install and demonstrate a portable 4.5 Mev
betatron to be used by the British to x-ray and then defuse bombs that had been
dropped, but not exploded. The bombs were being delivered by V-2 rockets sent
by Germans from Holland to London in World War II.
The betatron had been built at the University of Illinois under contract to the
British by the betatron's developer, Donald W. Kerst. Bill was in charge of
testing the machine at the U of Illinois and its eventual delivery to the
British at the Woolwich Arsenal in London. This experience as a 23-year-old
physicist was one of the memorable events described by Bill to his son, John
Allen Koch. The occasion to do so came on August 10, 1999, some 55 years later,
in the retirement apartment of his parents, Bill and Becky Koch, in Colorado
John had come for a one week visit. During that visit, John asked: "Dad, what
did you do during World War II?". Somewhat surprised that he did not know, Bill
proceeded to summarize the London experiences with the bomb disposal group as
well as other related experiences. As he concluded, Bill was asked by his son
to write down more of his experiences in his career and his family. John felt
that he and his siblings never did know many details of Bill's life away
from home. This Website is Bill's response to John's request.
Bill and Becky wrote this autobiography for their five "Kids" and their Kids
children. It was written in the third person (he, they, Bill, Becky) so as to
make it more readable by them as well as other relatives and friends. Because
it emphasizes Bill's professional career for the benefit of the Kids, it is
intentionally one-sided and about him. However, the written text describing the
Koch family life hopefully makes clear that it was Becky's good nature, hard
work, and love that made the family run as productively, smoothly and happily
as it did.
For this limited audience, this Website attempts to explain how it was possible for Bill
Koch to serve consecutively as heads of two important national
organizations; and to raise simultaneously with Becky, of course, a relatively large family of five normal and healthy kids.
Fortunately, the family was raised at a time when two incomes were not a
requirement and the wife was able to spend much of her career as a mother and
not also as a wage earner. The five kids acknowledged the family accomplishments
when they reached marrying ages. They announced to their parents that their
future families could not possibly have five children each even though their
parents had set such an excellent example for them. Their plans were to have
only two children per family, a plan that almost worked.
Bill and Becky Koch