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In 1945, the United States was poised to take part in an intensive program to shuttle aid to war-ravaged Europe. Around the world, people struggled to move forward despite the war’s shocking horrors and overwhelming toll. The majority of “The Greatest Generation” were boarding ships home or winding down war-time jobs after years of service and sacrifice.

But a small group of others, the conscientious objectors and peace-makers, were about to do the opposite.

In the months immediately following Victory in Europe Day, men and women volunteered to accompany shipments of livestock — cattle, horses and mules — across land, sea and air to deliver them to desperately hungry families in Europe and Asia, even behind the Iron Curtain and into Japan. These were truly a peace-making missions.

The livestock distribution program was a joint effort of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and the Brethren Service Committee of the Church of the Brethren. The Church of the Brethren had risen to the call after the war, as they had been in the livestock distribution business since July of 1944 at the urging of church member Dan West, the founder of Heifer International. 

Howard Lord, who you will meet in the video, was on the SS Rock Springs Victory trip to Ethiopia in March 1947. This was a United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration trip that took UNRRA heifers and a few other animals to Greece and 248 Heifer project animals to Ethiopia. Howard, now 89, is a retired pastor. 

Howard Lord's story, in his own words.

Keep an eye on the World Ark blog every Tuesday this month for more stories of this unique piece of history. 

Author

Annie Bergman

Annie Bergman is a Global Communications Manager and helps plan, assign and develop content for the nonprofit’s website, magazine and blog. Bergman has interviewed survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, beekeepers in Honduras, women’s groups in India and war widows in Kosovo, among many others in her six years at Heifer.