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World War II and me


Posted: October 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Having grown up and lived in Miami, Florida, I was drafted into the army two weeks after graduating from high school June 1943, and had basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama.

One part of the training involved walking 22 miles over a mountain during which a number of the boys passed out.

so, when an Air Force recruiter came around I was convinced to sign up with them.

Having passed their test, I was sent to Oklahoma’s A & M College for two months of aerodynamics training before being sent to Kessler Field, Biloxi, Mississippi.

We all thought we would end up as pilots or bombardiers, but that never happened. Because, at that point, we were transferred back to infantry as no more flyers were needed.

Instead, we ended up in Alexandria, Va. for advanced infantry training. 

While there we watched D-Day on television. I heard that my original division, the 82nd airborne, jumped behind enemy lines at 5 a.m. in the morning and that most of the invasion troops were dropped off in waist-high water.
They told me that there were a lot of dead GI’s and that the ocean was red with blood (thank god I missed that battle).

In July we were sent to New York and then on to England, arriving three months after D-Day.

A friend suggested we join the paratroopers (which would save us from going to the front lines for a few weeks).

I remember one fellow was killed during training as his parachute didn’t open.

After jump school I was put back in the 82nd airborne which had just made a jump in Nimagen, Holland.

During that time I remained stationed in England doing clerical duties until later joining the rest of the 82nd in Lyon, France.

When I came back to the barracks after a pass in town I was told we were going into combat in the morning.  Hitler had started his last big offensive in the Ardennes Forest. 

By morning, however, the weather was so bad that all planes were grounded and we were put in big cattle trucks to be transported through three countries.

The first thing I saw upon reaching the front lines was a burning tank. We later met up with a German patrol, but in the darkness of night, somehow, we both went our separate ways. 

It was during these days of tramping through snow that I ended up with mostly frozen feet, and to my surprise was awarded the Purple Heart.

The war in Europe was over shortly after November 1945 and we were sent to Berlin, Germany for occupation duty.

They wanted me to come home on the Queen Mary and march down New York’s 5th Avenue, but I just wanted to get home so I took another smaller ship and arrived in Miami, Florida January 1946.

From there I attended the University of Miami, got a Bachelor of Music Degree, taught school for one year before marrying my first wife and had a career of teaching.

I was married for 55 years before my wife died. I married again in 2007, but she also died in 2011.

And now, at age 88, I am still gratified when, sometimes, upon wearing my WWII veterans cap in a restaurant, someone will come thank me for my service and offer to pay for my meal!


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