participated in the Normandy Invasion on Omaha Beach with
Boat Crew #8. My contribution to your archives comes from a
letter that I had written to my two daughters, Lynn and Su An, explaining some of the events of the war.
November 10, 1990
Dear Lynn & Su An:
We had snow for a couple of days, but the sun is shining now.
It appears that we will have a wetter and colder winter than last,
so everyone says.
While attending my Army unit reunion, 146th Combat Engineering
Battalion in Lake Havasu City, AZ on October 9th, there was a discussion about our not having told our children
about our Army experiences. They said there were many cases where the children of
G.I.s said they wanted to know about what their fathers and mothers went through, especially in
combat but their fathers never spoke much about it.
I don't remember or know whether I ever said
much to you girls or not, so I will take this time to tell you what
happened as I recall it so Josh and Matthew will know someday what
combat could be like and not what they see on T.V. I was living with my
mother and working, at the open pit copper mine in Ruth, Nevada to help support my younger sisters
Vera, Darlene, Neva, Peggy, and my brother Lue.
brother, was two years older; he was married and living in Ely, Nevada.
Mother was working in the Post Office. The government started the draft and I wasn't that concerned
about being drafted so I decided to buy a car because we had no way
to get around. I went to a garage in Ruth to look at an old used
car and was going to take it for a test drive when the news came
over the radio that Pearl Harbor was bombed (no TV then).
Mr. Hall, the garage owner, that under the circumstances, I did not
think I should take the car because I knew that I would be drafted
pretty soon and would not be able to afford it on Army pay. He told me that if I wanted the car to take it and if I was
drafted I could finish paying for it when I got home from the Army. While I
was in the service, Grandma A learned how to drive it.
I will finish the story about the car later.
Oma enlisted in the WACs and quit teaching school in Ruth beginning the
Christmas holiday of 1942. We had dated a couple of times before then. I was drafted on January 28, 1943 and then
shipped to Ft. Douglas, Utah, where I was sworn into the Army on Feb.
From there I was shipped to Camp Swift Texas near Bastrop, TX
where I went through basic training. My group then became the 146th Combat Engineering Battalion.
Soon after that I received my PFC stripe, then corporal, and at the end of training I became a
During our training I attended demolition school and became
a squad leader. Just before we were shipped overseas I had one week furlough to go
home to Ruth, NV to visit the family. We were sent by train
from Texas to Boston on October 9th. After a week or two there we
were loaded on a British ship and sent to Liverpool, England. The
ship we were on was fast enough to outrun German submarines so we
didn't have to go by convoy.
A lot of us were sea sick most of the
time and even though we had a submarine scare one evening it didn't
take away the sea sickness. Upon arriving in Liverpool we took a train south to
Barnstable, south of the Bristol Channel, where we started our invasion training on an old golf course. The club house was
turned into the headquarters building.
We lived in tents with 5
men to a tent. For training we made obstacles just off the beach
out of cement, ditches, iron, etc., to stop tanks. I was over the
mine and booby trap squad on our boat crew and we practiced picking up mines
and booby traps and also laying them. We used giant firecrackers
instead of TNT and dynamite for practice and I'm glad we did because I would have blown
myself up a few times had we not.
We did have a few accidents and fatalities during training.
As we were practicing making hand grenades with 1/4 lb blocks of
TNT, one of the fellows (Pvt. Vest) was killed when the grenade blew up as he pulled
the fuse lighter. I turned around just as he was being blown backwards. The Lt. and I rushed over to him.
made a stretcher out of our rifles and took him to the hospital in
a truck. His arm and leg were blown off and he was burned with internal injuries. On the way to the hospital he kept asking me
to put a blanket around his foot as it was cold.
He died soon
after we arrived at the hospital so we went back to our tents. I
was smoking at the time but couldn't smoke or eat dinner as I kept
smelling and tasting burned flesh from picking him up and putting
him on the stretcher. I think I took about 3 showers that evening
with G.I. soap before trying to eat again and I still couldn't overcome the smell of burned flesh for about 3 days.
One day Lt. Ross, who now lives in Portland, Oregon came to us and said things were happening and that we would be
leaving for the south coast of England for final briefing and the
invasion. I think we went to Portsmouth or Southampton.