dusk near Cuernavaca

dusk near Cuernavaca

Sunday, May 29, 2016

My Father in World War II

My father was a veteran of World War II.  He did not talk a great deal about the war, but from what he did mention, and from records that I found from my genealogical research, I was able to piece together his wartime experience.

When the war broke out, my dad was not drafted, probably because of his age.  He was approaching his 30th birthday.  But because he and my mother did not yet have any children, he felt that it was his duty to enlist.  He enlisted in the army on December 28th, 1943.  By February of 1944 he had completed infantry training in heavy weapons at Camp Blanding, Florida.  He wanted to be a paratrooper, but he was too old.  However, there was a misprint on his birth certificate which enabled him to enter paratrooper school.  He completed that training in July of 1944.  In September of that year he made the crossing to Europe on the Queen Mary, the luxury liner that had been put to use for troop transport. 

He was in England and Scotland for a while until his unit, the 82nd Airborne Division, Company B, 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment, was deployed for battle.  He had missed the Normandy invasion, but he served in the Ardennes and Rhineland campaigns which put him in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge.  He was manning a machine gun on January 7, 1945, when he was hit in the leg by enemy fire.  It is due to that injury that I am here to tell this story.  As he was being taken away on a stretcher, the soldier who took his place at the machine gun was immediately killed.

My father spent the rest of the war in hospitals in Paris.  His wound had become infected, and gangrene began to set in.  If it had not been for the discovery of penicillin, he would have lost his leg.  For the rest of his life he had shrapnel in his leg.

He returned to the United States in May of 1945 and was discharged the following year.  He was paid $122.65 (including $15.85 travel pay) upon mustering out. 

My father's Purple Heart


  1. My Dad was at Guadalcanal, the turning point of the Pacific War.
    He was drafted at age 18...imagine that. My brother and I were
    always told to never bring the topic up. How that must have
    changed him and at such a young age. At least he lived through

    1. It is hard to fathom what soldiers in battle go through. General Sherman was surely correct when he famously said, "War is hell."
      Thanks for commenting, Joan.

  2. What an interesting story! May your dad rest in peace.


    Kim G
    CDMX, México