Monday, May 30, 2011

Honoring my Dad for Memorial Day!

My Dad, Harold, better known as "Sarge" during those days, served in the Army during World War II and during the Korean War. He enlisted when he was 18 years old, on his birthday. He was inducted into service on 5 June 1943. For a year he trained in parachuting and gliding as a private in Fort Bliss, Texas with the airborne troops. The Army decided not to put so many men into airborne because they were losing too many men, so he was transferred into the infantry. Good thing or there was a good chance I'd have never existed. lol!

He went overseas on 12 Aug 1944 and joined Company F, 110th Infantry, 2nd Battalion, 28 Division as a replacement. The 28th Division was in France at the time and they liberated Paris after he joined them. He also participated in the Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe campaigns. He was a Platoon Sergeant.

He was wounded twice. The first time was shrapnel from an artillery shelling and the second time he wasn't sure what it was, but he thought it was a sniper's bullet. The second time he was evacuated to Paris, France and then to England for medical treatment. He wrote his mother on 8 November 1944, just 3 months after arriving in Europe, that he was in a hospital in Paris with a slight injury.
On 21 May 1945 he wrote his mother that he earned the oak leaf cluster on his purple heart from a concussion and back injury when he had actually been shot in the leg. He didn't want her to worry.

On 7 May 1945 he wrote his mother "Well the war in Europe is over. Sure am glad of that. " He was just paid 6 months pay - $490.00. He saved $40.00 for a pass to Paris and sent the rest home. After the war his unit occupied Saarbrucken, Germany until his return to the states. He wrote his mother "I'm starting to put on weight. I was down to 160 lbs. which was 36 lbs. less than when I came overseas".

On 25 June 1945 he wrote "Well I got 2 more battle stars yesterday and that gave me 3 of them and 57 points. Now if I get the other one it will give me 62 instead of 63 points." He needed 85 battle points to go home. He was just appointed as a Platoon Sergeant and had 33 men under him. He talked about his old job as machine gun section leader where he had 2 squads under him. With the new job he would have 2 machine gun squads and 3 mortar squads under him. The new job would give him a TSgt rating which drew about 115 dollars in the states and 150 dollars overseas. My Dad was offered a battlefield commission of 2nd Lieutenant but turned it down. He returned to the United States on 26 July 1945 and was discharged on 20 Nov 1945.

For his service he was awarded the European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with Four Bronze Campaign Stars, a Purple Heart Medal with One Oakleaf Cluster, the Combat Infantryman Badge, Good Conduct Medal and American Theater Ribbon. In the late 1970s, early 1980s he was also awarded the Bronze Star. In August 2002, just two months before his death, he received a certificate from the French government for his role in liberating France.

During the Korean War he joined a reserve unit in Baraboo, WI that had been activated. "Sarge" was recalled into active duty on 23 Jan 1951. He spent time at Camp Carson in Colorado training in engineering and then did some construction work at Fort Riley, Kansas. He was trained in The ENGR School at Ft. Belvoir, VA as well and spent time in Newfoundland, Labrador and Greenland renovating World War II bases that were abandoned after World War II. One of those places was in Sondrestromfjord in Greenland. He again was offered a First Lieutenant's commission because of his experience in WWII, but he turned it down again. He was discharged 1 Nov 1952 as a Master Sergeant.

My Dad passed away in 2002 and I miss him dearly. I am very proud of who he was. When I drive past Fort Carson I think of the time he spent there. (-;


Jacque Strong said...

It's now wonder you are so proud of your dad and I'll just bet there is a bunch of Gr8 stories you could tell about him. I just want to say I'm sure your daddy was very proud of you too! You have a wonderful heart.

Josie said...

Connie.....what a wonderful story! You did a beautiful job of sharing this with us....I am sure he is so proud of you! You resemble your dad! Josie in Texas