Chapter 8

 

Chapter 8

 

Friday April 30,1946 a directive came down from Army Headquarters that all GIs that had 2 years of service would shipped back to the states immediately and separated from the Army. I had over 25 months and was elgible. We were to get our gear together and be ready to leave on Sunday May 2.  Saturday May 1, was a big Holiday (May Day) in Europe and we were leaving the next day. Bibbs and I spent Saturday with some Ladies and got ready to leave Landschut on Sunday. After a final goodbye to our buddies we were taken to the Railroad Station and expected to get on a coach and ride to Bermerhaven where we would get a boat for New York. Instead we were loaded into boxcars with hay on the floor to sleep on just like when we moved up to the front. We didn’t complain a lot as we were going home. The train moved along slowly and we sat in the doorway and looked at the countryside and the Cities as we went through them. Finally we got to Bremerhaven and were put in barracks for final processing to the States.  We had seen all across Germany as we were driving the Germans out a small drawing of Kilroy Was Here. It appeared in almost every city we took. The GIs had picked up on it and was drawing this little image of a head and shoulders with a long nose looking over a fence. And under it was the words, “Kilroy Was Here” Now we had seen it all along the railway to Bremerhaven. Also acres and acres of tanks, trucks,weapon carriers and jeeps lined up in fields GI fashion neatly parked. We stayed in Bremerhaven for about a week as there many guys going home and had to be processed before leaving. They had allowed us to bring one weapon back to the states as a souviner. I had a European Remington 9mm automatic pistol that was a replica of the US .45 cal. pistol that was carried by officers. I had a holster made by a German Leather Smith and it looked just like the .45 I was all set as I had it verified by an Officer in our outfit so I was fine. Some of the Guys had two or three nice pistols and when they found out they could only take one back to the States they smashed the others on the cement pavement and destroyed them.

Also they had our pay book and if you had over a certain amount you couldn’t change it for American Dollars. They went back on your pay book and allowed you so much based on how much your monthly pay was. Some of the fellows was playing in the Black Market and had a fist full of Dollars. They were only allowed to change so much and the remainder was worthless  unless you was staying in Europe. This was a great way to stifle the Black Market and stop a drain on currency leaving Europe for the States. Early on some of the guys were taking a lot of money to the states and now the Army had plugged that hole.

We were told when we would ship out for the states. A small Liberty ship was waiting in the Harbor and loading troops for N.Y. A buddy and I, Willis J. McCailias from Cheyenne, Wyoming boarded and got a bunk and stowed our gear. Red as we called him because of his red hair was our Company Barber and he was a barber in Cheyenne before he went into the service. We were ready to get under way and a Merchant seaman asked us if we wanted to buy a pint of whiskey. Red and I split the cost of a pint. We took a swig as we were leaving the harbor and not another drink until we reached N.Y. I was sea sick for the 9 days we were at sea.

We were on a small Liberty Ship called U.S.S. Maritime Victory. there were 1700 GIs on the boat and it twisted and rolled so bad I had to lay in my bunk all the way across from sea sickness. One morning we came slowly down the Hudson Bay by the Statue Of Liberty and that was a beautiful sight. We unloaded and got on a waiting troop train and went to Fort Meade Md. That evening we had steak for supper as was the custom. All troops returning from Europe to the States was treated to a steak dinner and we really enjoyed that. We stayed there a few days and the guys started fanning out all across the country to the closest camp to their homes for discharge. We finally boarded a troop train for Camp Atterbury, Ind. Fort Meade was the place where you said so long to your buddies and maybe never to see them again. We were being processed through and at our exiting physical examination I had a small boil on the back left hip and they wouldn’t discharge me until I went to the hospital and had that taken care of.

I stayed in the Hospital at Camp Atterbury for a week while they treated the boil and was taking penicillin shots every three hours. The nurses would wake me up in the middle of the night jamming that needle in my arm. Finally Saturday June 8,1946 I received my discharge and final pay.

This ended my career with the United States Army. I would remember back on that day April 24,1944 when it all started and the ground I had covered and the Guys I had met. The devistation I had seen and all of the pain and suffering of people, Death and destruction. It sure made me feel good to be in a Country of freedom for all.

I left the Army with the rank Technician 5th Grade, 18 months of foregin service, Unit Citation Badge with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, (Major Campagins) Combat Infantry Badge, ETO Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Two French Citations, and others. Also Gold Hash Marks half way up the left sleeve of my “IKE” jacket.

I boarded a bus at Camp Atterbury with a change of clothes in my duffle bag and was headed for Louisville, Ky. I went to the Greyhound Bus Station there and bought a ticket for Richmond, Ky. This was around 3:00 PM and I had to wait until 11:00 P.M. for the bus to Lexington and on to Richmond. There I bought a ticket for Irvine. I met a Guy on the bus coming from Camp Atterbury and when we got to Louisville and got our tickets we both had a long wait until our bus left. He was going to Beverly, Ky. His bus left at 10:00 P.M. so we had some time on our hands.

We hung around the bus station for a while and ate a hamburger at the White Castle hamburg shop near the bus station. I had eaten there when I had lived with Galena. It was located near Broadway and Sixth Sts. I loved those hamburgers and I thought I would treat myself to a couple since it had been a long time since I had one. We bummed around on Broadway watching all of the people and Soldiers scurring around as it was Saturday night, There was a lot of activity going on. We were enjoying the activity and feeling free as a civilian again. We still had to salute officers as we were still in uniform. We stood out a bit as we were wearing our Ruptured Duck and a lot of gold colored hash marks on our left sleeve. Also the Combat Infantry Badge and our ribbons proudly displayed on our chest. We were feeling pretty good.

We decided to take in a movie and seen The Postman Always Rings Twice. Soon my buddy left on his bus and I had another hour to kill. Soon I was on my way to Lexington. I had to stand up in the aisle and had given my seat to a Lady with a child. I was used to not living with modern conveniences and it didn’t matter. We reached Lexington and I transferred to a bus for Richmond. Things was starting to look familiar as we got to Clays Ferry where I had worked for Mr. Hatton. I could see the poles that we had set and the lines we had built and soon we were in Richmond. From here I would board the Black Bros. bus and go home with a stop in Irvine. I bought a ticket for Irvine as they didn’t have a place called Millers Creek on their ticket schedule.

My duffle bag hadn’t made the bus for Lexington and was still in Louisville, but I had my hand bag with a change of clothes so it didn’t matter much. The Driver said it would be forwarded to me so I didn’t worry. It was early in the morning and I would get home about 7:00 AM. I got off the bus and walked down the steps to the house and Etta Clay was on the front porch to greet me. Ma was sitting in the back of the house and I went back to greet her also.Her arithitis had gotten worse and she wasn’t getting around very well. Etta Clays friend from High school had come to visit her for the weekend and was there. Her name was Louise Harris and they were good High School friends.

Dad was over at Bryan Samples store on this early Sunday morning and he had seen the bus stop and me walk down the steps in my tan Uniform so he set out for home. I walked up to the road and sure enough he was coming across the fill we called the Samples crossing. Soon he was at the house and I went out on the front porch to greet him. Dad was not a very emotional man, But he grabbed me and hugged me and he started to cry. He said, Son, I never thought I would see you again. We sat on the front porch and  visited.

Later in the day Tom Howell passed by and  when he came back he stopped and I went up to the road to greet him. He had a girl with him and asked me if I wanted to go for a ride. I declined as I had just gotten home and wanted to be with my parents and sister. He was driving a Black1934 Ford sedan with the doors opening toward the front. We would get together the next day Monday.

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