Stirpes, Volume 34, Number 1, March 1994

MARCH 1994

us! She just shook her head. This incident gave us plenty to talk about for years after it
happened.
The winds of war involving the United States were blowing in the early forties. We,
being boys past the age of 17, discussed the situation and weighed what we wanted to do and
which branch of the service we'd like to be in. None of us wanted the infantry. That would be
just afoot soldier. We visited the recruiter, and he said that if we all joined up together we'd
all get to stay together. Famous last words!
We figured that the air force would be great and since we'd all get to stay together,
that cinched the deal. Ernest Howard, Fred Dierks and I joined. John Dierks would have gone,
but he was too thin. We were to be a total group of 2,500 who would make up the Arkansas
Battalion. First we went to Tarrant Field in Forth Worth and immediately I was separated from
Fred and Ernest. I had the choice of going to Moore Field at McAllen, Foster Field in
Victoria, or the air base at Hondo. I chose Victoria. By the time Fred and Ernest could get
their choice, the slots for Victoria were filled, so they chose McAllen. Ernest and I did not go
overseas, but Fred did. He was a crew chief on a B-24 and saw action over Germany where his
plane was shot down by the Luftwaffe. He was buried in the small German village where this
happened but later John requested his reburial in the National Cemetery in Jefferson Barracks,
Mo. Fred was one of my very best friends. I really felt like I had lost a brother.
When I arrived at Tarrant Field, the base was not even finished so I shipped on to
Foster Field in Victoria. I was in the 99th Squadron. When I arrived there was nothing but
non-commissioned officers in grade, so it was a long and rough struggle for me to attain
private first class. Finally, I made the grade by an Act of Congress in 1945. That year I
shipped to Matagorda Island and was put in charge of fuel, servicing the planes. I had under
me a staff sergeant waiting on his discharge under the point system, a PFC, and a private. The
private had been busted from buck sergeant so collectively we were a real group! I was
promoted to corporal, then the next month to buck sergeant. The very next day, the order was
rescinded as I had not been in grade long enough. The colonel assured me I would be
promoted in due time. The war was over very shortly and everyone on the island was sent to
other bases. I was sent to Port O'Connor, Tex. We did security duty on the island until early
1946 and I went back to Foster Field. We were hauling all the furnishings and other things to
Randolph Field in San Antonio to await our discharge. During my army/air force career, I had
never seen bigger than a chicken colonel however, one day at noon a call came in to pick up a
4 star General. I was the only driver at this time in the motor pool. So I put the flags on the
Cadillac and went out to the ramp. He was a very nice and polite man. He told me to drive
him to the officer's mess, which I did. He told me what time I should pick him up. He did not
call me soldier or corporal -- he called me son. I was very much at ease with him and was glad
to have this experience. A few days later I shipped to Camp Fannin in Tyler, where I got my
discharge. By this time, my wife Marjorie and I had been married almost two years. Our
wedding day was June 22, 1944.
In looking back over my life, I have mixed feelings. Reality tells me that in the first
part of my life, I don't know how much harder I could have had it. My family lived in places
ranging from a dugout area in a mound of earth to all kinds of poorhouses, sometimes just
anywhere we could get some shelter. My mother had to die because no doctor would come to
assist where there was no money. To me that was not just. Fate stepped in when my father as a
13-year-old became at odds with his older brother and left to live his life on his own. He was
in no way prepared to do this and as a result he never became educated enough to make a
decent living. Compounded by the Depression: two strikes here and one is almost out.
The Lord intervened when our little family was sent to Little Rock. There our basic
needs were met and all were adopted into nice homes. Actually, I believe that I was too old to

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Texas State Genealogical Society. Stirpes, Volume 34, Number 1, March 1994. San Antonio, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth39868/. Accessed August 30, 2014.