ARMY TIMES
by Jack W. Mills

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There were nine children in my family, four girls and five boys. I was the middle of the boys, two older and two younger. I didn't realize just what war meant or really why we be would be drawn into it. I wasn't concerned with politics at the time. I did realize it had to be bad by the somber attitude of Mom and Pop. It is painful yet today just remembering Mom, that day when it was announced over the radio what had happened. In remembering, even today, I don't know how a mother with three sons in the war at one time and especially when all three were overseas and one in the Normandy Invasion on D-Day and one in the Infantry in Europe, could endure, she had to have been a very strong person. The country got in high gear with the draft and pretty soon boys were being called up right and left but it was a while before it got down to me. The older ones were being grabbed up before they got beyond draft age, which was 38 if I remember correctly.

I later moved to Matson, Missouri. Matson was just up the Missouri River from St. Charles, Missouri and I went to work at the Weldon Springs TNT Plant as they were just building the plant and the country was going into a full wartime footing and everything was gearing up for the war effort. I registered for the draft at St. Charles, Missouri, and was just waiting for the call to go.

I decided that I would go to Fort Worth, Texas and visit with my brother, Raymond and his wife, Mary. Raymond later volunteered for the Air Force, and was sent to California. I lived with Goldie and Millard McClendon, my sister and brother-in-law, in Fort Worth. They lived on Decatur Avenue, behind a little grocery store.

While I was waiting to get my call to go in the service, I got a job at the Swift and Company packing house in North Town and was there until we all decided to go to California and go into a defense plant.

I remember going across Arizona and it was somewhere in the Western part and the Army was on manuevers there. An Army motorcycle cop pulled along side of us and told Millard to slow that car down. There was a 55 mile speed limit and tanks and trucks were all over the place. The speed limit was set to save gasoline and tires as they was rationed. I don't remember how much you were allowed but it wasn't much.

When we got to California it must have been in the summer of l942, I can't remember the dates and times that I was there but it wasn't long. We lived in Long Beach and worked in San Pedro, for Consolidated Ship Yards they were building Liberty Ships for troop transport service. I didn't realize it at the time that in the not to distant future I would be riding on one of them going over seas.

I worked there until March, 1943 and I received my greetings and salutation from Uncle Sam who informed me that I had been selected by my friends and neighbors to go on an all expense paid cruise and that I would get to travel in foreign countries, and it wouldn't cost me a penny, food, medical and sometimes shelter thrown in to boot, I was even given a salary of $50.00 per month and after 2 years over there, I got a $4.00 per month raise and was made Private First Class. Whoopee. An order came down that anyone that was over there 18 months or more was to be made a PFC. I was sending home a $25.00 bond and paying for my insurance which was $6.50 per month and left me a grand total of $28.75 a month.

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