By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers
Date of Birth: March 17, 1924
Dates of service: April 1944 to April 1946
Hometown: Motley County, near Matador, Texas
Lives in: Clovis
Theater or location of service: Europe, Italy
Rank: Pvt. 1st class
Unit and specialty: 10th Mountain Division, Mule Packer
After discharge: Motley County
To the mountains: As a farm boy going into the Army, the last thing Vinson expected to find himself doing was working with mules, albeit, on the other side of the world.
As he describes it, the 10th Mountain Division began as a group of well -to-do sportsmen, skiers, mountain climbers and the like. It was an elite bunch primarily because their experience was drawn from a position of privilege but also because their skills in the mountains gave them an advantage — the ability to go into areas that the enemy did not anticipate.
Mules turned out to be something he adapted to well. It was his job to guide the mules carrying supplies through the mountains of northern Italy. His division was the last to go into combat and on Christmas Day 1944, they led the final drive into northern Italy through the Poe Valley.
Vinson, who said he broke the shooting range record at Camp Swift in Texas, was awarded for meritorious achievement in ground combat and was also a recipient of the Bronze Star.
Date of birth: Dec. 4, 1920
Dates of Service: 1942 to November 1945
Hometown: Littlefield, Texas
Lives in: Grady
Theater or location of service: Alusian Islands, Guam
Rank: Carpenter’s mate, 1st class
Unit and Specialty: Construction battalion
After discharge: Grady
Hands-on job: Allen’s Navy construction battalion was responsible for going into a new area after it was secured, and to build the necessary infrastructure for the use of Allied troops.
The projects he worked on include a Marine barracks on the island of Atu, wooden docks for ships on the island of Guam, and steel mesh runways for the jets to land on in the Aleutian Islands.
On Guam, Allen recalls boarding a Red Cross hospital ship coming into the docks. He remembers with awe the Japanese plane buried several decks down, in the surgery room, and seeing the kamikaze pilot in the cockpit.
Initially doing carpentry, Allen was also trained on heavy equipment prior to returning home to a life of farming.
Date of birth: Sept. 24, 1926
Dates of service: Nov. 20, 1944, to Aug. 31, 1946
Lives in: Portales
Theater or location of service: Africa and Europe (France, Germany, Belgium)
Rank: Tech Sergeant, fourth grade
Unit and specialty: 3rd infantry, trained as combat soldier, cook.
Discharge location: Fort San Houston, San Antonio, Texas
On the ground: Lamb recalls that, after the war was officially ended in Europe, the American soldiers continued to encounter problems and conflicts.
Specifically, it seemed to be the youth who resisted the surrender, carrying on bombings and assassinations that prolonged the war for the soldiers who were still on the ground, Lamb said.
Aside from direct combat, there were other duties. His unit was left behind to guard prisoners in a castle on the Rhine River in Germany. With only one unit responsible for sa group of 200 to 300 prisoners, he remembers being concerned and feeling a sense of vulnerability.
Lamb said the war had a tremendous impact on his livelihood later: the continuous sound of firing of artillery permanently destroyed his hearing.
Date of birth: Jan. 15, 1926
Dates of Service: 1943 to 1946
Hometown: Pleasant Hill
Lives in: Clovis
Theater or location of service: South Pacific, Philippine liberation — 10 invasions
Branch: Navy reserves
Rank: Quartermaster, 2nd Class
Unit and Specialty: 7th fleet, USS Bailey DD492 navigator/quartermaster
After discharge: Pleasant Hill
Young and restless: The youngest sailor on his ship at 17, Horton remembers being full of the fearlessness of youth.
According to Horton, he was given menial jobs and his distaste for Navy life led him to feeling disgruntled and going into fights. One of those fights resulted in a career change.
Horton recalls how a shipmate started giving him a hard time, so he “whooped his butt pretty good.” After the fight, Horton marched up to the bridge and unloaded his frustrations on the ship captain, telling him he wanted to be a real Marine, such as the ones he had seen during the last invasion.
Horton said the captain reminded him he was in the Navy, not the Marines, and asked him what he would like to do.
Horton told the captain he wanted to be a quartermaster, the highest position he could think, although he had no real idea what a quartermaster actually did.
To his surprise, the captain promoted him to quartermaster.
Horton began his service on the bridge, working closely with the captain from that point on. Horton said he never left the captain’s side, even during the frequent attacks. Japanese planes flew overhead and sprayed the ship with nonstop fire.
During these attacks Horton remembers fellow shipmates running from one side of the ship to the other, trying to avoid the rain of bullets that killed indiscriminately.
“I wasn’t afraid of anything,” he said. “I told one fellow who was running back and forth: If it’s your time, the bullets are gonna get you, whether you’re on this side of the bridge or that side.’”
Horton said his war experiences stayed with him over the years. He recalls the “last suppers” the sailors were served prior to invasions, the Japanese suicide dive bombers, the enemy submarines, and seeing his best friend die.
Other memories include bar fights during shore leave, seeing Fiji and Wellington, and a Halloween party in New Zealand where he had the best steak and eggs in his life for 25¢.
Date of birth: Feb. 1, 1923
Dates of service: 1942 to 1946
Hometown: Bridgeport, Texas
Theater or location of service: Pacific
Rank: Lieutenant JG
Unit and specialty: Officer in command of an amphibious craft that transported troops and tanks
After discharge: Bridgeport, Texas
On the move: Waters commanded a crew of 12 on an amphibious craft measuring 118 by 32 feet, capable of carrying six 33-ton Sherman tanks.
From the ships into Pearl Harbor, the amphibious craft transported equipment as well as troops, mostly men returning from combat.
Waters describes them as “too exhausted” to celebrate. He recalls one man who committed suicide by jumping overboard in full battle dress. “He was tired and ready to quit.”
Life on the transport craft included “routine things” as he puts it, and recalls that they had full quarters, a dining hall, “and other accommodations.”
Never far from the harbor, Waters and his crew were frequently able to go ashore in Pearl Harbor and he recalls drinking at the Officer’s Club.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Waters said, acknowledging that it was because of the GI Bill that he was able to attend and complete dental school, which gave him a 55-year-old career — and counting — as a dentist with his own private practice in Clovis.