Posted by: patwogan | August 17, 2009

World War II Troop Movements

My Aunt Bess and Uncle Dayton lived on highway 75 north of Independence.  They had four children.  Naomi, Margaret, Charles, and Elizabeth.  These four cousins were my playmates throughout my childhood.  Naomi, who like Cousin George, was ten years older than I was.  Elizabeth, the youngest, was sixteen months older than I, and it was she who became my best friend growing up.

I was nine years old when Pearl Harbor brought World War II into our lives.   So my late childhood  and my very early teen age years were spent in wartime.  This brought a lot of changes into all of our lives, including rationing of  certain food stuffs, gasoline, and tires.  

My cousin George left college and enlisted.  Many of the young men in our church also enlisted in the military.  Margaret and Naomi were dating young men who enlisted in the Navy. 

Although troop movements at that time were somewhat secret, it was no secret that troop transport convoys travelled down highway 75 to duty stations in The United States.  Highway 75 was the highway we used to go to Manhattan,  and Junction City is just down the road a little way west so I assume that most of these troops were heading to Fort Riley for training.  I don’t really know that, but the Big Red One was trained in Fort Riley and it was an important part of the war.  I also have no idea how many troops were moved on that highway, but they would sometimes go by the house for hours. 

The troops were transported in open trucks for the most part.  There were a few jeeps carrying officers and some red cross ambulances along with the rest of the convoy.  Elizabeth and I took chairs out into the yard by the highway and spent our time supporting the troops by waving to them as they went by.   We felt we were being very patriotic and it was also a lot of fun as many of them waved back to us.  As I remember, sometimes we waved small American flags to show our support. 

There was never any thought in our child minds about the prospect that some of these troops might be killed.  To us it was just the romanticized young men wearing uniforms and going off to defeat the enemy.   I know now that some of these young men never returned home from foreign shores and that others had their lives altered by what they experienced.  

I also wonder what they thought about two little girls sitting in the yard, holding flags, and waving to them as they passed.  Hopefully, it might have let them know that people were behind them.  Maybe for a little moment, they were reminded of sisters, or daughters they had left behind. 

As for us, it was one of our contributions to the war effort….and a lot of fun at the same time.

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Responses

  1. I am sure it meant a lot to many of the troops to see the support not just from the two of you but all along the way. Television brought the ugliness of battles into our lives later on and removed the fantasy dreams of many little girls and boys. The uniforms were exciting but the reality was more overpowering than the fantasy to me. Gret memory though. Marine uniforms were the best


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