By Anna Haynes
BREWSTER - - Les McCormick was drafted into the Army in 1942. He completed his basic training in Fort Smith, Ark., at Camp Chaffee. He then went to Nashville, Tenn. for maneuvers and then on to Camp Campbell, Kent. to prepare for battle in Europe.
The night before he shipped out of Camp Shanks, N. J., he won $300 playing dice. By the time they arrived in Marcel’s, France, he was broke from playing cards! They played rummy and pitch in their free time. He also remembers purchasing a carton of cigarettes for 50 cents.
When they arrived in France, they had to march to the staging area with full field pack; the pack was very heavy and they had to walk about 15 miles. This is where they were issued their guns, supplies and tanks. He still remembers his Service Spec number and he used to know his rifle number up until just a couple years ago.
They would get their rations, tobacco, stick of gum, and hard Tropical Hershey Chocolate. The little French kids would run up to the soldiers and want their chocolate. It was really hard so they usually got it.
Les served in combat in 1944 and 1945. This included combat in central Europe including the Rhineland.
The whole time Les was in Europe and missing home, he had a little wallet-sized school picture of his favorite cousin, Frances Davis. This picture from home helped him during the many homesick moments.
When Les was discharged in October 1945, he remembers the end of his journey home. He got on the train in Sheridan, Wyo. at 11:45 a.m., and arrived in Dunning the next morning. The mailman, Howard Lister, picked him up at the depot and drove him to his mom and dad’s mail box and Les walked the mail on home.
It was good to be home.
Honoring the Veterans of World War II
McCormick along with three veterans from Custer County, Glen Buchta of Broken Bow, Eugene Chartraw of Ansley and Arleigh Sintek of Mason City will be among the group traveling to Washington, DC this week to view the World War II Memorial, built in their honor.
Each Veteran laid his/her life on the line to collectively and literally save the world and create a safe haven for democracy and personal freedom. The youngest WWII Veteran, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, is 83-years- old. Time is running out for our honored Veterans.
Most of them have no hope of viewing the memorial dedicated to them unless someone steps up and gives them the opportunity to take the trip of a lifetime. The men and women who gave all to preserve our freedoms and insure our future deserve an incredible “thank you” for a debt we cannot repay.
The American Legion Post 52 and Buffalo County WWII Hero Flight are co-sponsoring the Regional World War II Hero Flight. McCormick and the three Custer County veterans - Glen Buchta, Arleigh Sintek and Eugene Chartraw - are being sponsored by Custer County Hero Flight.