This story, submitted by Paul Anderson, was originally published Feb. 28, 2001, in Cavalcade: Honoring Our Military Heroes.
Feb. 17, 1941, is a date I will long remember. I was drafted and sworn in to the U.S. Army at Ft. Des Moines, Iowa.
I was then sent to Ft. Snelling, Minn., where it was 20 degrees below zero. I was shipped to Warren, Wyo., and assigned to Company G, 20th infantry regiment of the 6th division.
From Warren, we moved to Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., and finally to our permanent base, Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. We dug lots of holes in the ground, slept on the ground, ate out of mess kits and walked many, many miles with full field packs on our backs and M-1 rifles slung over our shoulders.
We made the famous Louisiana Maneuvers of 1941. Our equipment was pitiful. Signs were painted on trucks designating them as tanks. Anti-aircraft guns were made of wood. With things like that we could never have defeated an enemy.
In 1942, I managed a transfer to the Army Air Force Aviation Cadet program. The transfer came through while we were on maneuvers in Tenn. No more sleeping on the ground or making 25-mile hikes or eating out of mess kits.
I was trained as a bombardier and was crewed up on a B-24 Bomber at the new Mountain Home Air Base in Idaho. I flew 32 missions out of England with the 389th bomb group of the 8th Air Force, bombing Nazi-held targets in France and Germany. Our tour completed, we returned to the U.S.
While in B-29 training in Pueblo, Colo., the Japanese War ended, so I returned to Gowen Field for discharge. I was hired out on the Union Pacific Railroad as a brakeman.
In 1951, I was recalled to the U. S. Air Force to train in B-29s for the war in Korea. After my crew was combat-ready, it was discovered that I only had five more months to serve. All crew members had to have at least six months in order to be sent overseas. Our crew disbanded and I returned to the railroad.