Ronald Morris, US Army 1945-1946
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I’m Ronald Morris, I’m from Mt. Vernon, Missouri. I have a farm out on the western edge of town. I was in the US Army 1945 to 1946. I was trained for occupation in Germany. They got too many so they put me to … I took care of German prisoners in two different camps here in the United States and I also worked in helping discharge the veterans. There were 16 and a half million people in the military and about 95% of them had to be discharged, separated in other words, and it was quite a job. I would board a train sometimes and bring them back from the west coast and bring them to camp out of Barry, Indiana and Fort Knox, Kentucky for separation.
The German prisoners could speak english as well as me, if not better. They were real young and extremely healthy and strong. They had start training when they were 12 years old, and they went in the Army when they were 16. They were captured about that time, nearly all paratroopers.
I tried to join the Navy when I got out of the high school here in Mt. Vernon, and we graduated on Friday night and Monday I tried to join but I was turned down. Then I was called up for the draft in November of ‘44 and I was turned down for physical reasons and then I went to work for Pratt and Whitney Aircraft in Kansas City, Missouri building 2800 horsepower Wasp engines. There were no jets then, it was all propeller planes.
Anyway, I was called up for another physical and I told my mother I was gonna pass or else. I had four red marks against me, but this doctor at the end of the line said there’s no way you could ever go through basic training. I said, “I will if you’ll let me.” He said, “You little dried up SOB, you’ll never make it.” But I never went on sick call all the time I was in the Army. So I got along real good.
It was just a lot of people in the military. It was unreal, you know. I guess it’d be probably be 20 times what there are now. The ones coming back from Pacific, of course, they were really wanting out, you know? So, these boys from … They were just like me, real young, from Germany. They didn’t give us any problems at all, you know. They didn’t have anything to go back to, you know. So, anyway, I don’t know what happened to them. But Germany now is just fine, you know.
It made me see that I could do something if I wanted to bad enough. In other words, I got along just fine. It actually probably helped, you know.