Texas South Plains War Stories

Interviews with Veterans from World War II to Afghanistan


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About the Book

Every veteran has a story to tell—often ones they have not told their own families. But as one vet in this collection of original interviews succinctly said of his combat experiences: “Some things are better left unsaid.” Documenting recollections from survivors of World War II, Korea, Vietnam and other conflicts—all residents of the Texas Panhandle—this book presents narratives from men and women whose young lives, for good or ill, were defined by their participation in warfare in service to their country.

About the Author(s)

Larry A. Williams is a U.S. Air Force veteran and a retired purchasing manager. He has written articles for the Army Chapter of the Chosin Few Newsletter, the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, the Lubbock Magazine and the Lubbock Senior Link Magazine. He lives in Lubbock, Texas.

Katherine McLamore has recruited and trained hospice volunteers for over a decade. She has written for the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, Prize 31 Ministries, and the Lubbock Senior Link Magazine. She lives in Lubbock, Texas.

Bibliographic Details

Larry A. Williams and Katherine McLamore

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 334
Bibliographic Info: 50 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8307-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4212-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Preface 1
Introduction: The Cost of Freedom 5

Part I—World War II
1. Alvira Agee: “I Can Do That” 8
2. M.T. Allen: Quonset Hut Expert 10
3. Robert Anderson: Battling on Two Fronts 12
4. Clyde Bearden: “At the Convenience of the Government” 15
5. Stanley J. Bobrowski, Jr.: Son of a Russian Officer 17
6. Bill Boyles: “Straight into Combat” 20
7. James Braxton: A Lifetime of Music 22
8. Roger Britt: “Go, Get ’em!” 24
9. Claude Brown: Life and Death in the Hands of the Parachute Packer 26
10. Lon Colvin: The Liberator Becomes the Prisoner 29
11. Wilma Coon: A Patriotic Calling 32
12. Phil Crenshaw: Finding His Calling 34
13. Robert F. Cummings: Small-Town Navy Veteran 37
14. Jack DuLaney: F4U Fighter Pilot 39
15. Lena Skaggs Duncan: Dedicated to Family and Country 42
16. Garland Ellis: With the 4th Armored Division 45
17. Thomas Esparza: Tank Commander at Age 19 50
18. Orville Fleming: The Million-Dollar Wound 53
19. Robbie Gill: Lucky #13 and the “Miracle Survivor” 55
20. Carl Gilly: Cobb’s War 58
21. Jim Guyton: Dunbar Alum Serves Twice 62
22. Roger Haberer: Normandy, Days after the Invasion 64
23. Bob Hail: Navy Boat Driver Dropped off Marines 66
24. J.W. Hamby: Businessman at an Early Age 68
25. Wallace Haney: A Member of the “Caterpillar Club” 70
26. Ted Hartman: Sherman Tank Driver and Orthopedic Surgeon 73
27. Billy Hendrix: Circling the Globe after World War II 75
28. Ted Hill: P-47 Thunderbolt Pilot 78
29. Charles J. Hoye: Old Newsie Serving with a Pen 81
30. Don Jones: A Life of Service to Country and Community 83
31. Homer Jones: The Long Road Home 86
32. Justin T. Jones: Glider Recovery 89
33. Lamar Jones: Always a Merchant 92
34. R.D. Jones: Sailing the Pacific 94
35. Bob Kiser: Pipeline, Purdue, Petroleum and People Like Us 96
36. Cleatus Lebow: “He Saved My Life Twice” 98
37. George Lewis: Occupied Germany 103
38. Nathan Luger: The Aleutian Islands 105
39. C.B. Martin: Life as a Seabee 107
40. Herschel Martin: One Man, Three Branches of Service 109
41. John McDonough: The Tall Texan 111
42. Gene McLendon: A Good Citizen 113
43. Teddy McMillan: A Hero and a Good Man 115
44. Frank Miller: From a Quartermaster to a Headmaster 117
45. Horace Morgan: From the Alcan to the Battle of the Bulge 120
46. Frank Odom: On the Front Lines in Europe 122
47. Vernon Odom: Helping Those Who Can’t Help Themselves 125
48. Wayne Owen: Smart and Lucky 128
49. R.L. Owens: “Red Arrow Division—First In, Last Out” 130
50. Bill Pasewark: Spreading Freedom’s Message 133
51. Marvin Platten: An Artful Journey 136
52. Leon Pope: From POWs to Paradise 141
53. James Rich: A “Rich Life”—Flirting with Death 144
54. Eugene Roberts: “Hard to Turn Off the Switch” 146
55. Max Robertson: Navy Battles Mother Nature 149
56. Earl Robinson: “The Good Lord Had My Hand” 151
57. James T. Rodewald: “Hot Meals and a Place to Sleep” 153
58. Eldie Scheffel: “The Coldest Winter I Ever Saw” 155
59. Harold Schultze: D-Day Remembered by Former Higgins Boat Driver 157
60. Charles Sears: Blinded by the Light 160
61. J.L. Slaughter: A Final Mission 162
62. Clifford Solomon: “God Bless America” 166
63. Elmer Tarbox: Texas Tech All-American 171
64. Dominic Tartaglione: Survivor of Three “Wars” 173
65. Pat Thurman: Twice as Lucky during Two Wars 175
66. Truett Tyler: Following His Brothers 177
67. Ed Ward: “If You’re Not Scared, You’re Lying” 179
68. Wayne Webb: Three Years on the Water 181
69. Gene Williams: A World Traveler 184
70. Robert Elton Wilson: “The Good Lord Was Always with Me” 186
71. Andy Winnegar: Naval Aviator Receives the Distinguished Flying Cross 189

Part II—Korea
72. Paul Archinal: From Airman to Admiral 198
73. William Bridge: Korean War Vet Makes a Difference 201
74. James Cathey: The Ghosts of the Korean War 204
75. Jerold Dyess: A Sixteen Year Old Sees the World 207
76. Clyde Fisher: “Finish What I Start” 209
77. Alton Garner: Witness to History 211
78. Gordon Hambright: Naval Postmaster Wins “Best Beard Growing Contest” 214
79. Fred Harvey: “Growing Up” on the USS Hornet 216
80. Rodney Manning: From a Policeman to a Preacher 218
81. Cleveland McMillan: Cooking Under Fire 221
82. Gordon Musick: Near the Front Lines in Korea 223
83. Asa Oliver: From Family Farm to Foreign Field to Faithful Follower 226
84. Billy Rudd: A Case of Mistaken Identity 228
85. Curtis Ruff: It Just Wasn’t His Day 230
86. Welby Smith: Crew Chief to Two of the Air Force’s Fastest Bombers 234
87. Lawrence Walker: Triple “Service” for Lubbock Man 236
88. Fred Watson: Faith Helps Him through Korean War Memories 238
89. Charles Williams: Coming Home 240

Part III—Vietnam War
90. George Bradley: “Follow Your Dreams” 246
91. Charles Brimberry: Danger Was Everywhere in Vietnam 248
92. Doug Foster: The Healing Wall 251
93. Jannie Greenway: Around the World and Back 255
94. Charles Hankson: BBQ and a Slice of Sunshine 258
95. Bernhard T. Mittemeyer: A Lifetime of Service to His Adopted Country 260
96. Charles Scarborough: “Recycled for a Reason” 264

Part IV—Additional Stories
97. Various Veterans: “Geezers” Reunite 270
98. Chad and Renee Gross: A Simple Song about a Soldier 273
99. Gary Harber: Lubbock’s Southern Brigadier General 276
100. Gordon Musick and Ernest Sears: Two Love Stories from the Texas South Plains Honor Flight 279
101. Frances Pierce: Gold Star Wife and Widow 281
102. Opal Roberts: Living Intentionally 284
103. Wayne Shawn and Justin Jones: Flight into Yesteryear 286
104. Michael Vasquez: From Combat Casualty to Veteran Advocate 289

Veterans’ Honor Roll 293
Bibliography 295
Index 299

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Searing, inspiring, and immensely readable…this is oral history at its finest. Texas South Plains War Stories goes far in answering the first obligation we all owe our combat veterans—which is, simply, to remember.”—Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and On Desperate Ground

• “Superbly researched and splendidly written, Texas South Plains War Stories is a stirring tribute to the men and women who have risen to the challenge of serving in America’s armed forces in times of war. Larry Williams and Katherine McLamore have done us a great service by vividly capturing the memories, service and sacrifice of ordinary citizens who have answered the call of duty. This outstanding book is also a poignant reminder that our freedom comes at a high price that heroic Americans have paid in blood since our founding.”—Carlo D’Este, author of Patton: A Genius for War

• “Larry Williams and Katherine McLamore have assembled more than the notes and reminiscences of a scattering of men who fought for their country. This book is the heart of our collective conscience, the stories we must know, and those we must pass on to the future. The accounts in this marvelous book come from so many who are no longer here, who can no longer tell their stories. For the men included here from a more recent age, their stories ring no less true, and are no less important. Their day will come as well, and again, we must remember. This is a marvelous book.”—Jeff Shaara, author of Gods and Generals and To Wake the Giant

• “With their new book, Texas South Plains War Stories: Interviews with Veterans from World War II to Afghanistan, Larry A. Williams and Katherine McLamore have given us a rare look into the lives of our nation’s military, brave individuals who have offered their lives to secure and maintain our country’s freedom. These stories must be told, educating future generations, and reminding current generations of the high cost of the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. Williams and McLamore have interviewed countless individuals from several wars, detailing their personal stories, and preserving their memories in book form. In doing so, the authors have given us the opportunity to express our gratitude, to acknowledge these heroes’ selfless contributions, and to know these brave men and women personally and individually before their stories are forever silenced.”—Denise George, author of The Lost Eleven: The Forgotten Story of Black American Soldiers Brutally Massacred in WWII, with Robert Child

• “As we lose more and more veterans from the Greatest Generation, it becomes critical that we recover and record for posterity the deeds and sacrifices they made for our freedom. This book goes a long way to doing that. Bravo!”—Larry Loftis, international bestselling author of CODE NAME: LISE and Into the Lion’s Mouth

• “Texas South Plains War Stories is a valuable collection of stories from our veterans. Williams and McLamore have done a stellar job of recording these memories so that we all can learn from the experiences of men and women who went to war.”—Gregory A. Freeman, author of The Forgotten 500