Eastland  County  Veterans
Eastland, Texas

Veterans  Interviews
 

Jack Leonard Lyerla, Pfc,  World War II
Flatwood, Texas
     
Jack Lyerla was drafted when he became eighteen years old but he was allowed to finished high school in 1945. He reported to service in Houston in June of that year. Jack was sent to Fort Bliss in El Paso to begin his basic training and finished up the training at Fort Riley in Kansas. Since World War II had ended, Jack never did go overseas. After a few month in the U.S. Army, he decided he wanted to send $30 back home to build a savings account. In order to do this, he needed a middle name. He chose Leonard because that was the name of a rancher in New Mexico that he had worked for the prior summer. Leonard had been a real influence on Jack while he worked there on the ranch. He wrote his dad and ask him to get him a new birth certificate with Leonard as his middle name. After the time in Kansas, Jack was shipped to Fort Ord in California by November. Later he was sent to Camp Bowie where his job was typing all day. He typed Court Martial reports of soldiers at the base. Jack entered the service as a Buck Private and left as a Private First Class (Pfc). He was discharged in September 1946 at Camp Hood, now known as Fort Hood. He served fifteen months.
Interviewed 8/19/2003 By  Webb Jordan


Walter Leonard Tucker, Cpl. World War II, POW
Eastland, Texas
     
Walter enlisted in the Army in March of 1941. He was in the 26th Calvary.  He had nine months of combat and then was captured and placed in a POW camp. When he reached Camp Nichols, Cherry Blossom was in charge. White Angel was already gone, the previous Jap commander in charge. The Wolf (El Lobo) was in charge of the work detail. There were about 700 men there and I was placed on the new side.
      We were put in work details of three. It was about December 1943 an Italian fellow was helping us by repairing our mine car. He became very ill with a high fever, out of his head and he stop working. Three of us carried his load but the Japs beat him severely. After we marched 4 Ĺ miles back to camp, we were forced to stand in formation while the Japs gave the Italian the water treatment. (Water is forced into the body and then they jumped on his stomach). He died that night and our doctor was forced to sign death certificate as death by malaria. Doc (Doc Haines told the Japs that the man was out of his mind.) The Japs pistol whipped him and another Dr. (Major) when he tried to help Doc Haines. They broke Doc Hainesí glasses and broke the Majorís jaw. Our work days were usually 14 - 16 hours long.
      On another occasion in the spring of 1944, we were marching in from work (672 men) in columns of four came to an intersection where a car was waiting to cross. Lieutenant Campbell was marching us, stuck his arm in front of me and three other guys and hollered "Halt". We stopped and the car went through. It happened to be the Filipinos and this angered the "Wolf". The Wolf wanted to know who the four men were that stopped and let the car pass. Lt. Campbell pointed us out and never told the Wolf that he had ordered us to halt. The three Jap Guards took turns beating us. I was beat until I could not see but by the Grace of God I never went down. (Falling down was a DEATH SENTENCE. I donít guess my jaw was broken but inside my mouth was like raw meat and I had problems eating for a while.
      A guy named White I knew at Nichols Camp had his foot broken shortly after we arrived. He was a boxer, did not have to work and fortunately did not lose much weight. He later came to my rescue when a Sgt. Reynolds from New Mexico beat me up over a rice ration. When White heard about the beating, he threatened Reynolds and told him if he ever laid a hand on another POW, he would never hit anyone else.
      In May 1944 I got malaria and had bad chills and no sleep. Went on morning sick call, was very weak but temperature was normal. The doctor said I would have to report for work duty. I knew that it would be a death sentence if I went to work and could not stay on my feet all day. I got down on my knees and cried like a baby and the Doc sent someone else but he said he thought I was lying. While in formation I passed out and the Doc (Doc Haines) came and apologized. Not much of an incident to anyone else but was an awful close call for me.
      The Wolf (El Lobo) was a large Jap. He probably would weigh 165-170 pounds, about 50 - 60 years old and had a mustache. He was a real Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde. Very friendly and gentle acting until he got mad and then he was a raving Devil and real Sadist.
      The interpreter was a slender Filipino-Jap and really a lot of help to us. He talked mean but was really o.k. I donít remember his name.
      The work was hard and we were barefoot a lot of the time. With the long days, we got off two days a month but we were not allowed to sit down on those days. We would sit down and post a look-out. When we saw a guard we would all be standing.
      The food was terrible: sea weed, some vegetables, rice, fish and fish heads. Each room had a Nechoko. They worked three days and off one to look after the Camp. With this schedule they did not lose weight like we did. So they could get tough if they wanted too. Reynolds is the only one I knew to get tough and White settled him down.
      Another incident happened on one of our days off. Callie and another P.O.W. got into an argument over a Mess Kit. After a while Callie hit the other man on the chin and he fell and was dead. I canít remember his name but the Japs took Callie away the next day.
      Most of the time I spent at Nichols, our uniform was a G-string and straw hat. For six months I never had a pair of shoes or a pair of pants. With the ration of food they fed us we could not survive. We ate field mice, banana peels, frogs, snakes, tree leaves and any thing we could got hold of that was chewable.
      Large burial detail consisted of about 100 men. They leveled a 25 foot grade by hand with picks and shovels. They would buried forty P.O.W. bodies in each grave.
      We were shipped to Japan in a cattle ship with little water, little air, tight quarters and a wooden bucket for a bath room. Worked there in a nickel surface mine in six foot of snow. Had pneumonia and lice to deal with. The war ended August 15. Bombed daily by U.S. with food, candy & etc. Gained 70 pounds in 70 days. (126 to 196)  These experiences were buried into my mind for a lifetime of nightmares.
It was good to be back home.
This was taken from some personal notes that Walter Tucker had made back in 1987.   9/6/2003 WJ


George B. Hull, Sgt.  World War II
Eastland, Texas      By Vance O'Brien
8 Discharges, 7 Commendations - Unique Record For County Vet
     
Not many World War II veterans have been able to remain in the Eastland area, and precious few  there are any-where with eight honorable discharges and seven certificates of special training or commendation.
      George B. Hull, a native of Eastland County has that distinction from his twenty-four years of Army and National Guard experience.
      A native of the Mitchell community, southwest of  Cisco, Hull went to school in Scranton.
      He went into service on the 12th of September, 1942 at Fort Walters in Mineral Wells. He stayed there for a week, after which he was sent to Oregon for basic training (taking a five day train ride to get there).  From Oregon he went to Newport, Rhode Island, for a sixteen week school on aero-torpedoes, with 200 other Army recruits, in a Navy School, graduating as a torpedo mechanic.
      He then went to California to Santa Maria for training in the Mojave Desert, getting ready for over sea's duty. He later went to Camp Kilmer in New Jersey for final training and debarkation.
      Hull then shipped out to England, leaving on Oct. 18th, 1943, arriving ten days later in Liverpool. From there he went  to a small-country town, where he stayed for three years. He was part of a unit which was operating an Army Ammunition Arsenal. This company held key ammo which was shipped out from the United States, loaded onto transport trucks and transported to ammunition areas.  The ammo was dispatched to transport trucks going to different airport bases.
      Hull left the ammunition arsenal in 1946 and was discharged, only to re-enlist. He came home on a 90 day leave, then went to San Antonio for about three weeks. Hull then went up to Grand Island, Nebraska for about eight months. From there he went to Roswell, N.M., Army Air Field, and stayed for about eight months. He was then discharged again and stayed out of the service until 1949.
       In 1949, Hull re-enlisted (a three year enlistment into the National Guard into the 49th Armor Division and stayed in for 16 years. The National Guard unit was headquartered in Dallas. There were five companies in Hull's battalion. During these years he made summer camps in Fort Hood during the Korean War.
      In the Cisco Unit, He was under Lieutenant Colonel Frank Sayre, now of Eastland. Hull's company mobilized for  war in 1961, going to Fort Polk, LA., for a year during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After the company got combat ready in about eight months time, Hull and his fellow Guard members suspected they would go to Germany, until 1962 when the crisis was over.
      Between his re-enlistment and final  discharge, Hull had five re-enlistments with the National Guard.  9/24/2003


Wade F. Beall, F2C Navy,  World War II
Eastland, Texas
     
Wade was assigned to a ship called the USS Ruben James. The original ship by that same name was the first ship lost in World War I. He said it was one of the escort ships for supply convoy headed for the Mediterranean Sea. They had a crew of a hundred and sixty sailors. There were as many as a hundred commercial ships carrying all kind of supplies, soldiers, equipment and ammunition. This Naval Ship would navigate along the outer edges of the convoy looking for German Subs. They were using sonar listening for any unidentified sounds below. Luckily there were no mines in these waters. The biggest challenge was warding off the German aircraft that would attack each morning about 2:30 AM and continue their bombing and strafing until sunrise. In the aircraft attacks in the Mediterranean, they shot down one of the German planes.
     Early in the trip they were able to sink a German Sub about 175 miles off the coast from New York City. When they would locate an enemy submarine, it was time to launch several depth charges, about the size of a fifty-five gallon barrel.
     On another convoy they were in the area of the Rock of Gibraltar and on down to a southern port in Africa. At one point there the British would fire across their bow because they had the bigger guns on their ship. Wade said you could hear those shells bussing through the air above their ship. They would refuel in Newfoundland before turning back South.
     Side Note:  Wade Beall later served as a Federal Marshall.  Some of  his duties were:  Escort Robert Kennedy's children to school,  work in Selma, Alabama during the segregation problem days  and serve papers to the Sharpstown Bank in Texas when it was closed down.   9/16/03 WJ 


Jesse H. Reynolds Jr. Pfc  -  Army  -  World War II
Cisco,  Texas

    My name is Jesse H. Reynolds Jr. I was born in Gorman Texas, April 14, 1921 but my family moved to Cisco when I was only six months old. When World War II started I was working in my family trucking business The Cisco Transfer & Storage Co.  I was drafted on July 3, 1942.
 

   I spent nearly a year and a half in Colorado Springs, Colorado in the Infantry. Then I spent three months in Louisiana on maneuvers and three more in California. I went from there on a troop train to Baltimore, Maryland. We shipped out of New York and went on a liberty ship. It took three weeks to get to South Hampton, England. We went in a convoy and the convoy would zig zag to keep from getting hit by submarines. I was in England when the first day of the invasion started June 6.  It was three or four weeks before we landed on Omaha Beach in the middle of the night. There was not any shooting but it was a mess and it was clear that there had been a terrible battle. We then walked  three or  four miles to  St. Lo. From then on we were in combat.

 

       I dug my foxhole in the graveyard beside an old toilet. The next morning we went about a mile and we were hid behind a hedgerow. The platoon Sergeant told me that I was 2nd scout and an older man by the name of Mike was 1st scout. I was looking over the hedgerow and there was a clearing going for about a ľ of a mile and then there was a kind of creek. I could see some people walking around down there.
     
Mike started walking that way and I let him get out about 200 feet then I started. I got about 50 feet and bullets started flying all around us. I hit the ground and lay there. I heard Mike run by me and I jumped up and ran back also. When I got back behind the hedge row Mike had a bullet hole all the way through his helmet and he was going to pieces and shaking all over. So the Sergeant said Reynolds you are now 1st scout. I told Sarg ďno wayĒ, but that did not help.
      I took off along the side of the hedgerow instead of going over it. I went about 600 yards and came to a sunken road. I went down it for about ľ of a mile and there was a clearing with some high ground or a hill. It was Hill 122, which was our objective. It had a pillbox and they were firing machine guns. We got to it and threw some grenades in it and one of our men had a flamethrower.  He used it on them. We lost several people in this fight. We went into St. Lo fighting. At one time we were about 1,000 feet from Notre Dame Church. It had been bombed and artillery so much the only thing left was the church cross. In fact the whole town was nearly flat.
     At one time we were cut off for 3 or 4 days in a peach orchard. We ate peaches nearly all this time because they could not bring us food. I still donít care too much for peaches.
    I was wounded but patched up and sent back in.  It had been nearly 11 months since we came ashore in Normandy. We had slept in foxholes in all kinds of weather. Sometimes it was hot in summertime and sometimes it was very cold. Sometimes the snow was at least a foot deep.
     Nearly every day during all this time, we were shot at by artillery or bombed by aircraft. A lot of the boys went crazy. I donít know how we all kept from going nuts. I know that nearly everyone that I have talked to even now after 55 years still has nightmares.
     Finally we got orders to go home. We got on the Queen Mary on September 5th and we arrived in New York on September 10, 1945. The Statue of Liberty was about the prettiest thing I believe I had ever seen. I was so glad to be back to the U.S.

    This is from some of the writings that my father made upon request from his grandchildren so that they would know more about the things that their "Papa" went through during the War. He saw combat in France, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg.  Five Campaigns in all." Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, Central Europe". He received numerous medals including EAME Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge and five Bronze stars. He was also one of eight Eastland county soldiers who received the Jubilee of Liberty Medal from the People of France on August 27, 1997 in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, which he was very proud to receive.  He died January 6, 2002.          Sandra Reynolds Hill   11/14/03
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
 

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