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Friends & Neighbors: WWII Veteran Ron Scott tells tales of time spent serving in the US Army

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ron Scott laughs as he tells stories from his time overseas on Monday, Nov. 19.
(Kelsey Alumbaugh/Democrat-News)
Ron Scott, of rural Saline County, enlisted in the Army in November of 1942. After training, he was placed in the signal corps.

Scott was first deployed to Oran, North Africa, in 1943. Two weeks later he as transferred to Casablanca where he joined the signal company.

"I spent most of my time overseeing the unloading of ships with signal supplies at the docks in Casablanca," Scott said. "What I liked about it was instead of eating my C-rations ... I wore my khaki pants and white t-shirt and got me a sailor's cap and went on with the crew of the ship in their mess hall."

Ron Scott in uniform.
(Contributed image)
Scott mentioned they never asked whether he was Army or Navy.

"The desert was just like Iraq, nothing but desert and sand," he said. "When we'd go on guard duty, we'd put our packs on, but we didn't have clothes or supplies in them. We'd put planks or boards cut to about eight inches that would fit in their across our backs."

Scott explained they did this because the natives would hide out in the desert brush and jump out to stab soldiers in the back. The boards were worn to keep them safe.

Pictured is a German truck like Ron Scott drove in WWII. It is not the truck Scott drove, but he said when American drivers were in the German trucks they would paint a star with a circle around it on top so the Air Force could know they were American.
(Contributed image)
After some time on an English freighter, Scott and his company landed in Naples, Italy.

"The docks had all been bombed out and there was no place for a ship to dock," he said. "They lined up a bunch of boats and put boards down where we could get off our ship, go down the gangplank and walk off on these boards, which was quite the distance to the dock."

Scott said when they made it to the dock the smell was horrible.

"They had bombed the main buildings and there were still bodies inside," he said.

Signs had been put up and the soldiers had been warned not to touch or take anything from inside the buildings because things had been booby-trapped.

"Our mess sergeant, I don't know what he found, but he was in there looking around and all of the sudden we heard an explosion and here he came crawling out," Scott said. "I heard he lost his hand."

Scott said they set up their base in an enclosed area and supplied the military in all of southern Italy with radios and phones.

"There was a B17 base over at Foggia, which wasn't very far from there," Scott wrote in a recount of his time in the Army. "A friend of mine who was a neighbor of ours (from back home) was a radioman on a B17 and he'd get to come over every once in awhile to pick up supplies and I got to see him for a few minutes when he came, which was pretty good for us."

Also in Scott's written account is a tale about the 4th of July in 1944. A German disc jockey by the name of Axis Sally said "I understand that you GIs have big fireworks and really enjoy the 4th of July," and if they liked that the Germans would have a nice 4th of July for them.

"Sure enough, that night we had air raids all over the place," he stated in his report of the events.

Scott was transferred to 88 Division and Cannon Company after completing some more training in the fall of 1944.

He was supposed to string wires up to the front and be an observation post to tell the cannons where to fire, but they were moving so fast that didn't have to.

Then, there was a call for truck drivers.

"Here I was, fixing a blister on my foot, and I didn't even put a shoe on," he wrote. "I just ran across the stubble field barefooted to get to be second in line to get to drive."

He drove a German truck with a star inside a circle painted on top "so the Air Force would know it was an American driver," he said.

As a driver, Scott hauled ammunition and gas to the front and prisoners of war back to the back line.

Once the war was over, Scott was stationed as a guard at a camp where 2,500 women who had been POWs were liberated.

Scott said during the day they would be interviewed and then put on convoys or trains to be sent home.

The day before Scott was set to ship out there was supposed to be a program with entertainment for the GIs.

"They let us have beer, but it was 3.2 beer," Scott said with a chuckle. "We heard hollering and this one GI jumped up and held up a newspaper. The whole front page said 'Japan Surrenders!"

After that, the program was cancelled and the beer ran out quickly, Scott said.

In just a few days, Scott was sent back to America. In October of 1945 he was discharged from the Army and joined the National Guard, which he was discharged from in 1951.

To hear more of Scott's stories, go to http://www.marshallnews.com/story/166398...

Contact Kelsey Alumbaugh at kalumbaugh@marshallnew.com

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