Editor's note: Glenn Stanley shared the following story with his wife, Diana, before his death earlier this year.
“After completing one semester at the University of Arizona, my draft number was drawn. March of ’43, at the age of 19, I left by train bound for San Pedro, Calif. where all Arizona draftees reported. After my induction I was sent to Ft. Riley, Kan., a cavalry post. All UoA ROTC reservists reported there because our ROTC was a cavalry unit. Next came basic training in the mechanized cavalry.
“I desperately wanted to become a pilot in the Army Air Force. My application was accepted and I was sent to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. Alas, the blood pressure test was my demise, and my dream of being a pilot was never fulfilled. So the Army kept me in the Air Force and put me through basic training again. After graduation I was sent to Truax Field, Madison, Wis., for radio training, but at least I was in the Air Force. The dits and dots of the Morse code were a challenge, however. I never could pass the 26 words per minute exam — thank goodness!
“I never had a pass to go home and soon was headed overseas. My dad came to see me for one night at Truax Field before I was shipped out, heading first for an assembly point in New Jersey. I didn’t see my family from March ’43 until returning from the war two years and nine months later.
“I arrived in England where I was assigned to the 379th Bomb Group Headquarters Squadron at Kimbolton, about 45 miles out of London, as a mail clerk.
“I saw the same drama at that airfield nearly every day. There were around 15 B-17 bombers at our field. Every day when flying weather was good the bombers took off. The first ones off circled overhead until the various bomb groups gathered into their formation to fly to targets in Germany. When they returned, any planes with wounded aboard would fire a flare. They landed first and were met by ambulances. Several of our bombers never made it back.
“The planes from the 379th participated in D-Day. We knew it was D-Day early on because of all of the activity. The word spread quickly.
“The army needed ground troops to replace troops lost during the first months of the invasion of Europe and in the Battle of the Bulge. I was sent to Salisbury Plains – once again for basic training — this time in the infantry. From there I was assigned to A Company of the 352nd Regiment of the 90th Division of General Patton’s 3rd Army. I saw action in France and Germany as a 60mm mortar gunner. When the war ended my unit was a part of the army occupation in Czechoslovakia — and I finally made corporal.
“To be discharged from the Army, each soldier had to accumulate a certain number of points. Because I was in an Air Force unit that participated in D-Day, my point count was high, and I was among the first to ship home just before Christmas, 1945. Waddell, Ariz., was a most welcome sight after almost three years.”
This article originally appeared in Roadrunner Extra!, the resident newsletter of Beatitudes Campus.