Heroes: the Army
"...Jessie's knowledge of these subjects was derived from extensive, continued research. Each payday he was first in line for a pass and usually he managed to be on the first bus to town..."
Glenn W. Fisher
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. C., 405th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942-1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Hanibal, MS
by Glenn Fisher - 405-C
In the most authoritative voice a nineteen-year old private could command, I ordered "COLUMN RIGHT -- MARCH." Jessie made a sloppy right turn and headed toward the mess hall.
"Glenn, don't you feel silly carrying that big ole pistol? You wouldn't shoot me, would you? You know I'm not going to run away. That would get you in trouble, and I never do anything to get my buddies in trouble."
Jessie had been a Texas oil field roughneck. He spoke softly, had a ready smile, and before the Army gave him a regulation haircut, probably had a head of curly blond hair. He was likable, bright, and energetic, but he disdained authority, especially when it was used to enforce the endless rounds of chicken shit orders and regulations that were part of our training as infantrymen. When we were ordered to line up or get on our hands and knees to police the area, he would delay until a sergeant singled him out by name. Then he would sneer at the noncom and comply with just enough speed to avoid being charged with insubordination.
Jessie loved to tell stories, especially steamy stories giving the less experienced of us vivid descriptions of the joys of sex, with a few words about the joys of liquor thrown in. Jessie's knowledge of these subjects was derived from extensive, continued research. Each payday he was first in line for a pass and usually he managed to be on the first bus to town.
Unfortunately, even the meager pay of a private would buy more joy than Jessie could consume in the short weekends we were allowed. One Monday, he returned late and the military police took him into custody at the gate. At a summary court martial, he was convicted of being AWOL and sentenced to a few days in the battalion stockade.
The battalion stockade was a slightly modified barracks down the street from the company barracks. There were no cooking of eating facilities so each company was required to send someone to bring its prisoners to the company mess hall for meals. Today, I had been unlucky enough to draw this duty. I reported to the company ororderly room, checked out a .45, checked out ammunition, and loaded the pistol.
A bored noncom read me detailed instruction about handling an escape attempt but nothing was said about unmilitary bearing or sloppy right turns. I ignored them and tried to forget what an absurd little parade we were. Jessie was right. I felt silly
I forgot about Jessie until I read the division history. There in a list of those honored for bravery in battle, I came across his name and quotations from his citation for a Silver Star medal. "Assumed command of his platoon...led them forward through intense fire... with skill and daring."
Jessie, the hero! Actually I found it easy to imagine. I pictured how it might have occurred. "Joe, you take the first squad to the left. Jack, keep your squad here and cover us with fire. Keep their fucking heads down. The rest of you stay with me. When I throw a grenade, we'll rush the SOBs."
I imagined how it would look in a movie. As Jessie rushes forward, the camera moves in to show Jessie sneering at the enemy. He would look remarkably like the way he looked at noncoms when they told him to pick up cigarette butts.
One thing bothered me. In the company roster he is listed as a Tech. Sergeant. I can imagine Jessie leading a platoon against the enemy I can imagine him wiping out a machine gun nest with a single grenade, but I find it very difficult to imagine him managing a platoon. Would he order another Gl to pick up cigarette butts or discipline one of his men for spending too much time on the joys of sex and liquor? Not the Jessie I knew.
This article is part of a book Glenn has written: "Not to Reason Why: The Story of a One-eyed Infantryman in WWII."
----- Glenn W. Fisher
(Editor's note: Attempts were made throughout the text of the following story to place full names to the men listed in the story. For the most part, this is an educated guess and some names may very well be mistaken in their identy. The names were all taken from the division history book: With The 102d Infantry Division Through Germany, edited by Major Allen H. Mick. Using the text as a guide, associations with specific units were the basis for the name identifications. We are not attempting in any to rewrite the story. Any corrections are gladly welcomed.)
Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...
United States Army, 102nd Infantry Division
102 Infantry Division
History of the 102nd Infantry Division
Attack on Linnich, Flossdorf, Rurdorf - 29 Nov -- 4 Dec 1944
Gardelegen War Crime
Gardelegen: April 13, 1945:
Massacre at the Isenschnibbe Barn
American Battle Monuments Commission: WWII Honor Roll
National World War II Memorial
The above story, "Jessie", by Glenn Fisher, Co. C, 405th, was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 54, No. 4, July/Sept., 2002, pp. 17-18.
The story is re-printed here on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words with the kind permission of the 102d Infantry Division Association, Ms. Hope Emerich, Historian. Our sincerest THANKS for the 102d Infantry Division Association allowing us to share some of their stories.
We would also like to extend our sincere THANKS to Mr. Edward L. Souder, former historian of Co. F., 405th Regiment. His collection of stories of the "Kitchen Histories Project" series entitled, Those Damn Doggies in F, were responsible for bringing the stories of the men of the 102nd Division to the forefront.
Original Story submitted on 25 March 2005.
Story added to website on 26 March 2005.
September 5, 2002.
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