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Old Hickory Recon, Memories of the 30th Infantry Division 1943-1945 - Marion M. Sanford

Discussion in 'Honor, Service and Valor' started by Old Hickory, Apr 17, 2009.

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  1. Old Hickory

    Old Hickory WWII Veteran

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    Posted for Old Hickory by Slipdigit:

    After the meeting and the celebration was over with the Russians at Magdeburg, Old Hickory Division as moved to the city of Ottersleben. I believe that there are two cities by that name – a big on and little Ottersleben. Our division went to the little city, which was a small town in the farming area of Germany [southwest of Magdeburg].

    At this time, the division was in the Army of Occupation. The Recon was given the job of cleaning the grass and weeds from the sugar beet fields. There were not any young German men around to do it. Old men and women and children were the only people there. The women and children got down on their hands and knees and pulled the grass and weeds from the sugar beets. Then they brought in the tractors and plowed the fields.


    We were told that we could not fraternize with the Germans. That was a big joke! We had to communicate with them to get the job done. I believe, in fact I know, that there was some fraternizing going on. This was a fun time for the Recon-we had plenty to eat, the German girls were pretty, we had a nice river to swim in and the river had a lot of fish in it. We’d go down there with a quarter pound of TNT, put a fuse in it and throw it in the water. When it exploded, we kill the fish. While we were there we had several big fish fries.

    Around the first of June in 1945, the Recon moved to the border of Czechoslovakia where we did scouting and patrolling. We had orders that if we saw a German soldier in an SS uniform, we were to bring him in. We didn’t see any SS uniforms, but we did find an American in a jeep there who was AWOL and we brought both in. The sent him back to his outfit.

    We found out about this time that Old Hickory had been designated for redeployment in the Pacific. We would go through the United States, have a month of leave then get ready to go. We were told that we would be in on the invasion of Japan.

    If you had 85 points, you could go home them-be out of the army. Most of them that went home did have 85 points. I had 83. We remained in the area until the 10th of July. Then we moved to Camp Oklahoma, Rheims, France. I believe that Frances Curry was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor while we were there.

    Many of the men went on leave to Paris or Brussels and some went to London. I took 30 men to Rheims on afternoon. You know how young me are. We had not been there long when a fight broke out in on e of the restaurants. My brother’s outfit had been made into an MP unit. They came and took us to the stockade.


    The next day, a lieutenant and my brother came in and talked to me. The lieut. asked me how long we were going to be there. I told him that I didn’t think very long, but I wasn’t sure when we would leave. He told me that if I would take this crowd back and promise not to come back and bring them anymore, then we could go back to the camp. I told them that I wouldn’t come or bring anyone back, but I couldn’t tell him that someone would not comeback [without me]. My brother still kids me about having to put me in jail. Someone asked me a while back, “What’d you do to him for putting you in jail?” I said, “I didn’t do anything. I’d have done the same thing to him if he’d been in my place and I’d been in his.”
     
  2. Filthy13

    Filthy13 recruit

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    Any more history in Septembre in Belgium for 30th Recon troop ?
     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    There will be. He is in the midst of getting a book written.

    Is there anything specific you are wanting to know?
     
  4. 980th

    980th Member

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    Thank you for posting Old Hickory's story. What a great generation they were! So sad that we are losing so many.
     
  5. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I am working on a book about him now. The above has proven to be a very abbreviated story of his time in the 30th ID.

    As we get to talking, he remembers things not mentioned above. Some are funny, some are deadly serious. He doesn't like to talk too much about his friends who were killed, but he is slowly mentioning details about them.

    I hope to have it ready by this time next year. We're almost through with the war and will talk some about the post war period. He has some interesting insight on what helped him get back into normal society.
     
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  6. 980th

    980th Member

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    I look forward to the book. Keep me posted on your progress.
     
  7. Fgrun83

    Fgrun83 Member

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    Slipdigit-It's fantastic to see Old Hickory's story still evolving. I've been away for a while but its great to see, and also am very pleased to hear you are writing a book about his time in the service and thereafter.
     
  8. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    We're about to leave to go to Old Hickory's 90th birthday party.

    He's been looking forward to it, we're going to have a great time.
     
  9. IBBARR

    IBBARR Member

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    Have a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! OLD HICKORY! God Bless You!
     
  10. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    The book is coming along. The first draft is about 80% complete and is well over 200 pages. I'm trying to have the first draft ready by the end of the month, so I can then start revisions. I could probably stop after another chapter or two, but there is much in his later life that I want to include.
     
    TD-Tommy776 likes this.
  11. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    Slip,
    Sounds like a good history. Thanks for the direction.

    See if Old Hickory saw or heard of any of the persecutions that the Czechs perpetrated v. Germans, Bohemians, Slovenians or Istrians among others?

    Did he run into any members of the Red Army and what were his impressions?

    Thanks
     
  12. 36thID

    36thID Member

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    My 2 favorites are Old Hickory and Sapper....
     
  13. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    He did not mention it all when we talked about it. He said the nationalities stayed together, but that he could usually differentiate between the Germans and others. They looked healthier and their clothing was better.
    Yes. He was in Magdeburg when a motorized infantry unit showed up in late April and he was there for about a week. To be honest with you, he did not like them at all. One of the main things that bothered him was their lack of firearm discipline. He said they were always shooting their personal weapons at anything, especially light bulbs. He said they shot out nearly every street light there the first night they arrived. They were having parties just about every night that he was there and before the night was over, they would have their weapons out shooting all over the place, inside buildings and out.

    He related one incident where a small group of soldiers caught a German family hiding food in box in the ground. They had lined the entire family up and was about to shoot them, when Old Hickory and men from his platoon intervened. There was a tense stand-off as the US soldiers sought to protect the family from execution. The Russians backed down, but he wondered if they came back later and killed the family anyway.

    He added, though, that he did not doubt their ability to fight.
     
  14. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    That is pretty much how I imagined things went. And even much worse, the Soviets had many scores to settle and taking the high road is so hard when one's countrymen and family have been abused for so long. Thank you for the information, Slip!
     
  15. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    A well deserved salute for you, Slipdigit. You have done a great job in being Old Hickory's voice here on the forum. Now you are also writing a book on his story. I am very impressed. You are doing a great work to preserve the story and memory of this great veteran. Thank you!
     
  16. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Thanks RKline and TD-Tommy. I talked to him briefly this morning at church. He is excited that I have got as far along as I have. I told him that I still had a lot of work to do, rewriting parts and correct all the errors. Regardless, I am happy to have something down on paper.
     
  17. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    The first draft is finished. I am knee-deep in the first rewrite and making good progress.
     
  18. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Sounds exciting. I saw the early part, now I am anxious to see the rest of the product.
     
  19. Jumpmastereast

    Jumpmastereast Member

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    Look forward to reading what you have written about the Old Hickory Division.
     
  20. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Can't wait Jeff, you are doing a hell of a job there
     

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