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The 808th Tank Destroyer Battalion

invites you to enjoy this site while learning about WWII and tank destroyers

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Memories - 4

Roy Jarvis

would never talk much about his experiences while in the Army.

One of my uncles said Dad's unit had a rough time during the war and that was why Dad wouldn't talk about it. I do know that Dad's unit was one of those sent to relieve the men trapped by the Germans in what was called "The Battle of the Bulge".

I encouraged him though by asking him to tell me about the amusing or funny things that happened while in the Army. This seemed to break the ice and I'm really glad I was able to help him share some of his military experiences that weren't bad. I remember a couple of stories related to me by Dad which I would like to share:

While training at Camp McCoy. He said they were engaged in winter training and their half-track broke a front axel. It wouldn't steer so they cut down a tree with a crook in it and made a sled runner which they attached underneath the tire of broken axel. He said this worked okay but they couldn't make any speed with it. They made it to a farm and asked the farmer if they could sleep in his barn while they waited for a wrecker to recover the half-track. The farmer agreed and the fellows thankfully buried down in the hay that was stored in the barn. Dad said everyone had gone to sleep, warm for the first time in days, when there was a noise in the barnyard. No, it wasn't Santa with eight tiny reindeer. The wrecker had arrived and they had to give up their warm beds, climb back in the cold half-track and be towed back to their encampment.

Roy, told of their training, I think this was at Camp Hood, Texas. He said they were having night training. At some point the group was directed to wait while a patrol scouted ahead. Dad said everyone was tired due to the pace of training. The place where he was laying, as they waited for the patrol to return, became more and more comfortable. Some later time he awoke to find everyone gone, he was there by himself. He never told me what, if anything, happened when he made his way back to the main area. He just said he had no trouble finding his way back.

At some time before they completed their training there was an ice storm and Dad, (Roy Jarvis), along with a lot of other troops were sent to help harvest the wheat crop which had been bent down by the ice so much the harvesting equipment would not work. He didn't say too much about it except for the letter each man received from the Governor of the state. He thought a couple of dollars would have gone a lot further than the "Thank You" they received.

 Vin Valente

At Camp Phillips Kansas, we went to the target area to qualify on the 30 cal machine gun. The gun had to be fired single shot. if you kept your finger too long on the trigger, several round went off thus ruining your score. The target consisted of a large oak tag with squares as big as postage stamps vertically, horizontally, and at 45degree angles. I missed the first shot and my coach said move over one click, which I did. I proceeded to hit each target. Half way through, col. McDonald took over the coaching job and I completed the firing, with a score of 127 out of 128. Major Robinson came by and examined the target and said" I don't believe it" I replied, "I'll do it again if you wish sir. "At that time, I was a PFC radio operator In a recon company. The next day i was assigned to the Colonel's vehicle as machine gunner and chief radio operator for the 808 T D Battalion. I often thought, how could he go wrong with an Italian boy from The Bronx with a machine gun.

Vincent Valente

While on a field trip in a forest in Germany with Col McDonald , Major Robinson, T/5 Dave
Whitlinger [driver] and myself S/Sgt.Vincent Valente [Radio operator]...

It was getting dark so the Col. decided to bed down for the night. He spotted an abandoned house on the hill and decided to spend the night there. He told Dave and myself to stay with the vehicle until morning. The vehicle was parked in a clearing and I noticed a trap door on the ground. Dave lifted the door open and we noticed a dugout below ground. We decided to spend the night in the dugout. The next morning we woke up and climbed out of the dugout and were amazed to see the destruction in the forest. By that time the Col. and Major came walking down the hill towards us. The Col. said "I thought you guys were done for. There was a heavy bombardment through the night." Lucky for us that we discovered the dugout. Being underground we never heard a sound.

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