When drafted into the army in 1943, A. Cleveland Harrison was a reluctant eighteen-year-old Arkansas student sure that he would not make a good soldier. But inside thirty months he manfully bore arms and more. This book is his memoir about becoming a soldier, a common infantryman among the ranks of those who truly won the war.
After the Allied victory in 1945, books by and about the major statesmen, generals, and heroes of World War II appeared regularly. Yet millions of American soldiers who helped achieve and secure victory slipped silently into civilian life, trying to forget the war and what they had done. Most remain unsung, for virtually none thought of themselves as exceptional. During the war ordinary soldiers had only done what they believed their country expected.
Harrison's firsthand account is the full history of what happened to him in three units from 1943 to 1946, disclosing the sensibilities, the conflicting emotions, and the humor that coalesced within the naive draftee. He details the induction and basic training procedures, his student experiences in Army pre-engineering school, his infantry training and overseas combat, battle wounds and the complete medical pipeline of hospitalization and recovery, the waits in replacement depots, life in the Army of Occupation, and his discharge.
Wrenched from college and denied the Army Specialized Training Program's promise of individual choice in assignment, students were thrust into the infantry. Harrison's memoir describes training in the Ninety-fourth Infantry Division in the U.S., their first combat holding action at Lorient, France, and the division's race to join Patton's Third Army, where Harrison's company was decimated and he was wounded while attacking the Siegfried Line. Reassigned to the U.S. Group Control Council, he had a unique opportunity to observe both the highest echelons in military government and the ordinary soldiers as Allied troops occupied Berlin.
This veteran's memoir reveals all aspects of military life and sings of those valorous but ordinary soldiers who achieved the victory.