Heroes of a Different Sort: The Stories of Two World War II Veterans

My first narrative is that of Carl Anderson Justice, a true Tennessee Hillbilly, and I mean no disrespect whatsoever by that term but the utmost admiration.  Carl was born to William Riley and Eliza Ellen Woods Justice in Petros, Morgan County, Tennessee on September 4, 1911.  He was their third surviving child.  Riley worked as a coal miner from years prior to Carl’s birth to the time of Carl’s teenage years.  As a young’un (Tennessee terminology) Carl spent a great deal of his time hunting, fishing, and farming.  Life in the hills of Tennessee during the early days of the twentieth century was always a challenge, and families raised much of their own vegetables and hunted or trapped much of their meat.  Most had chickens for eggs and a cow for milk.  By 1920, the Justice family was living in Oliver Springs, Tennessee.

Carl A Justice, about 1921

Carl, about 1921, probably in Oliver Springs

Carl told stories of him and his buddies on Halloween night flipping over outhouses as pranks, so he was not much different than teenagers of today.  His mother, who he called Ma, was a gentle, sweet, black-haired lady who could make the simplest of foods taste wonderful.  She made what she called an apple sauce cake from dried apples in several thin layers, and it was sublime.  Her recipe for biscuits had no leavening in it, and they were flat little things, but those biscuits were divine.

By 1930, Riley was working as a truck farmer and the family was living on Beech Fork Road in the Joyner community of Morgan County.  In addition to doing odd jobs, Carl helped his father do the farming.  In late winter, they would burn the old vegetation from the mountainside and prepare it for planting.  One of Carl’s sisters said that when there was a lot of smoke in the air people would say, “That’s just Riley and Carl up there burning down the mountain”.

In early 1940, the family was still living on Beech Fork Road just above the Kelly farm, and Carl was working for John Kelly as a farm laborer.  Riley was employed as a land agent, negotiating with landowners for their mineral (coal) rights.  Both Carl’s sisters were already married and he was the only one still living at home.

He enlisted in the US Army Field Artillery at Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina on November 6, 1940.  He was assigned to Battery C, 83rd Field Artillery and trained in the Field Artillery Basic Training for three months.  In March of 1941, his unit relocated to Fort Sill, Oklahoma where he attended the Quartermaster Corps Cooks and Bakers School for eight weeks.  Carl began his military career at Fort Sill as a cook, and progressed to the rank of Technician Fourth Grade while there.  He maintained that rank for his entire time at Fort Sill.  On October 14, 1943 was his last time in the Army to qualify with a rifle, and of course he qualified as Expert.

Menu Fort Sill, Oklahoma

Thanksgiving, 1941, Menu for Battery C

In March of 1944, his unit was transferred to Los Angeles for deployment to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Military Operations.  TEC4 Carl A. Justice departed from the United States on March 28, 1944 en route to New Guinea.  On April 30, 1944, he arrived in Lae, Papua, New Guinea.  He was assigned to Headquarters Battery of the 251st Field Artillery Battalion and promoted in rank to Staff Sergeant (Mess Sergeant).  As such he was in charge of five other cooks.  He prepared the menus, supervised the preparation of food, requisitioned supplies, inspected all foods, and kept a record of supplies and equipment.  The 251st FA Battalion was a 105mm Howitzer Battalion.

105mm Field Artillery unit

This is a picture of a 105mm Field Artillery unit in the European Theater, but the equipment was the same. Picture source, US Army Signal Corps.

Carl A Justice

SSGT Carl A. Justice in New Guinea, dressed like a soldier, not a Mess Sergeant.

By the end of May of 1944, the 251st Field Artillery Battalion had helped to secure the airfields near Lae, and they were transported on to Biak on Pulau Biak Island of the Schouten Islands.  From there Carl’s unit was transported to Luzon, Philippines.  Headquarters Battery was actually stationed in the mountains just above Luzon near a small town by the name of Quezon.  The artillery guns could target any area they wanted from the location.  As a Mess Sergeant, Carl did not see much action, but he was able to appropriate a Japanese presentation flag from an enemy military vehicle, and the flag exists today.  Carl and a buddy got drunk and tossed grenades into a cave on a hill above the field kitchen, not knowing they had taken out a Japanese sniper.  They were called in to the Commanding Officer’s headquarters, but would not admit to what they had done.  If they had they would have received a commendation.  Carl became good friends with a Philippine family while stationed there, and members of both families stay in touch to this day.  During his tenure in World War II, SSGT Carl A. Justice provided a very basic but very important component of the operation.  He and the other cooks kept the actual soldiers well fed and prepared to defeat the Japanese.  On November 24, 1945, SSGT Carl A. Justice departed from the Philippine Islands on the SS Sea Corporal as a part of Operation Magic Carpet, the military operation to bring soldiers home from World War II.  To be demobilized each soldier had to have an ASR score of at least 80, and Carl had a score of 83.

SS Sea Corporal

SS Sea Corporal with SSGT Carl Justice on board.

His awards included the World War II Victory Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, American Theater Ribbon, American Defense Service Ribbon, AP Theater Ribbon with Two Bronze Stars, and Philippine Liberation Ribbon with One Bronze Star.  Everyone who served during World War II received a letter of thanks from President Harry Truman, but very few have survived.

Letter from President Truman

Letter from the White House

The SS Sea Corporal arrived back in the United States at Los Angeles on December 12, 1945, and by December 20, 1945, Carl A. Justice separated from the US Army as a TEC4 at the Separation Center at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas.  On December 22, 1945 Carl married Eunah Rachel Snider in Rossville, Georgia.  They had exchanged letters for most of the time he was in the US Army.  She was born in Oklahoma, but had spent the majority of her life in Ellis County, Texas.

Eunah and Carl, early 40's

Eunah and Carl

After they were married, they made the small town of Wartburg, Tennessee their home.  By 1951, they had four children, two boys and two girls.  During the years that Carl and Eunah lived in Tennessee, he had multiple ways of providing food for the family.  He grew a great many vegetables in the garden beside the house.  He raised and sold “Coon Hounds”.  He raised hogs.  He hunted animals and sold pelts.  He hunted and trapped various animals for food.  He harvested ginseng roots for sale.  He raised a Jersey cow for milk and butter.  He worked on various farms in the area.  He also worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority building the Kingston Steam Plant to provide electricity for the area.  There were always chickens for eggs and for food.  The family was well provided for.  In 1956 the family moved to Texas where his offspring continue to reside.  On June 19, 1996, Carl Anderson Justice, Veteran of World War II, passed away and was buried in Mansfield Cemetery, Mansfield, Tarrant County, Texas.  This is my salute to Carl A. Justice, American Hero.

The second story that I want to tell is that of Guy Clifford West.  Guy was born on February 9, 1919 in Tyler, Smith County, Texas.  He was the son of William Bird and Annie Mae Snow West.  About the first ten years of his life were spent in Smith County.

Guy C West and brother, Wayne

Guy C, West and his brother, Wayne

Just by looking at the above picture, it is clear that Guy had very red hair, which was handed on down the family line.  By 1930, the family had relocated to Plainview, Hale County, Texas, in the panhandle area.  In the early 30’s, Guy’s father farmed land in the small town of Halfway.  The town of about 25 people got its name because it was about 14 miles between Plainview and Olton.  While living there Guy attended grade school at Halfway School.

Halfway, Texas

Halfway, Hale County, Texas, 1979

By 1936, the family was living back in Smith County, and Guy graduated from Winona High School in 1937.  After graduation, he worked for about two years as a laborer at B. L. Ginn Rose Nursery where he learned how to propagate roses by budding, something that he later taught some of his children to do.  Between 1939 and 1941, Guy worked as a plumber’s helper for Economy Butane Gas Company.  Then, on March 11, 1941, he was inducted into the US Army at the Induction Station at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.  After he completed his basic training, Guy attended the Quartermaster Corps Cooks and Bakers School for a period of eight weeks.  He came out of the school as a baker.  By the time that he was deployed overseas, Guy was a Technician Fourth Grade or TEC4.  He was assigned to the 119th Quartermaster Baking Company, and on August 15, 1943, he departed the United States for New Guinea.  His unit arrived in Papua, New Guinea on September 13, 1943.  The soldiers had to be vaccinated for several diseases while there.

Immunization Record

Immunization Record for Guy C. West, Smallpox, Typhoid, Tetanus, Cholera, Yellow Fever

Eventually his unit was transported to Luzon, Philippines.  His unit supplied bread for the soldiers on the front lines fighting to win the war against the Japanese.  A typical baking company was divided into four platoons, each platoon consisting of about 38 men.  The platoons were then organized into four sections of about 9 men each.  A section was able to produce enough bread to supply an entire battalion of about 800 men with fresh bread each day.  TEC4 Guy C. West and his section provided the bread that was necessary to keep the Army fighting the enemy, for an army cannot win a war with empty stomachs.  In September of 1945, the US Army began to demobilize the troops in the Philippines.  To be demobilized, a soldier had to have an ASR score of 80 to be sent back to the United States, and Guy had a score of 89.  On November 9, 1945, TEC4 West departed the Philippines on the USS Admiral C. F. Hughes bound for home.

USS C F Hughes

USS C F Hughes (AP-124) a part of Operation Magic Carpet

Meal Card

Guy’s Meal Ticket while on his way home

On November 24, 1945, the ship was back in the United States, and Guy was sent to the Separation Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas to be separated from the United States Army.  While at the separation center, he applied for a two week leave to go home and get married.  All he could get was a weekend pass, so the story goes that he took off anyway and headed to Tarrant County where his fiancee lived.  Guy Clifford West and Billie Elizabeth Wreay were married by Rev. H. W. Croft of Kennedale Baptist Church on December 16, 1945.

Guy C and Billye E Wreay West

Guy and Billie, Christmas, 1945

Technician Fourth Grade Guy C. West then returned to Fort Sam Houston and was officially separated from the US Army on January 1, 1946.  Between February of 1946 and July of 1946 Guy studied courses at Brantley-Draughn Business College.  Then, between 1956 and 1960 he attended Texas Christian University studying acounting and business.  Until 1973, he worked at General Dynamics as a time keeper and later a cost analyst.  By 1958, Guy and Billie celebrated the birth of their fourth child.  They had one son and three daughters.  Guy also spent time in the employment of the United States Postal Service.  He was a deacon in at least two Baptist churches.  He lost Billie to breast cancer in 1992.  In many ways Guy is a rare commodity.  He served in World War II and is still with us.  He is now approaching his 99th birthday.  He is well liked by all who are fortunate enough to know him.  World War II Veteran and American Hero Guy C. West gets my heartfelt salute.

On this Veterans Day, I pay allegiance to these two remarkable Veterans, and honor them for all that their lives have meant to so many.

Until next time, I’ll see you on down the road.

Uncle Thereisno Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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