Sunday, November 6, 2011

WWII Veteran - Ted McClung by Betty Dotson-Lewis

"A Mother's Prayer"
Oral History Interview with Ted McClung, WWII Veteran
February, 2001 10:00 a.m.
Summersville, West Virginia

Theodore "Ted" McClung, Army - WWII
November 5, 1942- November 3, 1945

Ted McClung, 89 year old WWII Veteran, receiving his high school diploma from Nicholas County Board member, Jim Cox, February 26, 2001. Photographed by Jurgen Lorenzen

Are you a native West Virginian and Nicholas County?

Yes, I was born September 2, 1923 at home, Mt. Lookout, West Virginia. My parents were Ira and Nora McClung. I have five brothers and four sisters. I was the fifth one going in the service. We all served during WWII. Out of the five, four of us were overseas. We all served in the Army.

When did you enlist in the Army and what motivated you to join up?

I was in my second year at Nicholas County High School when I enlisted in the Army. Four of my brothers were already in the service and I felt dissatisfied and enlisted in November 5, 1942.

Where did you take your Basic Training?

I had my Basic Training at Camp Grant, Illinois, just out of Rockford, where the temperature got down to 45 degrees below zero. Finished Basic Training the 1st of February 1943 and I was sent to Camp Campbell, Kentucky on February 4, 1943 to the 29th Field Hospital.

What were the train of events following Basic Training, serving as a medic during the War?

I finished training in the hospital at Camp Campbell and was transferred to Ft. Ord, California sometime in May. There we had amphibious training with guns (live ammunition) getting ready to go to the Luzon Islands. The Japanese didn't recognize our Red Cross, so we had as much training on how to use guns as the infantry.
We shipped out from Ft. Ord for the Luzon Islands on the 1st day of July, 1943, on a LST Ship, and landed in the Luzons on the 26th of July. We landed on Adick Island. We were there until the 14th of August, 1943. From there we made the invasion on the 15th of August, 1943, at midnight. It was partially daylight (it just gets dusk there, never dark). We were lucky that the Japanese had evacuated the Island. According to reports received, 12,000 Japanese were on the Island but all we found were six in a plane hanger drinking coffee but their guns, supplies and everything was still there. (I always wondered if it were tea instead of coffee they were drinking because they are big tea drinkers).
They left behind between twenty to twenty-five suicide submarines. (It was a great honor for them to be killed like that; chained to a suicide submarine and sent out to die).
We were there until February 12, 1944. We had snow at least twenty feet deep. You could walk on top of the snow. The wind blew all the time. We were medics, but we also unloaded supplies used to invade Japan. We got back to Seattle, Washington on the 20th of February 1944. I went to Ft. Lewis, Washington and then to Camp Bowie, Texas. We got a twenty day furlough and then back to Camp Bowie.
Three weeks later, we were at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, and from there I was shipped to our Division in England where we opened a hospital station. On the 15th of August, 1944, we moved to France and set up our Field Hospital to care for our troops. The closest the Field Hospital could be set up to the front line was from one half mile to one mile. Our job was to take care of our wounded soldiers and the wounded Germans. In November just out of Antwerp, Belgium, we opened up a Station Hospital.
Before Christmas, twenty-five of us were sent to Brussels to open up a hotel for the men coming back from the front lines to rest. In March, 1945, twenty of us were transferred from the hospital to the infantry.
We had infantry training in France but we had already had tougher training at Ft. Ord. Then we went to Nuremberg, Germany as occupational troops. We were there for one; they put us on a train to Marseilles, France for direct shipment to Japan. We were there approximately from one month to six weeks.
We were supposed to load on a ship the 15th of August to go to Japan. The Japanese surrendered on the 14th of August, 1945. They got us out of bed at midnight and told us that we would not be going to Japan; we would be going home.

When were you discharged from the Army and what were your feelings arriving back in America?

On the 1st day of September, 1945, we got on a ship and headed for the US. One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life was the Statue of Liberty when we arrived in New York Harbor. We sailed right by it, close enough to touch, I thought.
We went to Ft. Meade, Maryland. We were given a forty-five day furlough to go home and then report back to Ft. Meade. There, I received my discharge, November of 1945.

What medals did you receive?

I was awarded on the Asiatic, One Battle Star, European Theater, two Battle Stars, Good Conduct Medal, Victory Ribbon, American Theater Ribbon.

Did all your brothers survive the War?

Fortunately, none of my brothers were killed, but one of my brothers suffered from Battle Shock. I got one letter from him; he was in France and then the next time I heard from him, he was in England in the hospital. He served in what was called "the Bastard Tank Battalion," 750th Tank Battalion. They were sent out with a Battalion of infantry on the front lines to clear the way. The stress of killing and intense battle fatigue was too much for him.
Two other brothers served in the 2nd Army Division; one was a Lt. and one a Tech. Sgt. One was on limited service.

What was your Mother's prayer?

My mother's one prayer was that she would see all her sons come home from the war alive, and she did. She passed away soon after that.

Comments from Ted:
I belong to the Civil Air Patrol. I have the rank of Lt. Col. I have total of twenty two ribbons from the Civil Air Patrol and the Army. Ted received his high school diploma at the age of 89. "I am so proud I am finally receiving my high school diploma," were Ted's comments.

Veterans receiving high school diplomas in Nicholas County, West Virginia

Veterans receiving High School diplomas in Nicholas County, West Virginia