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Special Edition: December 7, 2006


"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"
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World War II was a worldwide conflict fought between the Allied and Axis powers which lasted from 1939 to 1945. It remains the largest world war in history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 62 million people--25 million soldiers and 37 million civilians, including 12 million victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Commonly held general causes for WWII are the rise of nationalism, the rise of militarism, and the presence of unresolved territorial issues. Fascist movements emerged in Italy and Germany during the global economic instability of the 1920s, and consolidated power during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

On December 7, 1941 (65 years ago today) Japanese forces launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. This act of aggression caused 2,403 deaths, left 1,178 injured and resulted in the official involvement of the United States in World War II. As were many families across the U.S., the Rhodes family was touched by the war, and it altered the course of our family history in ways both large and small, both known and unknown. Depending on perspective, every war is remembered for its heroes, its villains, and all those in between.

We are very proud to honor our very own special hero of World War II, Robert Lee Rhodes. We thank you for your wartime service and your dedication to our family!

The following excerpts are taken from Robert Rhodes’ personal accounts of his military service during World War II. The complete documents may be viewed by accessing his files entitled “Tales from Dad” in the Files section of the CrossRhodes Group site.

“...Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and our neutrality ended. We were at war. Although we didn't formally declare war on Germany until early in 1942, it was obvious that we would be involved until the end of the conflict, which at that time, was not in the foreseeable future….I began to think that an able bodied person of my age should take his place with his peers in the armed forces, and leave civilian war work to those who could not serve in the military for one reason or the other...”

“…My draft number came up in December 1943, and I was eventually inducted into the Army on January 24, 1944. On 15 Jul, 1944, my basic and specialized training was over and theoretically, at least I was fit to be a combat soldier in the U.S. Army. Our orders were cut to report to Ft. Mead, Maryland on 1 Aug, with a 14-day delay en route, so that we could visit our families before being shipped overseas. None of us had any idea where we would be sent, to the European Theater, the Pacific Theater or somewhere in between. But for 14 days I had a glorious visit with my family. On 17 Aug we were hauled to the docks in New York and as our units were called, we boarded our liberty ship. On 20 Aug the ship pulled out into the harbor and joined a large convoy. From that time on, we were not to feel land under our feet for the next twelve days, until we disembarked in Grennock, Scotland on 1 Sep…”

“…our special group number, GM900 soon found ourselves on a train with lots of other groups, and we were soon headed southward through the picturesque terrain of Scotland, and on through the lake country of England. By nightfall we were still traveling, and soon the monotony of the click of the wheels on the rails took its toll and most of us slept as best we could. Sometime in the middle of the night of 4 Sep, the 14 men of GM900 were put off the train, and we were told to climb aboard a waiting army truck. The night was pitch black because England was still under blackout conditions…”

“…We found that we were in a place called Kingstanding, which was near Birmingham, England... Some went to work in the bakery where they made bread and cakes for the NAFFI (British USO), and others of us went to work on the censor’s office, where we sealed and stamped the letters after the officers had censored them...”

“...On 15 Oct three of us from the GM900 group boarded the transport ship that was to take us across the English Channel, along with several other groups. By nightfall we pulled out of the Southampton harbor and by morning we were anchored off the coast of Normandy. We disembarked over the side onto rope landing nets and into smaller LCP's which took us ashore and emptied us onto the beach through large doors that let down in front. The water was about waist high and we had to wade the rest of the way to shore. We later found out that this was Omaha Beach, and we were eternally thankful that we were not part of the troops that had been off loaded on this beach a couple of months earlier...”

“…We were in about the sixth week of our scheduled nine-week training period when, in mid December 1944, the Germans launched the Battle of the Bulge offensive between Luxemburg and Belgium in the Ardennes area. This ended our training and we were scheduled to be shipped out for combat duty...”

“…As the evening began to fade into night, the Sergeant woke me and said it's nearly time to go, so I grabbed my boots to get ready but my feet would not go into the boots because they were so swollen. The sergeant looked at my feet and said "you better go check in at the aid station down the street". So, I hobbled to the aid station and when the Doctor looked at my feet he said I wasn't going anywhere and he put me on a stretcher and in a few minutes I was in an ambulance with several other men bound for the field hospital in Aachen...They kept me there until morning, then put me on a hospital train with several other casualties. We had no idea of the destination, but it turned out to be a general hospital in Paris France. By this time my feet were so tender that I couldn't walk on them, after about a week I was able to stand, and although it hurt I tried to walk a little so as to get the circulation going…”

“…When the train pulled into the station at Fort Leonard Wood some 6x6 army trucks driven by WAC's took us to our the field house where there was a very large sign across the building that said "WELCOME YOU FIGHTING 8TH. ETO TO TOKYO", so that made it very clear as to what our destiny had been if the war had continued. We were extremely thankful for the good news that Japan had surrendered...”

“... Since I had seen combat duty I had enough points to be discharged, so on the first of December I got my discharge papers, packed my bag and went home never to return to Fort Leonard Wood...”


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