THE RARE BREED |
Recognizing Area Veterans Of World War II
Frank Pearce Helped To Keep
The Tanks Rolling Through Europe
FRANK PEARCE IN WORLD WAR II
Frank Pearce was born at LaWard in Jackson County on September 29, 1922 to Ben and Florence Dorton Pearce. In 1942 he was working at Edna, when he changed jobs and joined the workforce at Camp Hulen where his sweetheart, Lillie Mae Green, was working.
He and Lillie Mae were married in Palacios on Oct. 26, 1942. Knowing that his draft notice was coming and not wanting to be drafted, he decided to enlist. Following is his World War II story, as he wrote it for this series.
"In December 1942, I went to Houston. There, I read in the Houston Post that an ordnance company was being formed in Houston, so I went down and signed up.
"I was called for basic training in March 1943 and was sent to Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio. From there I was sent to Camp San Anita, California for basis. From there, I was stationed at Camp Beale, Calif. for several months, then I went to an Advance Parts School in Toledo, Ohio.
"Our company, 557th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Tank Company, was attached to an armored division in Fort Ord, Calif. The armored division would practice, during which tanks would be sunk in Monterrey Bay. Our company would recover the tanks, tear them apart, clean them up and put them back into service.
"In August 1944, we were shipped to Camp Miles Standish, near Boston, Mass. We boarded a ship, the USS General J.R. Books, a converted Liberty ship, for departure to Europe. We landed Aug. 14, 1944 in the English Channel. We went over the side of the ship on a rope ladder to be transported to shore. There we no docks there. We were the first convoy to arrive directly in France, all previous convoys had gone thru England.
"We set up camp in Volognes, France, in an apple orchard. From there, we moved through France to Fran-cor-Chompo, Belgium. We set up our shop in a railroad station and began working on tanks, trucks and other equipment.
"As there wasn't enough quarters for all of us to stay in one place, the local people let us stay in their homes. Myself and three other soldiers stayed in the Michele Godfried home. The native Belgium people were real nice and friendly to us. (In 1944, my wife and I went back to Fran-cor-Chompo to see the Godfried family, and to retrace the route we took thru France, Belgium and Germany in 1944. In 1995, our Belgium friends came to see us, their first trip to the USA.)
"On Dec. 7, 1944 we moved on to Eupen, Belgium, into a cable factory where we worked on many damaged tanks. Two days after we left there for Petit Waret, Belgium, the cable factory area was bombed by the Germans, at the beginning of the 'Battle of the Bulge.'
"Needless to say we were on the move at this time. December 25, 1944 came and we couldn't take time to cook Christmas dinner.
"On January 29, 1945 we moved to Clairafontaine, France, where there was three to four feet of snow on the ground. In February we moved back to Belgium, then on to Aachen, Germany. Attached to the 9th Armored Division, we crossed the Rhine River at Regamen, Germany. The Regamen bridge had been captured by the Allies at this time.
"Then, on May 8, 1945, we were on the German Autobahn, going to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, when we learned the war with Germany was over.
"We stayed in Czechoslovakia until we received orders that we were returning to the USA. We left Europe on July 12, 1945, arriving in New York harbor after passing the Statue of Liberty. I was happy to be back in America.
"The 557th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company was deactivated in September 1945. The campaigns we had been involved in were Ardennes, Central Germany, Rhur, Rhineland and the Battle of the Bulge.
"I was discharged on Dec. 8, 1945 as a sergeant.
"My wife, Lillie Mae, and I moved to the Deutschburg Community, west of Palacios, in 1946. We have one son, Larry and daughter-in-law, Jean Pearce, of Rockport; and two grandchildren, Matthew and Erin Pearce.
"Lillie Mae and I celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary on October 26.
"God Bless America."
Mr. Pearce passed away Jan. 8, 2010 at the age of 87.
Frank and Lille Mae Pearce
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