PMHS Students interview vets

Published 4:45 pm Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Picayune Memorial High School history students spent class time with Veterans last Monday. The history teachers, Allison Wheat and Glenn Mitchell gathered the information each student garnered from the 10 veterans they interviewed. Some of the notes are illegible. Some were sketchy and undecipherable. Most were detailed and concise. Here are the things that impressed the students about each veteran.

John Young of Picayune, was in the Army for 14 years, and was 21 years old when he was sent to Vietnam where he spent two and one half years of his life. He earned a Combat Infantry Badge, three Bronze Stars, two Air Medals, Purple Heart and the Vietnamese Cross. He met and made life-long friends in the Army. he was a rifle squad leader. His most painful memory is the responsibility he felt for the soldiers that were lost. He asked to go to Vietnam because he believed in what was being fought for there. His father was a WWII veteran.

J.B. Humphrey of Delhi, La was in the Air Force, and served during WWII. He was 22 at the time. He flew 32 missions including the Battle of N. France and Battle of Ryan River, receiving two stars. He also flew in the Battle of the Bulge. He was shot down on March 25, 1944 in Lindberg, Germany on his 32nd mission. He flew a mosquito bomber, made out of plywood. Two facts that made a huge impression on the students: “They made killers out of boys,” he told the students. He flew a general from London to Egypt in four hours and fifteen minutes. He earned a Purple Heart and an Air Medal.

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David Archer of Carriere joined the Navy when he was 17. He was stationed aboard the USS Mount McKinley AGC 7. His medals include, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Republic of Vietnam, Presidential Unit Citation for the first amphibious landing of 100,000 U.S. troops. He was a Navy electrician. His most vivid and pleasant memory is of one Christmas some little Vietnamese children came aboard for Christmas. A casualty of the war in Vietnam was his first marriage. He had to make a choice between his children or his Naval career and he chose his children. “The war is not over when the shooting stops,” he told the students. “I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world.” His worst memory was when he let a 19 year old use his boat, and the boy was killed. “Losing friends was the hardest part,” he said.

“Once a Marine, always a Marine,” Johnny Myers told the students. He fought in the Vietnam War, joining the Marines when he was 20 years old. he earned the Navy Achievement with Combat V medal. He told several stories: He was on patrol, walking down a trail. The mission was to get the sniper. The Commander told them the sniper was either on the first or second trail, then he left them on their own saying, “Good luck.” Myers was up the trail with a bunker on one side and a bunker on the other. A monkey shook a tree. That scared the men, but it wasn’t the sniper. He told them about Operation Purple Martin, when the 101st had been “beaten up pretty bad,” and his unit had to pull them out.

Jim Ballard of Picayune was in the Army serving in WWII, Korea, and in Vietnam. He vividly remember going through the Mediterranean and the ship being torpedoed there. He remembers the German POWs coming to the U.S. and marching in a straight line for miles.

Lloyd Shubert of Slidell, La joined the Army when he was 23, and served in Vietnam. Some of the guys in his unit were searching for shotgun shells to go hunting. When they shot the lock off the door of the storage building, the ammunition blew up. In 1953, he was stationed in Fairbanks, Al.

Emmett Hays of Picayune joined the Air Force when he was 19 years old. He served in the Korean War. He remembers taking trips to old German castles and to the concentration camps. He was stationed in Ryan Main Air Base.

John Wilson was 29 years old when he was in the Navy serving during WWII. He was a SeaBee. He earned a bronze medal. “The media makes a big deal out of 5,000 dying in the last five years,” he told the students. “Well, 5,000 peoploe would die in a day during WWII.”

Fred Henley of Picayune was 18 years old when he was drafted. He went into the Marine Corps and served during WWII on the Air Craft Carrier, USS Regiment in the Pacific. He was on the ship that the first Kamakazie pilot flew into, the first war ship that anchored in Tokyo Bay. The Japanese were scared to death of them, and the children were the only ones that would talk to them. The children were crazy about chocolate bars. He was an air craft gunner.

“I have never seen high school students as engrossed as these kids were. The men enjoyed it as much as the children,” Wheat said. “I’m hoping this will be an annual event. Most of the men said they would enjoy coming back next year.”