By E. P. Haynie
Company B, 273rd Infantry
Probably the happiest day of my years in the Army came in November 1943 when I was selected for the Army Air Cadet program. I had spent my first 8 months In Anti Aircraft and was in New York at the P. O. E. My worst day came 6 months later when I joined thousands of other disappointed boys on a train headed for Texas and , in my case, an Ordnance Co. that was packed for a trip to England.. I was only days from graduation at the University of Alabama that would have put me in flight school. All people who came from the ground forces were sent back to the ground forces. Arriving in England shortly after D-Day I was overwhelmed by the sight of so many boys coming back from France with various wounds, some of them assigned to our Company. My Lt. told me I was crazy when I told him I would ask for transfer to the Infantry. "You are doing a great job handling our mail and will soon get a promotion to Tech Sgt. and you can ride out the war here", he told me. I soon found myself landing on Omaha Beach and endured the hardship of living in a pup tent with a foot or more of snow over me until Nov. Finally, I was assigned to an M. P. Co. in newly liberated Paris. The Company Commander, a Captain, took an immediate dislike to me, and assigned me to humiliating and even dangerous tasks. On Christmas Day 1944, I was let off in a remote area very early in the morning and left until near midnight, along with a French soldier, who couldn't speak English. We were to search along a railroad track for German Paratroopers, who were expected to land in support of their position in the Battle of the Bulge. Some time later the Company Clerk approached me and told me they had been ordered to send one man for Infantry training. I said to him "I hope they picked me." He said "You are right. The Captain and First Sgt. agreed you are their choice.' I think the Captain thought he was carrying out a death sentence. He didn't know he was doing me a great favor. After 10 or so days of Infantry training I eventually landed in Co. B. 273rd Infantry. and found my home. Shortly after I was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, We were preparing to jump off on a mission. A new boy in my squad came up to me and asked me to show him how to dismantle and clean his M1 He had been overseas nearly 3 years, in a non combatant outfit. Never carried a rifle. He had goofed up and his punishment was a transfer to the Infantry. He was also proud of his Combat Infantry Badge which he qualified for that evening. I will always be proud of my CIB and my service with Co. B.