American POWs of World War II: Forgotten Men Tell Their Stories

By Tom Bird | Go to book overview

Tom Grove

Tom Grove joined cleregy and then became a chaplain as the result of his experience as a POW.

I was a senior in high school, age 17. World War II was raging then, and I had an older brother who volunteered for the U.S. Army and was sent to North Africa. I was emotionally moved about him being there. The U.S. inductive services were speaking at high schools, motivating young men to go to the armed forces. I volunteered to go into the U.S. Army on January 16, 1943, the day I became 18.

We could sign up and get what branch of service we wanted. Well, I signed up for the air corps and got the infantry. On March 3, I was inducted and sent to Camp Wheeler, Georgia, for basic training. From there, we went straight overseas with no furlough. We went from Camp Wheeler up through the States and over into Washington state, got on a boat, and ended up in the Aleutian Islands, in Alaska and Dutch Harbor.

I got attached to an anti-aircraft outfit. Those soldiers had already been on the island about three years, so after about 14 more months they got to come back to the States, and I came with them. We who were there only 14 months got weeded out pretty quick. I ended up in Texas and got reassigned to Fort Jackson at Columbia, South Carolina. It was there that I got assigned to the 87th Division, the 345th Infantry. They were making preparation for overseas duty. We trained there for a period of time, then were shipped off to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, for overseas duty again. With about 15,000 other soldiers, I boarded the Queen Elizabeth and sailed the Atlantic for the European Theater of Operations. After

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