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Willie Smith Parker, born in 1916 in Nash County, spent most of his life in Edgecombe County. This interview concerns his Army service during World War II. Parker was drafted in 1944 and did his basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. He then went to the Army’s cook and baker school, and shipped out to Normandy from Camp Shanks, New York (six months after D-Day). He was a member of the 95th Infantry, 379th Regiment, though in his service his division kept switching back and forth between Patton’s Third Army and Hedges’s First Army. They were present as reinforcements at the Battle of the Bulge. Parker saw a lot of house-to-house combat in numerous towns in France, Belgium, and Germany, serving as a forward scout. He describes having to break windows to get inside a house to let the others in, and says they sometimes fought all day and only advanced by three houses. He talks about Bastogne and St. Lo, and the freezing nights on the Saar River in Germany and at Liege and Dreux. They were about 80 miles from Berlin when the war ended. Parker and his unit were sent to Shelby, Mississippi for jungle training to go to Japan, but the war in the Pacific ended days before they were supposed to ship out. Parker was released from service on points earned (he explains the points system) and was discharged in December 1945.

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