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Lealon Edward Strickland was born on a farm in the Samaria Community of Nash County in 1923. This interview highlights his World II experiences. Strickland was drafted in February, 1943, while in his first year at North Carolina State College (he dropped out). He did his basic training in St. Petersburg, Florida, and went into the 595 Signal Air Watch, attached to various sections of the Army Air Corps. In April he shipped out from Camp Stoneman in San Francisco to New Guinea. He spent time as a radar operator on New Guinea, first at Lae and in the Markum Valley (where they had to cut head-high grass and watch out for enormous constrictor snakes) and then at Biag, a coral island. Afterwards his unit was sent to Mindanao. He describes most of his wartime work as routine but interesting – tracking incoming planes on radar from 150 miles out (in support of operations at Zig Zag Pass, among other places). He went on voluntary patrols sometimes, but once declined to join his friend on a patrol; all the men who went out that night were killed. Strickland also shares memories of his childhood. They were poor but grew their own crops to eat and had livestock and chickens. They raised wheat which they took to Rock Ridge Roller Mills at Rock Ridge, and corn which they took to be milled at the Hoover Murray Mill Pond. He says he loved the peaceful mill area, and was baptized at that pond. He wishes to remember three friends who were killed in World War II: Donnell Murray, Kenneth Tant, and George Whitley; also C. S. Marks, who was taken prisoner but survived. Strickland valued his time in the military and thinks it would be good for all graduating high school boys to do two years’ service.

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