William E.Douglas

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Bill Douglas writes:

My father, William E. Douglas, Sr., had an amazing life. Born the son of migrant farm workers during the depression, picking fruit in California (just like in the Grapes of Wrath). Before getting called up for duty in WWII, where he fought in Patton's Army, and was in, not one, but THREE beach landings (like the first horrific 7 minutes of Saving Private Ryan).

His 45th Infantry Division were National Guard, not regular trained Army. So when the US Army awaited a massive attack from Rommel's Panzer Dvisions, General Patton placed the 4 Regular Army Divisions, 2 on each side, with my Dad's National Guard 45th Division in the middle ... Patton was thinking the Regular Army Divisions would offer protection to the less trained National Guard 45th. Rommel got intelligence of what Patton's plan was, and on the day of the attack Rommel sent everything he had ... right up the middle, right at the 45th.

My father had nightmares for the rest of his life about that attack. But, he and the 45th, at least some of the 45th, survived, and General Patton officially cited the 45th for their incredible survival in the face of what anyone would have thought would have been doom.

He served first, before all the above happened, in North Africa (a camel bit him), oh yeah, and he was also shot, and then suffered from Malaria. Then, he landed in Italy, France, and invaded Germany.

Dad's final act in the war, was when his 45th Infantry Division was ordered the night before to take over a German Army post called Dachau. All they knew was that it was a German Army post, and they were to take it.

When the entered the camp, the first thing they saw were the trains full of bodies. Battle hardened men, who'd been through months, or in the case of my father years ... the steeled and jaded men ... fell to their knees and wept like children.

The 45th Infantry is known as "the first US Army Division to enter the Dachau death camp. That too haunted my father for the rest of his life.
In honor of my father, I have spent most of my adult life as an advocate of peace, and at times as an anti-war activist, and have been arrested, served in refugee camps overseas, had M-16s pointed at me, etc. etc.



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Last modified: Wednesday, 18 July 2018