The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Ninety Years of Memories, Service to Others and Allegiance to U.S.A.–One Nation Under God
By Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher
The story of Ray Shafer continues after he received his Green Card in February of 1943 at age 18, went into the U.S. Army on his 19th birthday, October 13, 1943, and has finished his initial training and is in Pennsylvannia.
Ray’s group were given their overseas shots at Camp Shenango.
“It was a “separation center”where they could be sent to the west or the east coast.
“A lot went to the west islands,” he said. “I was sent to Europe.”
In WW I, Hitler had been a corporal but in WWII, Hitler was Chancelor in Germany, and he formed the Nazi party training all the young boys. The most feared were the “Gestapo” and the “S.S.. They would show no mercy.”
It was late September in 1943, almost his 20th birthday, when Ray was assigned to go aboard ship to go overseas. Before he left, he was sent to Boston, Massachussetts to Camp Milescandish where he received more shots and training and we were to have a 30 day leave before we shipped out. “My friends and I came back from the Service Club and the Sargeant told us to get our baggage and put in on the boat and that we were being shipped out in 20 minutes. We said we were to get training and a 30 day leave, but he said that wasn’t going to happen.. When we were on the boat the Captain asked us if we had been trained to fire a rifle and to take it a part and if we had any training on the the landing craft, we said, ‘What do you mean landing craft?”
“That Captain was so mad he could have killed that Sargeant. He had to begin training us on the boat having us shoot cans off the waves as they swell.” It took a while to learn it,” Ray said., and they needed to be able to take their guns apart and put them back together in the dark.” Ray said they were traveling in a big convoy and one day they heard a “tweet-tweet-tweet.” and then a call from the sound system “now hear this now hear this all hands on deck.. They had spotted two submarines and they brought the big guns up and shot toward where they thought they were. We zeroed in and shot the gun and it shook the whole ship. One of our guys came running out of the John with his pants at his knees saying we’ve been shot, we’ve been shot.”
They laughed about it later.
“We had hit one sub but no sign of the other. It makes you nervous. The other ships had scattered and disappeared and we were left behind as a decoy.
Finally the subs were gone and we saw land the next day and after twenty-two days the Navy had landed in South Wales. We were headed for Great Britain.”
“We were to assist with the landing of Anzio Beach in Italy, but changed our course. At Wales we boarded a train and it started raining and we were hearing some firing of by German planes. At 4 p.m. we stopped at Big Castle and unloaded and I wanted to see the castle and the cemetery and Ray said his grade school geography came in handy.
“I think history and geography should be the number one thing they teach today in school,” Ray said.
Ray Shafer, continues next week