From the Bat­tle of the Bulge to mag­is­trate judge

The Covington News - - The second front - PETE MECCA

Dur­ing the De­pres­sion, young men in At­lanta picked pres­ti­gious Boys High School (now Grady H.S.) to groom their ap­ti­tudes for a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion. John Camp­bell grad­u­ated from Boys in 1939. Af­ter high school, he worked for Stan­dard Oil on Ma­ri­etta Street while at­tend­ing night school at At­lanta Ju­nior Col­lege (now Ge­or­gia State). He par­tic­i­pated in both ROTC pro­grams.

“I met my fu­ture wife Re­becca in col­lege,” Camp­bell said. “But af­ter Pearl Har­bor, I knew I’d be called up.” He was. Camp­bell re­ceived train­ing as an anti-air­craft gun­ner at Camp Maxey, Texas, and was cho­sen for Of­fi­cer Can­di­date School. “That fell through be­cause the anti-air­craft crews didn’t need that many of­fi­cers,” he said. In­stead, Camp­bell en­tered the ASTP (Army Spe­cial­ized Train­ing Pro­gram) at Ok­la­homa A&M (now Ok­la­homa State). “I was there about a year,” he re­called. “I was for­tu­nate enough to study engi­neer­ing.”

How­ever, engi­neer­ing and OCS were placed on per­ma­nent hold as the war in Europe heated up af­ter the Nor­mandy In­va­sion. John Camp­bell, a fu­ture lawyer and mag­is­trate judge, was given a BAR (Brown­ing Au­to­matic Ri­fle) and the rank of PFC be­fore join­ing the 99th In­fantry, 393rd Reg­i­ment, 2nd Bat­tal­ion, F Com­pany in Paris, Texas.

“About 5,000 of us boarded the cruise ship SS Ar­gentina and sailed in a vast con­voy to South­hamp­ton, Eng­land,” he said. “I bunked in the Ball Room, bot­tom bunk in a seven-high bunk sys­tem. Shoot, I got tired of be­ing stepped on so asked for guard duty top­side. At least I had fresh air.”

Sta­tioned for two months near the small coastal town of Pid­dle­hin­ton, the 99th even­tu­ally crossed the English Chan­nel to Le Havre, France. Camp­bell said, “From there, we were trucked into Aubel, Bel­gium, then as­signed to the front lines near the vil­lages of Krinkelt and Rocherath in front of the Dragon’s Teeth of the West Wall.” (Con­crete pyra­mids, 2 to 5 feet high, mainly to stop tanks).

For the next two months, Camp­bell fought skir­mishes on night pa­trols with 20 to 30 of his bud­dies un­til all hell broke loose on Dec 16, 1944. Amer­i­cans called that hell The Bat­tle of the Bulge.

Camp­bell said, “We hun­kered down and held the ‘north­ern shoul­der’ of the Bulge from the Bel­gian bor­der down to the be­sieged town of Bas­togne for the bet­ter part of a week,” Camp­bell said. “We took ca­su­al­ties, but not near as bad as other out­fits. Some out­fits lost 90 per­cent of their men, ei­ther cap­tured, wounded or dead. I got hit on Dec. 22.”

Camp­bell’s fox­hole buddy was a sol­dier named Jim Jen­son, fu­ture VP of Honey­well in Min­neapo­lis. “Jim and I were al­ways dig­ging,” Camp­bell said. “We dug to stay alive from in­com­ing ar­tillery and tank fire. En­emy tanks and in­fantry came at us ev­ery day.” The men were tired and hun­gry, low on ammo and food. Camp­bell vol­un­teered for a sprint to the rear for K-ra­tions. “I had just got back and was run­ning from fox­hole to fox­hole throw­ing guys K-ra­tions when an ex­plo­sion knocked me off my feet.”

Most of Camp­bell’s left leg had been shred­ded by an 88mm ar­tillery burst. He said, “I crawled over to the fox­hole so Jim could ap­ply a tourni­quet. I was still out­side the fox­hole be­ing treated when an­other nearby ex­plo­sion sliced off my right leg.” Bleed­ing pro­fusely, Camp­bell and Jen­son uti­lized both their belts as tourni­quets.

Amid ar­tillery fire and tank as­saults, Camp­bell’s bud­dies placed him on a stretcher and hus­tled him out of harm’s way. With his stretcher tied to a jeep, Camp­bell kept hear­ing, ‘Don’t pass out, don’t pass out,’ un­til reach­ing a MASH unit set up in the court­yard of a nearby farm house. He said, “They sort of trimmed off the rest of my leg, and that’s when I sort of passed out.”

Sent to Eu­pen, Bel­gium, Camp­bell was placed on a Paris-bound train and re­ceived his first shot of mor­phine. “I’d been in agony be­fore the shot,” he said. “But I felt pretty good af­ter re­ceiv­ing mor­phine.”

Bet­ter treat­ment lay ahead in Paris, more trim­ming on the leg, and a DC-3 flight back to the states, via the Azores, Ber­muda, and Mitchell Field, Long Is­land.

Camp­bell said, “They gave me a choice of hos­pi­tals. The first was At­lanta. I said, ‘Hold it right there, At­lanta is the place,’ so I was on my way home.” Home was the all bar- racks hospi­tal of Law­son Gen­eral (now Peachtree DeKalb Air­port).

“Re­becca came to see me all the time,” Camp­bell said. “I was on crutches in a month or so, and that helped my mo­bil­ity.” On a day Camp­bell was not in his bar­racks, the wounded war­riors in his ward were vis­ited by Amer­i­can World War I fighter Ace, Eddie Rick­en­backer. Camp­bell said, “All the guys had pin-up girls over their beds. I had a photo of a DC-3. Rick­en­backer told the men to re­lay a mes­sage to me, ‘Tell this man to call me and he has a job at Eastern Air­lines.’ Well, I did, and I got the job.”

The job was in Miami. While there, Camp­bell earned a law de­gree from the Univer­sity of Miami, passed the Florida Bar, and even­tu­ally worked for Lock­heed in At­lanta. Camp­bell later worked for home builder Vic­tor Har­ris, took and passed the Ge­or­gia Bar, and ended his work­ing ca­reer as the night mag­is­trate judge for DeKalb County.

He re­quested dur­ing the in­ter­view, “Do not make me into a hero. I just did my duty and re­turned home to live out my life as best I could, and, of course, to marry Re­becca.” Mar­ried in 1946, John and Re­becca have been to­gether for 66 years.

Ms. Jeanette Al­li­son, 77, of Cov­ing­ton, passed away July 28 at her res­i­dence.

The daugh­ter of Gor­don and El­iz­a­beth Brooks Al­li­son, she was born in 1934 in Union Point. Ms. Al­li­son en­joyed gar­den­ing and read­ing and loved mu­sic and an­tiquing. She was a mem­ber of First Pres­by­te­rian Church of Cov­ing­ton and worked for many years as an ac­coun­tant, em­ployed at Ge­or­gia State Univer­sity. Ms. Al­li­son was pre­ceded in death by her sis­ter Betty Dunn.

Ms. Al­li­son is sur­vived by her daugh­ters and sons-in-law Joyce and Dan Barn­hill of Snel­lville and Deb­bie and Jeff Bennett of Cony­ers; sis­ter Pat Har­ri­son of Dal­las, Texas; grand­chil­dren Christo­pher and Jen­nifer Barn­hill, Jonathan Barn­hill and Patrick Bennett; and great-grand­chil­dren Ja­cob, Dy­lan and Noah.

Funeral ser­vices for Ms. Al­li­son will be held at 11 a.m. to­day, Aug. 1, at the chapel of J.C. Har­well & Son Funeral Home with the Rev. Al My­ers of­fi­ci­at­ing. In­ter­ment will be held at 2 p.m. at Union Point City Ceme­tery.

John Camp­bell joined the 99th In­fantry, 393rd Reg­i­ment.

John Camp­bell lives in DeKalb County, but is well­known in the New­ton County area.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.