By Jennifer Martin - email
AD McBeath turned 18 the day after he finished high school. He celebrated his birthday with a trip to the draft board. World War II was underway. He joined the army infantry.
"My first action was at Anzio Beach head in Italy. They dumped you off up there. Had to go out by water. I asked this little boy in the Navy, 'when you coming back?' He says, 'we're not coming back. You're here'," McBeath recalls.
He was a replacement solider. He joined the allied troops who had been there about a month.
"Anzio was a complete inferno. It was primarily a defensive patrol area, just waiting for the push to Rome. Then after the push to Rome they said that no Army would ever fight for the city of Rome. It was always declared an open city. So the Germans moved 70 KM north and after that we were pulled back," McBeath said.
They went to Solerno, then Southern France.
"We encountered small arms, mortar, artillery. But no Air Force," McBeath added.
They patrolled and slowly, moving the Germans out of France. His most memorable encounter was near the French-German Border.
"It was about dark and our company commander told us the Jerry's were moving back. And when you're in the infantry and you dig in for a night, you dig in on the reverse slope of the hill, so you can see anything coming over the horizon," McBeath added.
The German soliders dug in on the opposite side of the hill.
"They knew where we were. And I guess about 30 minutes, it all broke loose," McBeath said.
"Tank fire I think is the most nerve wracking thing. That tank is shooting direct and that projectile hits and then they throw another one in there by hand. Well you got about 5 seconds you run before they fire another one," McBeath said.
The Americans were oldered to pull back.
"When we got back, they said 'Where's Blankey? Blankey Sanders.' They said 'Blankey said he was staying.' And you've heard about a man, shell shocked. 'Said he'd had enough.' Well I was 18 years old. I knew he was an American soldier. Guess it was just a reflex action. I just got up and it took me... I'd count hit, count to 5, hit again. And when I got there, I said 'Blankey I came back to get you'. He said 'I'm gonna stay here. I'm not going.' I said, 'I'm going to carry you out of here. I risked my life. I'm gonna bust you in the face, carry you out of here.' (He said) 'Yeah, I'll believe I'll go'."
They escaped together. McBeath was awarded to Bronze Star.
After the war, he went to college. He became a math teacher and worked his way up to superintendent of Kosciusko Schools, until he retired in 1990.
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