By Jennifer Martin - email
Doby Gibson was 19 years-old when he was drafted into World War II. He and five of his brothers answered the call to serve.
"My mother had six sons in the service at one time. She had six stars on her front door, all of 'em gone, but they all came home safely," Gibson recalled.
He went to Omaha Beach with the 279th Engineer Combat Battalion, attached to the 3rd Army, 102nd Infantry Division. His job was essentially to help clear a path for the ground troops.
"Clear minefields, build roads, build bridges and get the infantry and tanks across the Roer River. That was the first step for the Americans to get on the soil of Germany, proceed to the Rhine River and then to join the forces of Patton at the Battle of the Bulge".
It was November 1944.
"Every time we would get a bridge built, the Germans would knock it out. It would float down the river and we would have to start all over again. It was dangerous, very dangerous. It was during December, January, snow on the ground, everything frozen. And we had to dig foxholes," Gibson said.
"A buddy of mine, we shared the foxhole. Well, you take turns watching at night with a 50 caliber machine gun. Well, his turn would come and I would go up. When it was my turn to go to sleep, he stayed up. But I woke up, he was in the foxhole with me. So that ended our relationship," Gibson added.
While finally crossing the Roer in February 1945, Gibson was hurt. "A shell burst near me, burst in my left ear drum and I was taken to the 97th General Hospital in Frankfort, Germany for 19 days, then I returned to my original outfit. Wanted to get back with the boys. Our job then was to clear the minefields, go around the dead Germans with the mines and rope off the road, 16 foot wide, so the Army could get through with their tanks," Gibson said.
They also had to help draw the Germans out from their bunkers, often called pillboxes. "The Americans would flush the Germans out of the pillboxes. The Germans would retreat, push the Americans back and they would get back in those same pillboxes, had to get them out again. Then what the Americans started doing, they started putting dynamite in those pillboxes. We had to do this at night, put dynamite all round, inside the pillboxes. Then the ammunition would come along and blow them up and the Germans would have no place to retreat," Gibson added.
After the war ended, gibson stayed with occupation troops, rebuilding roads and bridges. And after 22 months in europe, he finally was able to return home.
"The first thing I did when I got off the boat, was to kiss the ground," Gibson recalled.
He held a variety of jobs , then settled in at the post office for 30 years until he retired in 1984.
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