By Jennifer Martin - email
"I was raised on a farm and back thenwhere we lived there was just no hopes, nothing," Carl Gatlin recalled.
He decided he would purse a new life in the Army.
"We was trained as amphibious. We made landings. We were the ones who established beachheads," Gatlin said.
He was training stateside with the 30th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, when the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor.
"They loaded us on the boat and after we got so far out in the ocean, they told us where we were going. That we were going into war and that we were going to land in Africa," Gatlin continued.
They expected that German forces there would already be under French control.
"But just about time they told us to climb down the rope into the landing boat. They opened up with everything they had. They shot at us with big guns, airplanes scraping us, shelling us with everything they had," Gatlin said.
In the confusion, the man running Gatlin's boat missed the landing site in Fedhala and got caught in coral 100 yards from land.
"We were supposed to capture one of them big guns that was shooting at us. When we got to shore, we stopped and dug us a foxhole," Gatlin said.
"I guess about 2 days, the Germans come in with their submarines and sunk all of our ships, so we didn't have no supplies, no clothes, nothing," Gatlin contined. "We went ahead and captured the gun that we were supposed to. Once that happened, then the French joined us."
They chased the Germans to Tunis; then moved on to Sicily and later Italy.
"Anzio was the worst part of the war. Our mission was to cut the highway that goes from Rome to the monestary up on the mountain," Gatlin said. "The Germans had the mountain."
They thought that would trap the Germans.
"But it didn't work that way. We didn't have enough men, and equipment and stuff to cross like we were supposed to," said Gatlin.
The generals realized the Germans could cut off U.S. forces from behind. So they stopped where they were and dug in.
"And we were being fired at 24 hours a day for 6 months. People went crazy; people shot theirselves. They'd do anything to be sent back to the hospital or something like that," Gatlin said.
"If we'd have had to stay a little while longer, I probably would have shot myself, because everybody there was crazy," Gatlin said.
They finally broke out, sledding through the minefields on sheets of steel, tied behind their tanks.
"I believe the Lord just took care of, took care of me," Gatlin added.
They went on to fight through France and Germany and were in Munich when the war ended.
"We had freed several of those Holocaust places where they killed, burned these people. We went in one of these places and everywhere you look there was dead people laying around. And on the inside, where they worked em and where they burned em, there was two rooms in one building: naked people stacked all the way from floor to ceiling, women, kids, waiting to be burned," Gatlin said.
After the war, he got married and settled in Bogue Chitto.
WLBT 3 - Fox 40
715 South Jefferson Street