Veteran Salute: Teenage Soldier drafted in high school

Veteran Salute

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita veteran was drafted while he was still in high school, so after his service in WWII, he had to go back to finish school.

After years of not saying much about his service, Don Clemence shared his story with his nephew who documented his journey in the book ‘Teenage Soldier’.

In a short amount of time, he went from Wichita, Kansas to Paris, France.

“He’s quite a writer, and made it really good,” WWII Veteran Don Clemence said.

Gary W. Clark, the author of the book detailing Clemence’s life, had lots of material to work with.

The soldier’s war journey started before he ever graduated East High.

“It was quite a thing, being teenager to learn about all these things,” Clemence said.

One of those things was how to drive, since Clemence applied to be a tank driver.

“I had never driven as car, so I had to learn my car and the tank, I learned how to drive in the tank,” Clemence said.

Shooting was also new to the soldier, he had never fired a gun.

“I did pretty good,” Clemence said. “I got a medal for being such a good shot.”

Clemence eventually landed in Paris, where he was trained as Military Police.

“We would go in groups and go out and hunt the Germans and bring them into our camp,” Clemence said.

He and the other soldiers would then load them up and take them back to Germany.

He said they also protected the radio station at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

He says their biggest job was cleanup detail.

They hauled tanks, and more to an old horse track, and while they recycled some of the materials, they also had to destroy things like ammo.

“We really enjoyed being able to help clean everything up, get rid of the Germans, help clean the city up,” Clemence said.

When he returned to Kansas, his contributions to service were far from over.

“The old B-52 was my favorite, you know, we could change bobble racks and everything in it,” Clemence said.

He took a job at Boeing, and was given some nice send off gifts when he retired 39 years later.

He still enjoys the company of his bride, the two tied the knot 70 years ago.

“We’ve had a wonderful life, we’ve traveled a lot across the United States and Canada,” Clemence said.

Clemence said they don’t have any intention of slowing down anytime soon, there’s still so much to share in their story.

He talked a lot about sight seeing while he was in Paris.

He said the Notre Dame Cathedral is the first place that comes to mind, as it gave him a sense of home, when he attended there with other soldiers.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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