WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Right after his 18th birthday, one WWII veteran says he just knew he would be going to war.
He was right, and in no time, he was headed to the Army.
Bill Hendrix remembers what the 12 day trip to WWII was like.
He said eight of those days were in severe storms in the Atlantic.
“I told someone I didn’t know they could stack water that high,” WWII Veteran Bill Hendrix said. “The waves were so terribly high.”
Hendrix said after that rocky voyage, the company he was part of arrived in England, where they set up a shop.
“What it was, was a tire recapping and rebuilding shop,” Hendrix said.
He said the war sure took a toll on tires.
“Some of them had big holes in them. Some of them had one big hole all the way, the sidewall blown out of it. One of them would have a tire blew in two,” Hendrix said.
He said the soldiers also watched so many bombers take off.
“All loaded with bombs, all loaded with crews, they knew what was in them, and that was the day they bombed and dropped troops,” Hendrix said.
He said they wondered how some of the aircraft even stayed in the air.
“We saw many planes come in with big holes in the side, part of the plane tore off, like part of a wing or part of the tail,” Hendrix said.
He said although he didn’t see anywhere near the worst of the war, the soldiers knew they were doing their part in the tire shop to keep the war effort rolling.
When the action ended in the European theater, they were told to pack up their equipment and prepare it for shipment overseas to the Pacific…
“Because the war was still going there,” Hendrix said.
The soldiers were given a thirty-day leave and before they could return…
“The war was over in the Pacific so that immediately stopped our orders from going over there,” Hendrix said.
He said his company was disbanded and the men were sent all over.
“Our main duty was the processing of soldiers, coming back in from the Asian theater,” Hendrix said.
It took months to get their comrades back to the U.S.
“It was all part of the war effort,” Hendrix said.
An effort that started out for him with some rough sailing.
“I wondered how that boat was going to stay on top, but it did,” Hendrix said.
He said the voyage home from the war was the best ever.
“It was a joy,” Hendrix said. “I was glad to get home.”
Hendrix said when he finally returned home, he told his parents the military gave him a better life than he was accustomed to.
He said the service gave him decent clothes and shoes and even provided entertainment!
Hendrix said he had it better in the Army since he was used to living in the Great Depression, where so many had so little.
His father also served in WWI.