Thursday, August 16, 2012
Living crouched down in foxholes up to his neck, aside from when he jumped up to aim for the enemy, is not something World War II veteran Ellis Ferry, 86, of Soddy-Daisy, has yet forgotten.
Fellow Soddy-Daisy World War II veteran Glenn Davis, 87, still recalls his own battle moments of serving in
the Philippines carrying supplies to the front lines.
To honor them for their bravery, and so that their stories and the memories of their fellow comrades are not forgotten, Ferry and Davis along with 18 other military veterans will receive awards Aug. 19 at 10 a.m. at New Life Baptist Church, 10415 Hamby Road in Soddy-Daisy. Deacon J.R. Stanley, a fellow veteran, will present the awards.
“I lived in foxholes; I spent my 19th birthday in a foxhole,” said Ferry, who served in the 84th Infantry Division from 1944-1946 in mainly Germany, but also in France, Holland and Belgium. “Snow was waist-deep and trees were 100 feet high. Snipers would climb the trees and strap themselves in. When we were in the Ardennes Forest you could not get a vehicle in there. We confiscated mules and used hoods of cars to sled in food and ammunition.”
Eventually rising to the rank of staff sergeant during his service with the U.S. Army infantry, he said the craziest moment during that time was when his fellow sergeant officer stepped on a pad on a porch and his foot was blown off. Ferry also remembers looking down at his feet, seeing 16 holes peeping through the mud and realizing he was standing on a land mine, but he said Polish women working in nearby factories had disarmed it since they wanted the U.S. military to win.
Davis said his duty to his country began in 1943 in basic training in Kessler Field, Miss., at age 17. After training for 11 months he served in combat from Jan. 20, 1944-Nov. 23, 1945 in the Philippines with the 1879th Engineer Aviation Battalion.
“Our job was to keep stuff going to the front lines, running through the jungle while being shot at,” said Davis, adding that he had a 50-caliber machine gun, a 45-caliber pistol and a machete for protection. “I hauled gasoline and food to the front lines. The food hauled was called ‘K rations’ with a can of food, four cigarettes and four crackers with cheese.”
He remembers wading through water in jungle boots since it rained a lot. He and fellow soldiers did their best to avoid snakes and mosquitoes while also hoping to avoid getting jungle fever or being spotted by head hunters, he said.
The desolate conditions were nothing new to Davis, who moved to Soddy-Daisy at age 12 when his birth mother came to pick him up from an orphanage in Atlanta. He said upon first moving to town they lived under a rock overhang on Mowbray Mountain to which they had attached a canvas cover, offering them and their wood stove protection from the elements. Growing up during the Depression, Davis had to begin working as a child to help keep him and his mother alive.