546th Ordnance Maintenance Company
Born June 10, 1924, in Dora, Alabama
WWII service: 1943 -1946
Flying model airplanes throughout childhood inspired Harold’s dream to join the Air Force. But during aircraft mechanic training, the 19-year-old was drafted into the Army. Soon he was in Europe helping to shell enemy planes by maintaining the instruments measuring their flying altitude.
Harold’s company could maintain “everything from a pocket watch to the largest tanks.” But arriving on Utah Beach, he discovered they would have to fight and survive just like the infantry. “The Germans had just about every inch of that beach covered in machine gun fire. You could see it—bullets hitting all around you in the sand.” Even decades later, his voice cracked recalling horrors of that day, of lost comrades and carnage: “We sacrificed everything we had to take that beach.”
Harold survived the Battle of the Bulge, too—a system of rotating and drying socks helped him avoid the frostbite that plagued so many—yet the war left invisible scars: “Things like we went through are just things you don’t forget.”
Harold arrived home by ship, and was “sure happy to see the Statue of Liberty.” He rekindled his aviation career, which led to engineering work for Boeing—even for the 1969 Apollo 11 mission —and learning to fly solo.