Originally created 09/29/05

Ranks of World War II veterans are being thinned significantly



Time is taking a heavy toll of World War II veterans.

Last Friday, four veterans who served with the 20th Field Artillery, 4th Infantry Division gathered for their annual reunion, stopping first for a wreath-laying ceremony at Fort Gordon's Freedom Park.

"We had only six (veterans at the reunion) last year. Since then, we've lost two more," said Roy Howard, the reunion president and an Augusta resident.

The soldiers trained at Camp Gordon from December 1941 to March 1943. Their unit took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

Charles Moody and Dewey Augustine said they remember D-Day well.

"We got there at 10 a.m. on D-Day," Mr. Augustine said. "We hit the beach (as the tide started coming in). We stayed there all day."

Mr. Augustine said he remembers racing Mr. Moody to the sand.

"He beat me to the beach," Mr. Moody said.

"I was scared," Mr. Augustine said, explaining why he ran so fast.

They said the life preservers they wore in the landing were designed to wrap around the chest. Mr. Augustine said it was called it a Mae West. However, because it looked like a belt, the men wore the vest around their waists.

"We looked like a bunch of ducks," Mr. Moody said.

Mr. Howard, who retired from the military after 32 years, said he took a different route in his World War II service.

He trained with the members of the 20th Field Artillery at Camp Gordon. His anti-tank unit was pulled from the 20th and was placed under the 654th Tank Support Battalion, so he was not in the same engagements at Mr. Moody and Mr. Augustine.

Mr. Howard said he served at Fort Gordon seven times during his military career.

During the reunion, the men and their families visited several points of interest at Fort Gordon, including the Signal Corps Museum and a dining facility.

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.