Interview with Ralph Deason

April 27, 2010

Ralph Deason was born May 18, 1922 to Pearl Weeks Deason and John Bert Deason. He is my grandfather. He fought in World War II, serving in the European Theater of Operations (E.T.O.) as a technical sergeant.

Before I get to World War II, I’d like to give more background on my grandfather. He grew up during the Great Depression. He went to school but had to quit when he was in the sixth grade to help his father run the farm. Farming was the family’s means of survival and that’s what he did until he was around nineteen or twenty. Then in 1942 he was drafted into the army.

When he was drafted, he was sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. There the division that he was going to be a part of was being formed. His division was the 30th infantry division. Its nickname was Old Hickory, and was originally a National Guard unit that served in World War One and was reformed for World War II. He was placed in the 117th infantry regiment, in the Anti-Tank company. His company’s main combat job was to destroy enemy tanks. He was trained as a cook and worked as one during training and the time prior to combat. But in combat he fought as a normal solider. During his training the division was moved around to many different training sites. First was Fort Jackson, then Camp Croft and Camp Blanding on Christmas. After their time there they went to Fort Bening, Georgia for two months then back to Blanding. Then in 1943 they went to Camp Adaberry, Indiana. Soon it was 1944 and he was in Camp Mile Standish. They only spent twelve days there and were sent to Boston Harbor.
In Boston Harbor, on February 12, 1944, they boarded a troop ship and were off to Europe. After fourteen days they landed in Liverpool, England. From there they were transported to Petworth, England which is about fifty miles from London. Then from there they were transported to St. Alban where they trained for the invasion of German occupied France.

D-Day came and Mr. Deason’s division was not part of the initial assault, but was sent to Omaha Beach about twelve days afterwards to relieve the 1st Infantry Division. After taking over for the 1st the 30th Division found themselves in the battle of Mortain or better known as the Falise Gap or Falise Pocket. The 30th Infantry Division was at the forefront of the fighting in many key places in the European Theater of Operations.

My grandfather was in five major battles of World War II, including Mortain, St. Lo, and the Battle of the Bulge. My grandfather told me the Battle of the Bulge was the hardest battle they were in. He told me how some soldiers froze in the snow and how frostbite and trench foot were just as rough on them as the Germans were. During the Bulge, the 30th Division was placed under the command of George S. Patton and held the town of Malmedy, Belgium. They also helped fight to save the surrounded 101st Airborne Division from Bastone.
My grandfather’s Division fought all the way up to the Elbe River not far from Berlin. They were told to hold at the river and let the Russians take Berlin. While at the river hundreds of thousands of German soldiers swam across the river to surrender to them rather than suffer at the hands of the Russians.  The war in the European theatre was over and the 30th Infantry Division had been right in the thick of it, earning them selves the nickname “The Work Horse of the Western Front”.

Following the conclusion of the war, my grandfather came home and worked for himself. He farmed, drove a dump truck and raised cattle. He married my grandmother, Lois Deason, and raised a family with four children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He is a great hard working man and the hero of my life. I will spend my life trying to be as great a man as he is.

-Jacob Deason-

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