I had just gotten out of school and was married with two kids. I was getting to the age where I could enjoy life and then WWII came and took that away.
Originally I was supposed to be a ‘combat engineer’ building bridges and things for the troops. But that didn’t work out so I ended up being trained as a ‘combat driver’ who supplied the troops on the front lines. I was part of an all-black battalion with 10,000 soldiers and two truck drivers.
I wasn’t really scared until my ship got near England. I remember that our boat docked in the twilight in Glasgow, Scotland. From there I went to London where there were constant ‘buzz bomb’ attacks. Buzz bombs were jet-powered cruise missiles that sounded like diesel engines in the sky. The jet engine would propel the missile over the English Channel and then the engine would burn out and the missile would silently glide into its target. We had anti-missile guns that would shoot down 99 out of a 100 but every once in a while one would get through and kill a lot of people in the street, in buses, wherever. I lived near a subway and whenever I heard the buzzing I would run down into the subway station for shelter. One time I ended up in the subway wearing nothing but my underwear. Another time I had just gotten out of the mess hall when one of the buzz bombs hit it and blew it to shreds.
From London I went to Paris and finally into Germany. Ultimately I ended up supplying Patton’s men with provisions. Patton was the best General and the bravest man I ever knew. In the army they called him ‘old blood and guts’ because he never put troops in danger that he wasn’t in himself. He was on the front line every single time.
Everything in the army was black and white. All the fighting was for the whites and all the dirty work was for the blacks. As a combat driver I handled a little bit of everything – from supplying the food and gas to taking the troops in and out. They gave me a ticket and a truck load of something and I had to find my way around. The key was to not go too far when you didn’t know where you were going. I followed instructions carefully and I went and came back as prescribed.
A lot of time I had to travel alone, which was scary because I didn’t have any support – I was the driver and gunman at the same time. There were Nazis everywhere and you couldn’t give them any type of edge or you’d end up dead. I dimmed the lights on the trucks and also put wet bags near the tires to catch the dust, otherwise the Nazis would see the lights or dust and shoot me.
Sometimes I’d be driving on a mission and a French person would call me to the side of the road and tell me a Nazi was hiding nearby. When they told me this I had to hunt the Nazis down, so I did a lot of shooting. I can’t even remember them all. When you are in war you just deal with the problems as they arise and try to survive.
The French loved the American’s. They were good to us and we were good to them, but they were terrified of Hitler. Hitler was some kind of nasty! I remember he had his troops cut off the French boys’ right hands so they could never use a gun against him. He didn’t do nothing good.
While I was in the war I was always ‘on the go’ so there were never any hot meals. I ended up eating nothing but cold cheese for weeks on end and that eventually gave me stomach problems. I started going to the VA in 1946 and for over seventy years the VA has been very helpful in addressing my problems.
The VA has gotten much better over the years. Now my lady doctor is Spanish. Whenever I go to the VA she tells the other patients that I’m a hundred years old and that she has to take me first. She knows that at my age I can’t sit around for too long. But aside from the occasional stomach issue I do very well for my age. A lot of my doctors tell me I am healthier than they are!
'Goose Chronicles Outtakes:
“What is the secret to living so long?”
“There are two things I suppose… First of all I am a very loving person. With everything I have endured there is still no hatred in my heart. To hate others means to hate God, so I love everyone. The second thing – it might be good and it might be bad – is that I have no patience. If I see you doing your best I will help you. But if somebody is not doing their best I have no patience for them.”
“What advice would you give to younger people?”
“I can’t give nobody no advice. I don’t waste my time on that. I only have a little bit of time left so I can’t waste it. Family or nobody. People do what they want to do, you can’t change them. The problem is that God gives people brains but they don’t use them. There should be more people trying to figure out what’s going on. I liked speaking with you because you asked questions. You wanted to find out what I knew. Some things I told you might be right and some might be wrong. It’s up to you to use your brain to figure out which is which.”
“How has the world changed in 100 years?”
“People talk about the changes in the world but the world has nothing to do with it. The world has stayed the same it’s the people that have changed. What happened is a loss of respect. Back in the day I was taught the value of respect. If you did something wrong you’d catch a beating. But you wouldn’t run home and tell your parents you got beat, you’d beg the person who beat you not to tell your parents so you wouldn’t get a second beating when you got home! When I first came to NYC I didn’t need to lock my door. Nobody would bother me for nothing. I used to go into the park and fall asleep listening to the radio but I can’t do that anymore.”
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