First Sergeant sends word that we will hike about ten miles so
everyone should take their boots off, change socks, etc. Some of us
had not had our boots off since a few days before Christmas. When I
took my boots off, my feet were black. They immediately began to
swell. They swelled so fast my toes almost disappeared.
A lieutenant walked by and saw my feet and said, "My God!" He sat
down and took his over boots off (only officers had them) and said.
"Quick, get these boots on." He said, "The aid station is leaving on
a truck. Get down there quick!" I stumbled down there and the truck
was pulling out. I climbed on the truck. The driver didn't know I
was on there.
I'll make the rest of my story brief. I ended up in a hospital in
England until April. On my way back to my outfit, President F. D. R.
died. The war ended. The 508 went to Frankfurt as Honor Guards for
S. H. A. E. F. Headquarters.
I got promoted to Staff Sergeant and was awarded the Bronze Star and
the Purple Heart.
I came home with the 82nd Division. We marched eighty-one blocks
down Fifth Avenue in a tickertape parade. We were led by our hero,
General Jim Gavin!
Staff Sergeant Jesse Brockley Smith
508th Parachute Infantry Regiment