Staff photo by Carol Keefer
RIMROCK's Dewey Bishop holds a picture from World War II that shows him (left) and brother Floyd, taken close to the war's end near the Elbe River.
Two of the farm boys, he being one, served in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany; a third brother in Italy. Luckily all three young men came home, but to this day, Dewey still remembers. He says the nightmares aren't like they were once upon a time, but the horrific memory lives on of those who survived and those who didn't.
"There's isn't a day goes by that I don't think about what happened."
In his own words . . .
June and July, 1944
"I lied about my age. I told the U.S. Army I was 18. I was shipped to England in March of 1944 joining the 30th Infantry Division, 119th Regiment Anti-tank Company. We landed in Normandy on D-Day plus three."
(Ground troops, like his, fought their way toward St. Lo and Vire, France under constant artillery fire, complicated by the impassable hedge rows along the French countryside).
"About the first of July, I was standing on the roadside. My brother Floyd was in the 234th Combat Engineering Division. I knew his outfit and told my squad leader my brother was close. My platoon leader, Lt. Stone, heard me talking. He and his jeep driver left and came back with my brother in his jeep. I almost cried. He didn't know that I was in Normandy. The lieutenant said there is a barn full of wine and cider. 'You have one hour; drink all you can. Take a guard with you.'"
(About a month into the fighting, the Americans began saturation fighting along the front lines where Dewey was located. They hit not only Germans but Americans as well. Dewey said it knocked out their truck, their big gun, killed the truck driver and bazooka loader 10 feet from where he stood. The bombing lasted from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It was an extremely frightening time, he remarked.)
"I gave up because I thought I was dead."
July through September, 1944
"After the break out at St. Lo, we continued through France and then through Belgium and Holland almost without stopping, about 300 miles. There was no gas, so we had to wait. Around Mortain, France the Germans tried to break through to the sea surrounding much of our division for two straight weeks. They finally gave up. There was lots of fighting around Aachen, Germany."
(His outfit attempted to take that town during a time of intense house-to-house fighting.)
November, December, 1944
"There was lots of talk about going home by Christmas; the war would be over. They would put our names in a hat. If they drew your name, you got R&R to Paris for three days. I was lucky; my buddy and I were selected.
"Around Dec. 1, we went to Paris and had one hell of a good time. We didn't want to go back to the front, but we did.
"The Germans broke through on Dec. 16 in Belgium, the Battle of Bulge. Because of the intensity of fighting and the snow no one went home. We went down there, moved into s little town at night by the name of Stoumont in Belgium. The next morning, the Germans kicked us out. My sergeant said, "Bishop get your bazooka and loader and go up there — get in those pines. When the tanks come around the bend, shoot them in the side.
"We went. I told my buddy we are dead; he agreed."
(Bishop explained that their equipment couldn't touch the powerful German tanks and they were far outnumbered).
"We could hear the tanks coming, the big Royal Tiger German tanks. We then heard our sergeant holler, 'Come back; we are leaving.' General Leland Hobbs, commander of the 30th Division was there with three big guns to take our place. When the tanks came around that bend, his guns knocked out three of them and blocked the road— stopped that spearhead cold.
"Gen. Hobbs saved my life that day.
"We pushed on to a town called Malmandy and found 85 dead American soldiers. The Germans had machine gunned them down as prisoners of war. After that no Americans who heard about it surrendered."
"We went on to a town called St. Vith where we had an artillery observer, Bill Clayborn, from Broken Bow, Okla., who became a good friend. He was good at his job but was hit while observing. We finally went back up north to the Roer River."
"We crossed the Roer River. The next day I looked up and my brother Floyd was coming up the road to see me. A reporter approached asking for news. He later published something about the brothers in combat at the Roer River in the Phoenix Gazette."
March - May, 1945
"The next time we saw each other, my brother gave me a pair of combat boots. Our division all wore canvas leggings. We crossed the Rhine River and kept going till we reached the Elbe River. We had to stop; that is where we met the Russians and the war for us ended (in Germany, May, 1945)."
Dewey and Floyd Bishop met during the war for the last time in Magedburg, Germany, on the Elbe River, 50 miles from Berlin. Neither boy saw their third brother Bill, who was with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy, until after the war ended. All three were honorably discharged and returned to Gilbert.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service — a tribute to those from the Revolutionary War to the War in Iraq. The traditional day of observance is May 30 (today) but now commonly observed in the United States the last Monday in May.