Monday, May 14, 2012

Lee Earl Hefley in WWII

Lee Earl Hefley, Paratrooper WWII

Lee Earl Hefley enlisted in WWII on 13 June 1944 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas at the age of 27. He was married with one son 21 months old and his wife Irene was three months pregnant. Lee enlisted because he "wanted to help save his country." Lee was colorblind but passed anyway. He joined the paratroopers because they made $50 more a month. Lee came home on a surprise leave in December of 1944 and his new daughter was born that night.

Lee went to basic training and was assigned to Co. A, 156 Battalion, 92d, Training Regiment, Infantry Replacement Training Center at Camp Hood, Texas.
On January 24, 1945 Lee was in paratrooper training at Fort Benning, Georgia in the 2d Prcht Tng Regt.

"As the story goes," Lee's paratrooper group was putting on an exhibition for the president’s wife. The pilot let them off on the wrong side of the mountain. Lee's parachute caught in a tree and the jar made him go blind. He was in the hospital in Georgia where a young Doctor operated on his eyes and he got his sight back. His wife Irene never knew anything about this until he came home. For years he had to wear dark green glasses.

(I haven't been able to verify any information on this, I wrote for Lee's military record and it was destroyed in the fire.)

After that Lee transferred to training for Remote Control Turret Mechanic at Lowry Field, Denver, Colorado. His training was from 16 May 45 - 12 Sept 45. A description of the duties of a Remote Control Turret Mechanic can be found at The Military Yearbook.
The family says Lee worked for the rescue crew in the Everglades of Florida. They would go into the swamps and pick up planes and people after a crash. On one run into the swamp, Lee got to the plane and it was a relative. It may have been one of Henry Simpsons sons. Henry was a brother to Lee's Mother Grace Irene Simpson Hefley.

I have a letter written to Lee from his sister dated 15 December 1945 and addressed to Cpl Lee E Hefley 37745943, Sqd C box 198, Tyndell Field, Panama City, Florida. So he must have served time there.

Lee Hefley separated from the military on 4 June 1946 from Sep Cen CP Shelby Mississippi. He was in the 308th AAFBU. (Army Air Forces Base Unit)
He received ATO med: good cond med; World War II Vic med. He served 1 year 11 months and 22 days with no foreign service. His highest grade was Corporal.

I searched for infomation on the medals that Lee received and did not find much. I did find pictures on this genealogy site at the bottom of the page. It also shows the lapel pin Lee was issued. I don't know what happened to these medals as I have not seen them. I hope someone in the family still has them.

I am very proud of my grandfather Lee Hefley and his service to his county. His son (my father) joined the military and made a career out of it. Proud to be a military BRAT.

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