Fighting the good fight

Published 11:10 am Thursday, July 8, 2010

Clarence Truman Joyner’s memories of serving in the Army during World War II haven’t faded.

“It’s so much that went on, you could think about it tonight and it’s just as clear as day,” Joyner said.

When the 90-year-old Franklin resident was drafted at age 24, he left behind his wife and their 3-year-old daughter.

“It made you think a lot,” Joyner said. “Not knowing or having any idea whether you’ll ever get back or not.”

He served in the Army under the legendary Gen. George Patton, who made sure the troops had adequate supplies, Joyner said.

“He kept us in shape, and he was a good man,” Joyner said. “When he told you something, you could depend on it.”

Joyner said the war “was a very hard time” for soldiers, who dodged attacks from German Army snipers while trying to find a warm place to rest.

“You might be lucky enough to be in a barn or a house where you could get some heat,” he said.

In January 1945, Joyner and the rest of his infantry division went on an invasion of France, but a combination of rain, snow and sleet left the troops stranded in Germany for five days.

“We had a total of 245 in the company,” he recalled, but when support was able to get to the troops, 65, including Joyner, couldn’t get out of the trench on their own.

Joyner, who was suffering from frostbite, was taken to a field hospital and then sent to a hospital in Metz, France, for treatment.

“I stayed there nine weeks, and during that time I was treated with hot ice and penicillin,” he said. “They were good to me. I don’t think I could get any better care.”

Doctors were concerned that Joyner’s left leg may have to be amputated. One doctor, Joyner said, “smoked a cigar, and he would come in there three or four times a day and stick that cigar in the bottom of my foot to see if the nerves were healed.”

Just as doctors were preparing to send Joyner to England, which was a sign that amputation was coming, he regained feeling in his left leg.

“I was some kind of glad about it,” he said.

After the war ended, Joyner was stationed in Austria to secure a steel mill. While there, he stayed in a castle.

“Those were the good times,” he said, but not as good as the view of the Statue of Liberty a few months later when he came home.

“I would hate to have to go through it again,” Joyner said of the war.

“He was very fortunate,” said Joyner’s wife of 70 years, Peggy. “He had buddies getting shot down around him.” ←