Remembering my father-in-law, Russel Hogue, from a book written by his daughter, Elizabeth Hogue Bell, titled “My Dad – No Ordinary Man” 2007.
I really had no idea of the extent of dad’s service in World War II. The hardship and the danger and the courage required as he served; he really never discussed. We just knew he served in World War II. It wasn’t until my husband, Dwayne, and brother, David, began traveling to his war reunions that we begin to learn about his experiences. While traveling to one of those reunions dad was in the airport in Dallas and ran into one of our friends. The friend was introduced to dad and told where we were going. The friend asked dad what he did in the war? “I drove a 2 1/2 ton truck full of 5 gallon gas cans to refuel tanks most of the time,” was dad’s humble reply. The friend quickly remarked, ”There’s a country song out there called, “What were you thinking?” Dad’s quick comment was, “Yeah, I didn’t have many hitchhikers.” I think that was the first time we realized how dangerous his job was! A stray bullet or tracer around, and kaboom!
We had never known or realized that history reveals dad’s unit, The Third Armored Division, did more to win the war in Europe for the allies than perhaps any other unit. They have records for many firsts among US forces, including the first across Hitler’s famous Siegfried line, and the first to capture a major German city, Cologne. They were in the Battle of the Bulge and in some of the fiercest fighting of the war after crossing into Europe at Normandy.
Dad never made a big deal out of carrying a Thompson sub machine gun and driving a truck full of gas and support of tanks for 18 months in one of the most dangerous times and places in history, to defend our country and freedom for the world. In mud, rain, snow, daylight, and dark he served, many nights sleeping under that same truck.
After attending a few reunions with Dad, and having the light of these truths slowly dawn on him, my husband once asked Dad, ”Why have you never told this to me or any of our family?” His humble reply was,”It’s something I never figured people were much interested in, and it’s something we’d just soon forget.” Yet when at these reunions, with men who had experienced the same things, they would talk, laugh, love, and remember the bond that extreme adversity, courage honorable conduct, and sacrifice mold. They seem to know the value of each person. They seemed to love good and hate evil, and see it a little clearer that people do today. They loved freedom and appreciated it more, having seen the cost. This in small part is the fabric of what is been called the ”Greatest Generation.” This was my dad’s generation, and in our eyes he was one of its most noble parts.
It was so fitting that his funeral service was held on the anniversary of D-Day. Dad participated in the build up and crossed the Normandy beaches a few days following D-day to fight the rest of the war, freeing Europe and the world from tyranny.
Dad’s service began because he was drafted into the army on March 5, 1943. He could tell you quickly from memory that he was in the service for two years, nine months and twenty-seven days. He was, however, offered a deferral to stay out of the war due to his job making torpedo triggers. What a man! He could have taken an easy way out but no, to him it was an honor to fight for his country. Yes, my dad was a noble part of a great generation.