Veterans History Project: Ohmer Grantham - - Jackson, MS

Veterans History Project: Ohmer Grantham

By Jennifer Martin - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Ohmer Grantham grew up on a farm in Magee, as one of 12 children. He had just finished high school when the Army Air Corps came calling.

"They called me up.  They place you where they thought you were suited best."

He had worked around the Jackson Army Airbase, so he already had a feel for what training might entail. Soon after he arrived at in Florida, he was sent off to further his education in Columbia, SC.

"So I went to school for quite awhile."

He rose through the ranks, climbing from a private to a first Sgt.

"And I did not like it because I'm in an office. I want to be with the people. I want to be on the field with the men. So I worked as a 1st Sgt for 4 or 5 months. And I did the job.

So they take me and say 'you don't like this we're going to put you on the field, as an instructor.' So I dressed every morning in my class-A uniform. Go to the classroom, teaching soldiers different things about the army."

From there, he was sent to Georgia.

"12 of us. And we were supposed to form a company. They were supposed to send men into us. And we're supposed to get the best out of this group.  It was a chemical company. We're dealing with all kinds of gas we use in the army. All this stuff is deadly poisonous. Mustard gas, if you get a drop on your body, it would create a blister like if you would scald yourself."

In all the group would consist of 48 men. They went first to Guadalcanal.

"We got situated. And we had to build our own area. Clean it up in the jungle. Build barracks for ourselves. They were actually huts. We weren't in action. They shipped us to Morti, a tiny island in the south Pacific. There was action.  The third night, that's when the action started.

We just got used to it. So they assigned us out to different groups. So I was picked to make the napalm bomb. They carried us out to a big pit. A gravel pit. And they instructed us how to be made. I had about 14 or 15 men that I picked that I had confidence in. And it was dangerous.

You have a 55 gallon drum.  You go to the gas dump. They fill up each drum with 55 gallons of gasoline.  You carry it back to a pit.  You got a platform. You roll the drum on the platform. You add five gallons of napalm powder. It looks like cornmeal.  You cap it up.  You arigate it. You got a pump, you just start blowing air in here. And it's bubbling. And in five minutes, you don't hear any bubbles anymore.  And you've got a 55 gallon drum of napalm jelly."

The jelly would later be pumped into a bomb shell.

"So when this thing hits the ground, it's just like.. It's a ball of fire because it's sticking. And you're clearing the jungles out so you can see."

He served in the Pacific for about a year and a half. After he left the service, he got married and worked for a metal company in Illinois for 8 years before he moved back to Mississippi.

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