By Jennifer Martin
The draft for World War II began a lifetime of service for Harold Crain.
"It was a routine thing. All of my friends were a little bit older and had already been drafted or they had volunteered. And I honestly didn't want to be left out. So when I got the draft card, I was ready."
He trained in tanks then intelligence reconnaissance. He went first to Europe then the Aleutian Islands in the Pacific, doing administrative work. He didn't see any action in the war, but did serve for a year in the occupation of Japan.
After that he stayed in service with the national guard until he was sent to the Korean War. He started as a warrant officer, but received a field commission to become a platoon leader. He was with A-Company, 245th Tank Battalion, 45th Infantry Division when he received his purple heart.
"It was a five hour attack. We were supposed to conduct as secondary attack. My tank was hit. When you're in command, you stay in charge. The tank was damaged. The driver was still operable. We had him back the tank next to my platoon sergeant's tank and he took that tank back to the assembly area and I took over his tank. We were well outnumbered. A lot of enemy casualties. We did not lose a man. We won that particular objective."
When his tank was damaged, Crain sustained facial injuries and his hearing was affected. After the fighting ended in Korea, he went back in the national guard full time, appreciating his growing role as an officer.
"It was challenging and it was the fact that you (had) the chance to lead. To be a leader, a manager, and a trainer... to train people how to live in a combat situation."
He never forgot the value of the enlisted men.
"The most important man in the United States Army is the one who has eye to eye contact with the enemy. All the rest of us support that fellow."
He stayed with the Guard until 1975.
"One of the best assignments I had stateside: I was selected to be part of a Training Doctrine & Development Committee. We were re-doing the training for ground combat troops. We helped create the policies now being used to conserve life."
His later professional life included time in the Reserves, as State Director of Emergency Management, and as Chief Investigator at the Attorney General's office. For the past 12 years, he has worked part time as a Veterans Service Officer in Rankin County.
"Our nation has a wonderful veteran affairs system and if a person has a need he can get it. They don't spare anything, they get the very best for our veterans. This is a great nation. It's worth fighting for."
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