By Jennifer Martin
Hugh Wardlaw was a senior in high school when he joined the National Guard in 1936. He stayed with the military as he went to college, honing his skills with the ROTC.
He started with the 31st Infantry Division. In 1943, he was transferred to the 3rd Infantry and sent to northern Italy.
"We broke out of the beach head at Anzio and then we fought in Rome and captured it."
From Rome, he went on to France, working to clear out occupational forces. The locals were thrilled to see allied troops.
"They welcomed us real well as we were going in."
The troops moved north through France, into Germany and eventually Austria.
"It was a heavy duty job. We had heavy casualties."
As the fight in the European Theater drew to a close, Wardlaw and his fellow soldiers began liberating concentration camps, like the one at Dachau.
"It was a terrible place to have to be. It was poor feeding and just a heck of a place to be. It was bad."
As horrible as his surroundings were, he knew they were doing important work.
"You felt you were really accomplished something at the time."
After the war ended, Wardlaw went back to Mississippi State and got his degree in mechanical engineering.
He stayed in the Reserves until 1978, when he retired as a colonel.
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