By Jennifer Martin - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Lamar Sibley didn't have to join World War II when he did. He was exempt from the draft, as he helped his father with the family farm in Yazoo County.
"One day I decided to get in. I went to the draft board and said 'Get it over with.' And the lady said, 'What is your name?' She said 'Report back here' on a certain date."
He trained at Camp Shelby and set sail for Europe aboard the Queen Mary.
"I went in as a replacement, replace those men that had been killed or wounded and couldn't serve any more. I moved up as a replacement in Holland, moved up in the middle of the night. Primarily, I was trained on the machine gun and moved into the machine gun squad. Right on the front line. The Germans were right over there."
He was with H-company, 117th Regiment of the 30 Infantry Division.
"It was picked as a top infantry division. They were the best infantry division in the European theater."
The Germans broke through their lines at the Battle of the Bulge, pushing the 30th into Belgium. They set up in the mountains and were finally able to stop the Germans advance. And after a couple of weeks they were able to make up the ground they lost.
"We lost a lot of men. My squad started out about 8 men and before it was over, I think there was two of us."
Among those killed, was one of his best friends, a machine gunner.
"He was standing right beside me. He didn't go anywhere in combat without me right by his side because I was the assistant machine gunner at that time. I had moved all the way from the tail end of the squad to machine gunner when the war ended."
They crossed the Rhine River and took the village of Wesael.
"We thought we were going to Berlin. We're going after Hitler."
They headed toward the Elbe River, arriving April 5th.
"Russians come over the other side of the river. That's where the war ended in Europe. I was on the machine gun right on the front overlooking at night and the Russians come up over on the other side in the dark."
Sibley would stay in Madgeburg, serving essentially as an MP, until it was turned over to the Russians for occupation. Shortly after that, he sailed back to the US, again aboard the Queen Mary.
"We were going back to train, back to the US, preparing for the Pacific war against Japan. The war ended before I got on the boat."
He spent his remaining year in service stateside. He says no one can really know what war is like until they have served.
"It's hell! You do it and you meet some of the best people you'll ever know. "
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