Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Edward Wallace Hopkins. Edward served during World War II from 1943 to 1946.
Edward was working at a company that made airplane engines when he got his draft notice. He received a deferment since the work he was doing was crucial to the war effort, but six months later he got another notice. He said he could have obtained another deferment, but felt it would be wrong since he was the only able-bodied resident in his hometown. In early 1943 he was inducted and sent to Camp Croft, South Carolina. Edward had previous military experience in the reserves, so he became a squad leader within three weeks of starting his training. While at Camp Croft, Edward trained to become a communications officer, learning how to operate radios. Edward later went to noncommissioned officer school and was transferred to Camp Blanding, Florida. At Camp Blanding he was responsible for training future soldiers and teaching them about communications.
In October 1944, Edward was sent to Europe, first stopping in England then going to France. He was assigned to the 411th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Gun Battalion. Edward and a team of men operated a 90-millimeter cannon that was used for shooting down airplanes. He did not really have any training on this cannon, so he had to learn from the other soldiers. On one occasion, they were protecting an emergency Air Force base when a B-17 crash landed and exploded right where they were previously positioned.
After the war was over, Edward spent some time at Dachau Concentration Camp after it had already been liberated. He was responsible for overseeing the German soldiers who were cleaning up the camp. Sometimes German civilians were brought in the camp so that they could see what had been done in them. Edward later went to a university for soldiers that had been set up in France and took a couple classes. He then returned home and was discharged in 1946. Once back, Edward decided to finish up his college degree.
More of his story can be found at http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.00001/.
Thank you for your service, Edward!
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Graphic designer: Kimber Garland
Fact checker: Anthony Blasi
Editor: Kaylee Hogsed