Country Boy Can Survive
By James K. Richardson
Co B, 272nd Inf Rgt
James K. Richardson
3 years after discharge
I was raised on a farm in
northeast Texas, and about the coldest the weather ever got in midwinter was 4
or 5 degrees above zero, and that was rare. It was even more moderate in
Camp Shelby, Mississippi. I was not quite prepared for our visit to
Europe. We arrived in LeHavre, France in midwinter, and it was as cold
as a well digger’s foot in the Klondike...
The roads we traveled on, in our "covered wagons"
(trucks with a cargo bed covered with tarp) had snow on each side of the road
so high that we could scarcely see the scenery of France. But that was
nothing, compared to Belgium. I was assigned to B Company, 272nd
Infantry Regiment. We
were traveling toward our spot on the front lines when our convoy stopped for
a break and a short meal. A friend of mine, PFC Earl J. Stutsman, and I
decided it was an opportune time to make a pit stop to answer nature's call.
We dashed over into a wooded area, where we stumbled upon one of the many
casualties of the war, a dead German soldier.
We knew we didn't have a lot of time to browse around there, so we
picked a nice secluded spot to take care of business. When I tried to
put my trousers back up, I found that my fingers were so frozen they
wouldn’t work, and I couldn’t button my fly, nor the top button. I
was fumbling around, when Stutsman came over and asked me what was wrong.
He almost fell over laughing!
I said, "Don't stand there laughing like a jackass, help me!"
He said, "Sarge, you know you’ve asked me to do lots of things that I
gladly did, but I don't know about this...
What if some of the other guys show up?" After helping me, I
told him, "If you ever tell anyone about this, I will have you busted
below Private." His answer was: "I won't, Sarge, not 'til we
get to the truck."
He never mentioned it again, until I brought it up when I visited him
at his home in Greenwood, LA, years later. Sad to say, "Stuts"
passed away in 2000, but I will never forget this unforgettable character, nor
the experience in Belgium.