Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

21 Dec 1944





Miles Interviews Iowa General Near Front

(Iowa Daily Press War Correspondent)

With the Fifth Army in Italy (IDPA) -- Maj. Gen. Vernon E. Prichard, commanding the 1st armored division of the fifth army, who was born in Ottumwa, Iowa, gave me a warm reception when we met for the first time at his headquarters.

The general, a tall, lithe figure in his early fifties without a gray hair among the heavy black ones above his kind but determined face, just had returned from visiting forward command posts.

Rival artillery roared angrily and some American planes b-r-r-r-r-ed in the sky, clear for the first time in many days. The aircraft got more human looks from the ground than usual because enemy bombers had strafed some of our sectors the night before.

"It's tough due to the mid and considerable jerry strength but things seem to be going all right up front," the general said.

Time and again our conversation was interrupted by officers. Twice he excused himself to go into a huddle with his chief of staff and a lieutenant colonel before a huge restricted war map.

The general seemed to welcome suggestions from his assistants and glad to discuss matters at length. His quick thinking and incisive manner of speaking were impressive. His smile was that of a man, who, though deeply concerned, was confident of his ability and other forces of the 5th army yo win objectives.

The "information and education" sector of his division nearby was interesting. The captain in charge explained the 5 principal subjects of the program designed for enlisted men were:

Why we fight and what we are fighting for; know and have knowledge of your enemy; know your allies; have pride in your uniform; and know the news and its significance.

Every medium the captain, a lieutenant and 2 privates can devise to inform and enlighten the troops in these fields is utilized -- newspapers, motion pictures, radio broadcasts, bulletins, clippings, books.

Even men in the front lines, when not actually under fire or firing are furnished with sheets containing news from all over the world. They read them avidly.

"For them to know what's going on definitely helps their morale," the captain said.

He disagrees with those who say the average GI doesn't know why America is at war.

"Most of them can't or won't take time to talk prettily," he said. "But I know what they like to read and see."

The captain helps soldiers studying courses to better equip them for civilian live. He urges all who are not studying to do so.

"Vastly more than preparing for the future than are messing up the present when they are off duty," he declared.

He said General Prichard supports this program.

The general, other officers and I ate breaded frankfurters at noon chow.

We jolted over rough trails -- never good and now torn with shell bursts and slashed with mountain streams. One road, which hardly could be worse, was flanked with signs, "Edwards Boulevard," places by an engineer outfit which had worked on it.

Slogging through mud to an educational movie were 2 doughboys who smiled cheerily when I spoke.

Pvt. Bernard Bolte, Tripoli, Iowa, was 1 of them.

Our jeep passed a jeep named "Honey Bun" and another dubbed "Hole Card."

The day before I met Lt. Stanley Wood, Santa Rosa, Cal., who was born in Mystic.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, December 21, 1944

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