What Did You Do In the War, Daddy?

My father entered military service on May 1945, just after V-E Day. It was still the period of segregated units. He didn’t talk much (or at all) about his time in the army. What little I know were stories my father told my mother, and my mother told us, of course, long after the fact and second hand.

One of these piecemeal tales involved the fact that my father was temporarily raised to corporal (or sergeant) for a particular task, because the army wanted someone of that level to do the task. Then, when the task was complete, he was busted back down to private (or corporal), something I gather he was none too happy about. (Allegedly, lowering his rank was done to save money for the government.) If this sounds vague to you, trust me that this is all I’ve got.

A year or so ago, my sister Marcia had contacted the VA and was advised that the records that would have included my father’s records were destroyed in a fire in 1973. We found it strange that he only served 1 1/2 years, rather than 2-4 years, being honorably discharged in December 1946.

The one other aspect of the story is that there was a copy of an article from Ebony magazine from 1945 or 1946 that described “Negro servicemen” fraternizing with the local (white) women in Germany (I think), much to the chagrin of some, that was discovered in my father’s papers (and temporarily misplaced by me. Subsequently, there was a Newsweek article that reported on the Ebony piece.) I have no idea if this had anything to do with my father – it could have been about a friend of his – but straw grasping is what I’ve got.

So, blogiverse, on this Memorial Day, I’m hoping that somebody out there knows something about the military career of one Leslie Harold Green (b. 9/26/1926) from Binghamton, NY. If so, please e-mail me, if you would. Thank you.