Billy Clements was a Combat Engineer

1942 recruitment poster for the Army Corps of Engineers

1942 recruitment poster for the Army Corps of Engineers

On August 2, 1942, William A. “Billy” Clements enlisted “for the duration of the War.”  He was inducted first as an Army private at Fort Mcpherson, Atlanta, GA.

A line of soldiers during induction at Ft. McPherson, Atlanta, GA, 1942.

A line of soldiers during induction at Ft. McPherson, Atlanta, GA, 1942.

Billy had four years of college education, and after basic training it was decided his “civilian occupation, training and background were more suited for conversion to Specialist use in the Engineer Corps than in other branches of the services…The army engineer is a builder as well as a combat soldier.”  It was in 1942 that the construction of domestic military bases reached its peak.

On October 5, 1942 The Atlanta Constitution reported William A. Clements had been transferred to the Engineer Replacement Training Center at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.

William A. "Billy" Clements was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood in October of 1942.

William A. “Billy” Clements was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood in October of 1942.

The Atlanta Constitution
October 5, 1942

The Army and Navy

Fourteen Georgians are now stationed at the Engineer Replacement Training Center at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
    From Atlanta are Herbert C. Johnson, of 476 Lytle avenue, S. E. and James B. Owen, of 1189 McLendon avenue.
    Other Georgians are: Earl L. Nash, of 3787 Highland avenue, Hapeville: Thomas B. Jordan, of Greenville; Roy W. Smith, of Jonesboro; Philip E. Williams, of Colquitt; Glen B. Phillips, of Forest Park; James E. Terrell, of North Roswell; Charles A Lindsey, of Dalton; Arthur L. Long, of Woodbury; Robert F. Meek, of Smyrna; William A. Clements, of Ray City; John V. Benson, of Nelson, and Frank W. McCrae, of Raleigh.

New arrivals at Fort Leonard Wood were greeted with a pamphlet, Introdution to ERTC Fort Leonard Wood,  which provided an orientation to the base and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The prime reason for your being here is to be trained as a combat engineer.  You will learn the use of hand and motorized tools, to construct fixed and floating bridges, to build roads and obstacles, to execute demolitions, and to protect yourself against  enemy attacks.

WW II era yearbook, Fort Leonard Wood

After the War, Billy Clements returned to Ray City, GA. He later became the owner of the Victory Soda Shop, Ray City’s iconic landmark of World War II.

Billy Clements (left) on Main Street outside the Victory Soda Shop after the Ray City fire of March 1969. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Billy Clements (left) after the Ray City fire of March 1969. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

 
 

The Berrien Press 
February 2006

The Berrien Press — William A. “Billy” Clements, 88, of Ray City died February 2, 2006 at Louis Smith Memorial Hospital in Lakeland. Born October 3, 1917 in Berrien County to the late William A. and Mary  Elizabeth Clements, he owned and operated Victory Soda Shop in Ray City for 33 years. He served in the U.S. Army during WWII and was a member of First  Baptist Church in Ray City. Survivors include his wife, Helen Wood Clements of Ray City; three sons, Richard Clements of Chula, David Clements of Ray City, Chris Clements of Virginia Beach, VA; two sisters, Ann Ryals of Valdosta and Grace Howell of  Houston, TX; one brother, Wendell Lee Clements of Conyers; seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren. Funeral services were held February 5 at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Ray City. Interment was in Beaver Dam Cemetery. Music Funeral Services of Lakeland was in charge of arrangements.

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1944 – Ray City Boy Awarded Important Air Medal

 

 

James A. Swindle

Ray City Boy Awarded Important Air Medal

Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross for Outstanding Achievement

A Medium Bomber Station, Eng. — The Distinguished Flying Cross recently was awarded at this Marauder Station to First Lieutenant James Aaron Swindle, 24, of Ray City Ga.,  for “outstanding Achievement while serving as pilot of a B-26 Marauder in hazardous bombing missions over enemy-occupied continental Europe.”

Lt. Swindle has piloted a Marauder in 40 attacks against Nazi installations in enemy-occupied Holland, Belgium and France thus far. In addition to the D.F.C. he also wears the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters.

He rates as his most interesting mission a recent attack against the Luftwaffe base at Amsterdam Schipol, in Holland, when flak fragments hit the windshield of his aircraft and spattered glass all over his lap. ” It was the most concentrated flak that I have ever seen,” he said upon return from the mission.

Lt. Swindle graduated from Ray City high school in 1936 and was employed by the U.S. Engineers at Florence, S.C. before he enlisted in the service on Jan 2. 1942. He graduated from advanced flight training September 6, 1942, at the Columbus Miss., Army Flying School and left for overseas service early in 1943.

He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Swindle of Ray City.

EDITORS NOTE: Lt. Swindle’s father stated this week that his flying son had completed 44 missions over enemy territory as of March 4. He will return to the States, it is understood, when he reaches the 50-mark.

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