Segment 1


Joseph Boitnott was born Ronnie Joe Boitnott and raised in Maxwell, Iowa. Boitnott’s mother was a housekeeper, his father was a farmer, and he had two sisters who were 10 and 12 years older and married when he was growing up. Boitnott’s mother and father got divorced in 1936 and he moved in with his sister and her husband in Des Moines, Iowa. Boitnott finished his secondary education and joined the Iowa National Guard. His friend joined the National Guard and he joined for the discipline and money. Boitnott rode the streetcar downtown to sign up for the National Guard with his friend. It took about 15 or 20 minutes to sign up and Boitnott had to have his sister sign the papers to make it official because he was only 17. Commanding Officer Lightfoot requested the papers right after the holidays and Boitnott only had a short period of time to have his sister sign the paperwork. Boitnott passed the physical and he was told he was going to be a machine gunner due to his size. He became a 30 caliber water cooled machine gunner. Boitnott went to Fort Des Moines for training and went to Camp Ripley, Minnesota for maneuvers during the summertime. Boitnott had another six months until High School graduation. At this time the Japanese were on the war path with China and Hitler was on the path to Czechoslovakia and Poland. Boitnott and his friend who signed up with him were federalized in February 1941 for the 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry. His friend got out but Boitnott stayed in. The machine gun Boitnott was supposed to train on was still in Newton, Iowa. In February 1941 they were mobilized and got selective service people and were deported to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana for training. Boitnott stayed in training for all of 1941 until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December. They were loaded on trains for Fort Dix, New Jersey. They traveled on the trains with the shades down so people could not see inside and the troops could not see out. Joe Lewis was training to fight at Fort Dix to fight the German fighter Max Scmeling. They took the 164th Regiment away from North and South Dakota and sent them to California. They left the 133rd, 135th, and 168th Infantry, the 109th Medical, the 109th Engineers, 151st Field Artillery, and the 175th Field Artillery overseas. They also had the 1st Armored Division in route to Northern Ireland and later Scotland for amphibious training. Roosevelt was giving lend lease to the British and Boitnott’s Division was the first lend lease. They trained near the Windsor Castle and Loch Lomond area in Paisley and Barrhead in Scotland.


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