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Standifer was born on April 24th, 1925 in Gulfport, Mississippi. He was walking down the street in Clinton, Mississippi when he found out about Pearl Harbor. A mother of a friend came outside and said, "We're at war!" Standifer had kept up with current events in Europe, but had disregarded the Japanese. He didn't consider the Japanese to be a serious threat. At the time, his community was at war; they did not want men deferred. Standifer looked for a service that would fit him. Standifer took an admissions test for the Army's Specialized Training Program [Annotator's Note: ASTP]. Standifer passed and was told to take a letter with him and to hold onto it until he was drafted. Standifer volunteered to go into the Specialized Training Program, but he had to wait until he was drafted. The Specialized Training was intended to take college educated people and put them into a unit. They had people testing for languages, engineering, and science. Standifer's specialty was engineering. He was sent to Ft. Benning for basic training. They had never given basic training at Ft. Benning before. Ft. Benning was originally for West Point graduates. The training was very good. Standifer was proud of his association with the infantry. They were then taught about half of the OCS [Annotator's Note: Officer Candidates School] curriculum. They received more than basic training. If they did not pass the OCS portion the candidates were flunked. Standifer graduated from basic training and then 2 weeks later they were sent home as members of the infantry. It turned out that they were preparing for the invasion and they realized there would be a lot of casualties. If one was educated, they were sent to specialty schools, but they needed good men to lead the infantry as well. Standifer and about 25,000 men were thrown into the infantry; Standifer's unit had a lot of these men in his outfit. Standifer and his peers were in good shape. They were arrogant and disgusted that they were put in the infantry because they were too smart. A few people were disgusted with being assigned to the basic infantry. They knew a lot about the tactics since they received training at ASTP. They had a lot more confidence then the average infantry soldier. Standifer's group was sent to a rifle company, but Standifer was selected as a scout. Another ASTP company in another outfit held back an entire German counterattack during the Battle of the Bulge.

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Standifer was at Ft. Benning for 16 weeks. From there Standifer went to Camp McCain with the 94th Infantry. There were a lot of people who were upset with the arrogant college kids being mixed into their outfit. Standifer and the ASTP kids were required to have a higher IQ then the other men in the unit. They got along pretty well for 3 to 4 months. Standifer helped explain to his squad leader how to read a map. After a while it became harder to remember who had been ASTP or not. At first however the non-ASTP men were resentful. One guy in the ASTP was a nervous wreck because he did not want to be a combat infantry soldier. He was repeatedly sent to the aid station and repeatedly the medic would send him back. The kid ended up committing suicide. Most of the men were very proud of the fact that they were infantry. They went overseas in August 1944. They landed on Utah Beach 90 days after the invasion. The coxswain was able to wait for the tide to go out before they landed on Utah Beach. They then marched until about 12 o'clock that night. Finally they reached an open field and were told to go to sleep. The men had sleeping bags. The next morning they dried everything out because it was raining. They were there for 3 days. There was an armored submarine base near Brittany. An armored division was babysitting the enemy submarine base. They swapped with the armored division. It turned out the Germans were packed in there; the Americans were outnumbered 4 to 1. They did not want to fight them. The battalion commanders kept sending the men out on patrols to keep an eye on the Germans. The experience was invaluable. They got word that a group of Germans wanted to surrender. If a platoon of men was sent, heavily armed, the Germans would surrender. Standifer was not in that group. They got to the town and no one was there, they kept moving forward and they walked into a German ambush. The Germans were on all 3 sides. The lead scout was killed instantly. They fought for about 3 hours and then they surrendered. They were prisoners for about 6 weeks until the Germans traded them back for rations. Right after that, Standifer's battalion attacked a fortified position the Germans had on the river. Standifer was 1 of the scouts for that. They were walking along a road that had stone walls on either side. At a certain time they were going to shoot a flare and everyone was going to open up. Standifer poked his head up from the side of the stone wall and saw a German standing there stomping his feet from the cold. Standifer laid down, the machine gun opened up and killed the German. The bullets ended up ricocheting and hitting Standifer in the leg and the arm. Standifer left his overcoat there, they counted 28 bullet holes in it. Standifer was sent to the hospital. He had been on the line for 3 months. Standifer wanted to get out of that mess. Standifer grew up Baptist and did not drink. His company commander offered him a drink while the fighting was still going on and Standifer chugged it. Besides being excited about going to the hospital, he was drunk. Standifer had a blood transfusion. He was in the hospital through Christmas. As soon as the Battle of the Bulge started they had already been planning on getting Standifer's division on the line. At 1 point they were short on men. All men who could walk were to be summoned up to the front line. He could walk even though he was bandaged.

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Standifer had been eating well and sleeping well in the hospital. He was put into a boxcar and shipped to the front. He caught a bad cold on the boxcar. His battalion had made an attack the day before and had taken 75 percent casualties. Standifer knew he had to get back to his unit to help; the medic gave him a codeine and alcohol mix to help with his cold. It made Standifer shake all over when he drank it. Out of the 40 men who made the attack, there were only 12 left. Most of the 12 were wounded. Standifer had a bad cold, but he was the only 1 without a wound. He was put on patrol duty most every night. Standifer would listen to the Germans every night. They were in the same shape as the Americans, cold and scared. As a result of going on patrol every night, Standifer got double pneumonia and frozen feet. The lieutenant kept sending him back to the aid station but one had to have a fever higher then 103 degrees to be sent off of the line. Standifer finally hit that number and everyone in his unit was happy for him. On patrol, the cold was not good because he had to be quiet. It made him drink his alcohol and codeine mix faster. Standifer was put into the hospital again for pneumonia and frozen feet. As soon as Standifer went back, his unit went on an attack that would win them the Distinguished Unit Citation. Standifer stayed in the hospital until right before the war ended. He was on a train heading back to his division, which was in Belgium at the time, and the conductor stopped the train, blew the whistle and said the war is over. Everyone was celebrating. Standifer spoke a little bit of French and was able to communicate a little bit. He got back to his division at Dusseldorf. Standifer had 3 friends who were killed, and his other friends were all wounded some way or the other. They were in a British zone. They were moved to Czechoslovakia. They were still under the 3rd Army. Patton wanted his men to be ready to fight because at this point there was still uncertainty as to the moves Russia was going to make. They were on a 24-hour alert. It was Standifer's division and the 90th Division together had 40,000 men; the Russians had over a million men on the other side. They learned German as well during their occupation time. The Germans were scared of the Czechs because of the way they had been treated during the war. They went fishing. They also had a sportsmen's club. Some of the men were able to gather some hunting weapons and they were able to hunt and provide food for everyone. They would go down to the lake and throw German concussion grenades in the lake and then have a fish fry. Standifer recalls hunting with machine guns. He still has a Stars and Stripes [Annotator's Note: American Armed Forces newsletter] from when the war ended. The Stars and Stripes explained the wonders of atomic energy. Atomic energy was touted as the energy of the future. They began to discharge people on the basis of points. Points were based on age, family status, battle stars, medals, and how long one has served. Family status would increase one's points. Standifer had been in combat for 3 months, he had a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star and he still did not have enough points to go home. Standifer was sent to a German POW discharge center to continue working. He did not go home with his division. Standifer was sent to a resort town about 30 miles outside of Munich. There was a Luftwaffe training base there. The barracks for the air cadets was the nicest training facility he ever saw.

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They had a big fireplace, but it turned out to be a mock fireplace; the place was heated by steam. They lived in the barracks and were told to guard the German prisoners. The Germans requested that the Americans keep them busy. They would go out and repair the fence that surrounded the air base. They would repair search lights and things like that. It was all busy work. By that point Standifer knew enough German to communicate. The German soldiers would express to Standifer how tough it was fighting the Russians on the Eastern front. Standifer would try to tell them how bad it was on the American side, but the Germans were not hearing any of it. Standifer did not have combat stories that could hold up to the severity of the fighting the Germans faced in Russia. The Russians hated the Germans. If the Russians captured a German, they would torture them on the line so the Germans could hear them. Standifer had a good time with the Germans. He had a game going where the Germans would collect little medals for Standifer. He would trade the Germans cigarettes and candy for medals and souvenirs. He would then sell these trophies to the new guys who wanted war souvenirs, sometimes attaching outlandish stories to the items. Standifer would get paid in cigarettes and candy. It was a great little business. The Germans were glad the war was over and were ashamed of Hitler. A lot of the Hitler Youth captives were still in a state of shock that Hitler was dead. The German soldiers taught the Americans how to pick up German women. Standifer was able to meet girls in Germany. He was hitchhiking to Munich and a black soldier from Mississippi picked him up. The soldier told him that any time he gets stranded here, to not eat where the G.I.s ate but to come on over and eat where the black soldiers ate. The black soldiers worked with the rations. The black soldiers let them take what they needed. The black soldiers name was Sammy Lee. Standifer was told to ask for "Big Willie" who was the sergeant in charge. Big Willie was from Mississippi as well. Standifer walked up and asked the soldier standing at the door to speak to Big Willie. They all got along and they did have a good time. Most of the blacks were middle class. They poked fun at Standifer, but it was all in good fun. They had their own performances and shows. They had to do that because if they went into Munich then the white MPs would beat them up. It was sad because the black soldiers were looked down upon even more so then the German prisoners. Standifer saw combat for 3 months and 3 days. The 3 days was the longest part. Standifer carried the M-1 rifle. It was an excellent rifle; the Germans admired it. It was not very accurate but one could fire 8 rounds very quickly. The Germans were accustomed to firing, and then setting the bolt, firing again, then setting the bolt again.

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One could fire automatically from the hip. The M-1 could get muddy, wet, and whatever else and it would fire. The German weapons were made with extreme precision. The M-1 was a much more practical rifle then the German rifle. Standifer talked to a Vietnam vet and the man expressed how good the M-1 was in comparison to the modern rifles they were using in Vietnam. The M-1 round would go through almost anything. Standifer typically fought from a distance of 30 to 40 yards. The longest shot Standifer fired was from 70 yards. Patton always said to make noise and scare them. There were 2 scouts to a squad of 12 men. Standifer was 1st scout on the majority of the patrols. His partner, the 2nd scout, was a man who was a physics major from Brown University. He was a junior; he got wounded badly in the attack that took place while Standifer was in the hospital. His back was torn up and he was almost completely deaf. The man went back to Brown and did lip reading. He got a degree in electrical engineering from Brown. He ended up establishing his own electrical contracting company. He became very successful. They sent him home deaf and with a bad back. His wife and Standifer's mother wrote all the time during the war. The man was a better soldier and scout then Standifer, but he had glasses and could not see that far, Standifer had better eyes. Between the 2 of them they did their job well. Standifer's platoon leader told him at a reunion that he had originally requested Standifer and Wells to be the lead scouts, but they chose 2 others and they were killed during the ambush. At 19 you do not think you'll be killed. He did not receive any additional training once he landed in Europe. They drove in trucks to Brittany and it was just getting dark. As soon as it got dark they moved in and replaced the armored outfit. It was completely dark. The next morning the Germans hit the line to see how the new replacements would react. Standifer's unit ended up driving them back. A platoon of Germans were surrounded at the sub base. The ground consisted of granite rock. The towns were located on high points. The ambush ended up destroying Standifer's unit. The Germans had the high ground all around the town.

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The Germans expected the Americans to retreat and get out of there. The American unit stayed and fought. 1 of the men was captured and interrogated. The man told Standifer later on that the Germans told them that the Americans had killed over a hundred Germans in the fight. The man who was captured was also Jewish. The Germans knew why the man got rid of his dog tags, because they indicated he was Jewish. The German interrogator was trying to get the man to spill information. Standifer scouted for 3 months and 3 days, but most of the time it was boring. The guys would sit around and talk about their hometowns and what they were going to do when they got home. Sometimes they would go weeks without hearing a rifle shot. 1 time they attempted a night ambush. They got into a field and were going to surround the Germans. 1 of their guys went to sleep and accidentally pulled the rifle on his trigger, giving away their position. They ended up running back to their lines since their cover was blown. When they were in Czechoslovakia they grabbed a bunch of captured pistols. The same kid who blew their cover for the ambush ended up shooting himself in the foot playing with a captured hand gun. It was mostly boring, trying to keep warm and trying to keep dry. Brittany is a lot like England, it will rain for a few minutes then clear up. It is cold and getting wet is a guarantee. Guard duty took up a lot of the time as well. Guard duty would be 2 hours on, 4 hours off at night. 12 to 2 o'clock in the morning was the longest shift. It takes a long time for the Army to plan an attack, most of the time you're sitting there doing nothing. Patton said that the 3rd Army was the best soldiers ever fielded. Compared to today's Army, they were less disciplined, less educated, and had poorer equipment. The enemy was not that well trained, but they were also stressed about the American advancement. The German tactics in France were poor and probably would not have worked had it not been for the weakness of the French Army. If the German Army in its prime had hit the American Army when we landed, it would have been a tough fight. The Germans were not less smart, they just did not have the time to train because they were fighting on 2 fronts. Some of the things Standifer talked to the Germans about was when did they know the war was over. 1 of the captured Germans had been on a detail to repair bombed roads. They would repair the roads during the day. When he was captured he saw an American GI driving a bulldozer, he did the work that they would do in a night in half the time. The German realized at that point that the Americans were more mechanized and they were going to win.

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The Germans had a lot of horsedrawn equipment. Their tanks were good but they were too well engineered. To get a German tank to run, 1 had to be a good mechanic. The American tanks were not as fast and not as well armed, but they could be repaired faster. The Germans bought the parts that Mercedes and the other companies made. The parts were tightly fitted for that particular vehicle. The American vehicles were easier to repair because they had all interchangeable parts. There was probably a lot of politics involved with the German manufacturing companies and that probably hurt them in the end. The machines were too good considering the conditions they were fighting in. The Hitler Youth captives were in the greatest amount of shock at the end of the war. The Hitler Youth program trained the young men well. The Hitler Youth was far better then the American boy scouts. They had hiking trails built all through Germany and cabin infrastructures for the Hitler Youth. They would learn German history as well. The Youth were told that Germany was a great country and that they did not deserve the treatment the world gave them after World War I. The Youth would go to summer camp for 2 weeks at a time. They practiced with rifles, learned how to sail a boat, and other types of activities. If one was a leader in the Hitler Youth, they had to preach the teachings of Germany. The Hitler Youth was able to sell German pride to a lot of young kids. They all grew up believing Hitler was a wonderful man. During the war the Germans knew what was going on at Dachau. They knew the Gestapo were arresting people for anything. People could not speak out against Hitler because of the Gestapo. A lot of the German soldiers coming back from Russia spoke ill about what was going on. They were taking terrible losses but no one reported it in Germany. They all believed in National Socialism. Everyone was on equal standing. People got educated. Some people made more money then others but that is because they worked hard. Hitler was a great speaker and was able to influence more and more people as his reign went on. The Germans were a little arrogant. They experienced humiliation after WWI and they wanted to look good.

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The Germans that Standifer met were as good as the American soldiers. The Germans may have been better earlier in the war. They had not faced an opponent like the Americans. After they made the beachhead at Normandy, most intelligent Germans realized that the war was done. A lot of Germans thought that the Americans would lose their spirit. Towards the end of the war some of the captured Germans would talk about how Germany had weapons in the works that would end the war. Standifer did not know any French soldiers. All of the German people were drafted or they volunteered because they had to. Standifer did meet some Danish soldiers in the German army. He was not up on his German at that point and was not able to communicate. All of the Germans that Standifer guarded after the war were Bavarian Germans. The Red Cross would have parties where Americans could meet Germans. He used to listen to the women tell him about the American bombing campaign. It sounded a lot worse than what Standifer went through in combat. The citizens were always told that the American bombing campaign was targeting them. A lot of the German cities were badly damaged far away from any military targets. The German citizens were bitter towards the American pilots. If the civilians captured a downed American airmen, they would kill them. Standifer met with some German relatives after the Berlin Wall fell. The relatives would take Standifer around and show him where the Americans had bombed. A lot of times the American bombers had to drop their bombs so they would be able to get back to their base. This caused a lot of indiscriminate bombing. It took the German civilians a long time to get over that. German women were hired to clear the streets, they were called "rubble women." The women got extra rations for helping to clean up the rubble. German citizens would keep track of the Russian and American armies to see who would get to them the fastest. German bread was not good towards the end of the war and even after. Standifer would give away candy and food to the kids. Eisenhower passed a No Fraternization law so that there would not be any trouble with the civilians.

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Munich was a big city, larger then New Orleans. The area around the railroad depots in Munich were absolutely destroyed. There were other places where it was obvious that the American bombers were off target. The old courthouse in Munich survived. When the Americans got to Munich the buildings around the courthouse were in good shape. The main church in Munich with the 2 big domes made it through unscathed. There were apartment areas that were intact. Most of the cities towards the end were evacuated so there was a lot of unoccupied territory. There were parts of town that were not damaged. In Standifer's estimation about three fourths of the town was destroyed. The Red Cross came in and established different restaurants and bars in Munich. Americans took over the best brewery in town. The war was over; everything was a mess, but the Germans were glad that it was over. Most of the time the G.I.s got along well with the locals. Candy and cigarettes bought a lot of friends. Standifer recalls feeling bad for the German soldier. Patton had to hire ex-Nazi's to run certain public works in Germany. Standifer's infantry division was sent to a prisoner of war camp in Dachau. He got to to go home in November. Standifer was able to carry on a conversation in German by the time he was sent home. The Bavarians spoke a sloppy form of German. The Germans in Northern Germany could not understand any of the German that Standifer was speaking.

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Standifer tried to use a credit card on one of his return trips to Germany in 1996 and the man who he was trying to buy something from had no idea what a credit card was. Standifer heard nothing but bad things about the Russians from the Germans. He went back to Germany when he was writing his book. Standifer wanted to hear any good things about the Russians. He asked a man and he said ,"Do you want to hear good things or do you want to hear the truth." The Germans were terrified of the Russians. The man informed Standifer that socialism would work if man was not selfish, but man is selfish. Standifer's duty as a scout was exciting because of the terrain. Since they were always out in front it was a perilous exercise. If the scout were to back down or hide, the men would lose faith in the scout. He had to do what he had to do with conviction, despite being scared. Standifer recalls coming back from scouting and sitting under a tree and shaking. Silence made him nervous because in war movies that he had seen the action would only occur after a prolonged silence. Standifer's unit was a close-knit family. They knew that any day they could be in an attack; everyone believed they would be wounded instead of being killed. Standifer worried about who would help him if he was hit. He was fired on once and everyone dropped to the ground; they waited 10 minutes and kept moving. Standifer was scared whenever he was shot at. During the day they would hear artillery or a random machine gun fire. They were well aware that the Germans were about a mile away. They stayed on the line for 2 weeks and 1 week in reserve. At the end of 2 weeks after not getting much sleep and going on patrols, 1 almost did not care anymore because they were emotionally drained. By the time you rested and got up on the front you were scared all over again. They joked a lot. They were so tired that sometimes there were not many emotions left. They would sing songs to the Germans, mostly because they were scared. The squad leader would yell at them to shut up so as not to let the Germans knew where they were. Standifer was assigned to take some Russian soldiers who had fought in the German Army back to Berlin so they could turn them over to the Russians. Before Standifer could go someone called his name and he was going home.

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They were not really Russian soldiers, but they were of Ukranian descent. Standifer called them Russians. If the Germans had taken Moscow then the Americans would have been in a lot of trouble. In 1984, Standifer went on a sabbatical to England to study physiology. They decided to take a short trip to France where he fought. Standifer met with a man who was a 16 year old boy when he met him during the war. They went and toured the old submarine base where Standifer was first put on the line. When Standifer came back he wrote down a lot of his experiences. He had been on faculty at the LSU Press. They told Standifer that if he expanded his writings it would make a great book. He was given a good copy editor and they were able to make a good book. They had the idea of writing a book that would focus solely on his combat record and if it worked out to write another follow up book regarding his occupation duty. Standifer had to learn how to change styles when it came to writing. It was easy for him to go back and write the book from his 19 year old perspective. Standifer was transferred to the 71st ID for transportation back home. He was with the 94th Division from March of 1944 until November of 1945, except for his 2 stays in the hospital. He was still a member of the division when he was in the hospital. Standifer got out in 1946. He entered the service in August 1943 and got out in April 1946. They were not nearly as good of people as they thought they were. They were fighting against people who did not have time to train. They had complete air supremacy and more artillery then the Germans could have ever thought. Most of the German casualties came from our artillery. Fighting against the Germans was better then fighting against the Japanese. Standifer was not fearful of being captured. Being 19, he was not worried about getting killed. Standifer played the laws of averages and he came out alright. Everyone in his platoon who went overseas was wounded. Standifer thought one boy was not wounded. He talked to him at a reunion and it turned out he was not wounded. If they were not wounded, they had frozen feet. Standifer did not have problems with PTSD, but he knew people in his company who completely broke down. Guys who broke down were sent back to the rear, but during the Bulge those guys were sent back. Standifer had no PTSD, but when he came home and got back into society he had nightmares and flare-ups. Standifer went to Mississippi State to get treatment for his PTSD. They would give him a lot of barbituates to deal with it. Standifer did not know how to act in public and people did not realize how bad war was. He recalls going to church in Clinton, Mississippi after the war in his dress uniform with medals. One of the pompous old men in church told Standifer that it was good to see him back and that his medals showed that he saw a good bit of action. The man said, "Well, I'm sure you served the Lord well over there." Ft. Benning had taught them to wound the Germans if they could, so that they could shoot at the men trying to save the man. Ft. Benning gave them a very good basic training. If Germans came in to surrender they were nice to them. They would give them coffee and food. The MP's were mean towards the Germans so that the interrogation would be better. In basic training they were taught to be professionals. It's a lot like being on a football team. You're not mad at the other team, you could even be friends, but you will take them out if you can.

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