Segment 1


Olen Grant was born in Benton, Arkansas on 5 April 1923. After his father returned from World War I, he moved to Benton and began surface mining bauxite ore. During the Depression years they were not able to pay their taxes, so they lost their property. At some point, the Grant family lost the farm and other property. During the Depression, Grant’s father moved to El Dorado where he worked in the oil fields digging ditches to lay six inch pipeline. The work was not permanent. He only worked when he was needed. Because of that, the Grant family moved around a lot. When Grant was in grade school, oil was discovered around Longview and Kilgore in Texas. Grant’s father moved the family there, but when he was unable to secure employment he moved the family back to El Dorado. Finally Grant’s father broke down mentally. He was shell shocked [Annotator’s Note: now referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD] from the fighting in the Meuse Argonne. He went to the VA Hospital near Little Rock. After that his uncle took the family back to Arkansas. Back in Arkansas, the two older boys in Grant’s family got jobs. Grant went to high school, and his two sisters went to grade school. Grant was a senior in high school when he joined the National Guard. He did so in order to have spending money, which he had never had before. Grant’s two older brothers had joined the National Guard before he did. They all drilled together once a week on a Thursday night, so drill did not interfere with their jobs. None of them dreamed that they would ever have to go to war. It was just income. In the summer of 1941 their battery got orders to go to New Falls, Minnesota for maneuvers. They drove up in GI trucks and carried out war games. Grant had the duty of guarding a bridge over the Mississippi River. After being relieved from his post he went below the bridge where they kept their gear. As soon as he lay down he heard a very loud aircraft engine. The aircraft flew over and dropped flour sack on the bridge simulating bomb hits. It was at that point that Grant decided that he did not want to go to war on the ground. He wanted to go in the air. So he decided to get out of the National Guard. Grant does not exactly recall what he was doing when he learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He had graduated [Annotator’s Note: from high school] at mid term because he was short on credits. Instead of graduating with the class of 1941 he graduated with the class of 1942. After graduating in December he took his cousin’s job delivering and selling products after his cousin enlisted in the Coast Guard. By now Grant had already been discharged from the National Guard. Grant worked this job for three months then decided to go into the service in April [Annotator’s Note: April 1942]. By this time Grant was already out of the National Guard. His mother had gone to see Captain Bryant [Annotator’s Note: unsure of spelling] and told him that she was not going to give him her third son. They were all friends. Captain Bryant was the Grant family dentist. The captain agreed. He wrote Grant an Honorable Discharge and handed it to his mother.


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