Segment 1

Annotation

Chaisson was born on 26 October 1924 in Thibodaux, Louisiana. He went to high school there and played football until he broke his leg. He had good teachers and did well in school. He graduated when he was 16.His worked two jobs until he enlisted in the army at 17 years old. Chaisson was assigned to Camp Plauche in Harahan, Louisiana with the transportation corps. Having a high IQ he was sent to LSU [Annotator's Note: Louisiana State University] to the ASTP, Army Specialized Training Program.At LSU they took regular courses with the enrolled students. After ninety days they were sent to Camp Maxey, Texas for infantry training. They did a lot of training and even did practice landings on the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma. When they had completed their courses they were sent to Camp Miles Standish, Providence, Rhode Island [Annotator's Note: Camp Miles Standish is in Haughton, Massachusetts] to go to Europe. Chaisson had septic tonsils and almost missed his deployment. He had his tonsils removed and off he went.The trip overseas took about 14 days. He went to Europe aboard the SS Argentina in a convoy with a number of other ships. The trip took 14 days because the convoy could only travel at the speed of its slowest ship and every other day there was a submarine scare. Every now and then they could see a ship in the distance being hit by torpedoes and sunk.Chaisson arrived in Southampton, England. They unloaded there and had an orientation and did some more training. They were then sent to the Mediterranean to join the 1st Infantry [Annotator's Note: 1st Infantry Division] as replacements for guys who had been killed during the fighting in North Africa. A lot of men had been killed.They boarded landing craft and landed on the southwest coast of Sicily. Their job was to go up the southwest coast of Sicily to Palermo. For the most part it was a cake walk. They had some casualties but the Germans didn't put up much of a fight and the Italians were glad to give up. They had no heart for fighting. It took about a month to get to Palermo.In Palermo there was a guy in Chaisson's unit named Joe Orendo who spoke Italian. He learned from the Sicilians that there was a German warehouse outside of the city. Inside there were glass containers that were to be used to make land mines that couldn't be detected by metal detectors. They informed a battalion who sent a shave tail, a young second lieutenant, to look into it.They were in Sicily for six or seven weeks when they got the word that Eisenhower [Annotator's Note: US Army General, later President of the United States, Dwight David Eisenhower] wanted the 1st Infantry Division in Europe. They boarded transports and steamed along the African Coast. German fighters flew over them every day. They were attacked by the old P-40s [Annotator’s Note:  P-40 Warhawk American fighter planes] that were flying in North Africa. Chaisson saw an air battle almost every day.They got through the Straits of Gibraltar and landed in Southampton, England. From there they went to a little town on the south west coast called Weymouth to train for the invasion. They would go out in landing craft every day and come back in and drop the flap [Annotator's Note: ramp] onto the beach.While they were there, about 20 to 30 miles away, a German submarine saw some of the landing craft and torpedoed them. About 700 GIs drowned [Annotator's Note: Chaisson is referring to Exercise Tiger, the dress rehearsal for the D-Day invasion. German torpedo boats sighted the transport ships carrying the soldiers to the beach they were to land on and sank three of them. The result was that nearly 800 soldiers and sailors lost their lives.]. A big thing was made about it by the news media [Annotator's Note: Nothing was made of it at the time. The event was covered up by the military. The disaster was kept secret for many years after the war.].

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