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William Dabney was born on 24 June 1924 in Altavista, Virginia. Dabney had five sisters and four brothers but ended up with only three brothers and three sisters after two sisters and a brother died. Dabneyâ€™s father was a farmer. They farmed corn and tobacco. Dabney enjoyed farming growing up but eventually grew out of it. On the farm Dabney would help out with tasks as much as he could. The boys on the farm did most of the physical labor. Dabneyâ€™s siblings encouraged him to attend school. Dabney was shy at first but once he got used to meeting all of the other kids it was alright. The school would pick the smart kids to perform in the Christmas play. Dabneyâ€™s sisters were all older than him. One of his brothers served in the army and navy. Another one of his brothers worked in a shipyard. Dabney left high school and went into the army. He joined the Army because most of his peers had joined. Dabney left high school in the 10th grade to join the army. After the war he attempted to get an engineering degree but came up one semester short. [Annotators Note: The interviewer gets Dabney back on chronological track and reverts the questions back to Dabneyâ€™s prewar life.] Dabney volunteered for the service. His serial number was 13121160. Dabney was inducted in December of 1942 at Fort Meade, Maryland. Dabney got in trouble and was not allowed to come home for Christmas. He was back home in Virginia when he found out about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Dabney decided to volunteer in 1942 and that is when he dropped out of high school. The attack on Pearl Harbor was all over the radio and the newspaper. Everybody was talking about it. Dabney knew that he wanted to do his part. The attack was certainly a surprise.
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