Entrance into Service

War's End


Orville Clayton was born in Fort Payne, Alabama in May 1921. He grew up in a small town. His father was a physician. He owned a small hospital and a dairy. The Depression [Annotator's Note: Great Depression; a global economic depression that lasted through the 1930s] affected everyone. His father died in 1931. Clayton had nine brothers and sisters. After high school, he went to the University of Alabama [Annotator’s Note: in Tuscaloosa, Alabama] in 1939. He was in his room studying when the announcement about Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941] came across his radio. He did not know where Pearl Harbor was. He thought the West Coast was under attack. He was going to medical school. He joined the ASTP program [Annotator's Note: generally referred to just by the initials ASTP; a program designed to educate massive numbers of soldiers in technical fields such as engineering and foreign languages and to commission those individuals at a fairly rapid pace in order to fill the need for skilled junior officers] and graduated in 1945 from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. He was in the Army until he finished medical school. Most of the men were in the Army or the Navy. Clayton was concerned that the Army would not take him overseas. He was at Cook County Hospital when he heard the war was over. He went through high-altitude training with a new breathing machine in 1944. They learned they had to pressurize the B-24s [Annotator's Note: Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber].


Orville Clayton was interning at the hospital when he heard the atomic bombs were dropped [Annotator's Note: nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, 6 and 9 August 1945]. He was happy the war was done. His brother was on a Navy ship preparing to be a part of the invasion of Japan. Clayton graduated from medical school in 1946. He was in the Army for another two years. Service members were coming home and needed medical care. He was assigned to the Army Navy General Hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He did lab work. He was transferred to another hospital and made chief of surgery. [Annotator’s Note: Clayton describes the patients he saw.] They tested the chemical warfare gases the Germans had developed. Everyone was happy to return home and get out of the war. The G.I. Bill [Annotator's Note: the G.I. Bill, or Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, was enacted by the United States Congress to aid United States veterans of World War 2 in transitioning back to civilian life and included financial aid for education, mortgages, business starts, and unemployment] made it possible for service members to go to school. Alabama had a lot of development during and after the war. He was very impressed by the museum in New Orleans [Annotator's Note: The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana]. The war changed the country. People who would not have been able to go to school could. It changed the thinking of the country.

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