Early Life

Becoming a Soldier


Wesley S. Mullen was born in March 1925 in southwest Philadelphia [Annotator's Note: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] and grew up in Darby [Annotator’s Note: Darby, Pennsylvania]. He enlisted January 1943 and was discharged in October 1945. He was 16 years old when war broke out in 1941. He was at a skating rink just having met his future wife when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. He worked in a butcher shop while in high school. He did his homework at the store while on the night shift learning to cut meat. Although he was in the 11th grade in high school, he decided to join the Army even though his teacher, Ms. Label [Annotator’s Note: no given name provided and surname spelling unconfirmed], advised him to graduate first. His boss told him not to sign up. His father objected but his mother acquiesced. He promised his teacher that he would return and obtain his diploma after his military service. Mullen did so after discharge. His teacher wrote to him while he served and even sent him a Class of 1944 Alumni card despite the fact that he was not officially a member of that graduating class. He has attended the class reunions. Even though he went with his future wife, Marie, she was not really his girlfriend. He did not have a girlfriend at the time. One of the girls in his class did write him every week. They became friendly during the war.


Wesley S. Mullen underwent basic training at Fort Riley, Kansas. He was assigned to the horse cavalry, but it was soon dissolved. He was then trained for two weeks in Fort Jackson, South Carolina as an infantryman. He was ordered to Fort Meade [Annotator's Note: Fort George G. Meade in Anne Arundel County, Maryland] before receiving a pass to return home on leave [Annotator's Note: an authorized absence for a short period of time]. Returning to Myles Standish [Annotator’s Note: in Taunton, Massachusetts], he prepared to go overseas. Passing through Nova Scotia [Annotator's Note: Nova Scotia, Canada] on the Mauretania [Annotator's Note: RMS Mauretania (1938)] which was the sister ship to the Lusitania [Annotator’s Note: RMS Lusitania], the ship was fast enough to transit unescorted. It altered course every seven minutes to avoid submarine encounters. Mullen was yet to be assigned to an outfit at the time. Arriving in England in October [Annotator’s Note: October 1943], he was sent to the 1st Infantry Division, 26th Infantry Regiment, G Company, 2nd Platoon [Annotator's Note: Company G, 2nd Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division]. Mullen did not receive any training for Normandy [Annotator's Note: D-Day; the Allied invasion of Normandy, France on 6 June 1944] but merely took short hikes during his time there until June [Annotator’s Note: June 1944]. It must have been the 16th [Annotator's Note: 16th Infantry Division] that went in first that were heavily trained. Mullen experienced no specific training for D-Day although he anticipated the invasion without knowing its time or place. Considerable time was spent in pubs for Mullen and his friends. When the invasion fleet set sail, the weather was so bad that the assault was delayed. On the LCI [Annotator’s Note: landing craft, infantry], Mullen made sure he had a top bunk because everyone seemed seasick. The LCI was packed tight with troops. The men did not complain but were kidding around and playing cards. Perhaps the men were too young and stupid to know otherwise. The following morning was D-Day. The LCI was on the extreme right flank and slated to land at 11 o’clock.

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