Coalville veteran recounts WWII
November 8, 2013
Owen Staley, fresh out of North Summit High School in 1944, was shipped off to Germany on New Year’s Day 1945. On the verge of also serving in Japan during World War II, he eventually returned back to Coalville, where he resides today, recollecting his experiences.
Staley left for Germany on New Year’s Day 1945 from New York on the Queen Mary after having completed his basic training at cavalry school in Fort Riley, Kansas. He was assigned to the 8th Cavalry Reconnaissance where he served until the end of the war.
"Germany was beautiful. It was wintertime, it was cold, but it was a beautiful place," Staley said about arriving in Germany during the second week of January.
Near the end of the war, Staley and his regiment were traveling through the countryside as they approached a small village whose surrender they had planned to expect.
"They opened fire on us, shot the recon driver and two guys in a tank were killed. I was behind them in the jeep and was able to go back and get help," Staley said.
Staley and his regiment were in Schwerin, Germany, when the Germans were defeated, along with a company of Russians. He described the experience as fun and interesting.
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Shortly after the war was over, Staley and his regiment were given leave, and were able to travel to Holland, Paris and other places in Europe. They were then shipped home as they were getting ready to be sent to Japan, but the war ended while they were home.
Staley was later called up as a reserve for the Korean War, during which time he was stationed in France for a year. In contrast to how returning Vietnam War veterans were treated upon return to the United States, Staley said he was greeted "very well" by crowds back home.
Going back to work at his father’s saw mill and, later, Moore Motor Company, Staley, who belongs to his local American Legion, said Veterans Day has always been special to him.
"The thing I enjoy most about our service as American Legion veterans is the service we provide for those who died. We conduct the grave site ceremonies for all of the veterans in our area," Staley said.
Staley said he had a cousin who was killed during World War II and his wife, Superla, served in the Cadet Nurse Corps. He has a ‘World War II’ cap on it that he wears and said he was surprised one day when someone said "Thanks for your service." He shared what he hopes others get out of Veterans Day.
"I hope [Veterans Day] helps [people] appreciate America and what veterans have done to preserve America," Staley said. "It makes you feel good once in a while when you have people show you appreciation."
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