Rudy Raymond of Bay Isles Estates in Nokomis, Fla. like thousands of other guys, was called back into the service when the Korean War broke out. In World War II he served as a Marine in the 2nd Air Warning Squadron at Okinawa. “After the war I got in the Army Reserve. They could call you back in the Army any time they wanted you,” the 90-year-old former soldier said. “When Korea came along I got called back into the Army.” He ended up a drill sergeant training troops at Fort Pickett, Va. in 1950. “While at Pickett our unit had a formal regimental changing of the guard. This was a big deal to show the troops how the regular army worked. During a meeting our company commander had with the colonel in charge of our regiment my C.O. was asked if there was anyone he could recommend to handle the changing of the guard ceremony. “‘I have just the man for you. He was a Marine in World War II,’ our C.O. told the colonel. My C.O. handed me the book of procedures on the changing of the guard. I handled the formal changing of the guard at Fort Pickett and when we got to Munich I continued to handle the regimental changing of the guard. “Just before we left Pickett for Germany, Gen. Eisenhower (Supreme Commander of NATO) came to our fort. I was in charge of the honor guard that met him at the airport. The general was standing right in front of me when he looked me in the eye and said, ‘Good job, son.'” This was shortly before Eisenhower resigned from the military to run as the GOP’s candidate for president in 1953.
“We put a couple of platoons through basic training at Pickett. Then the instructors were incorporated into the third platoon of trainees and all of us were sent to Germany instead of Korea. Sometime during the middle of the year we took a boat out of New York and sailed for Europe. We were housed in beautiful stone barracks with hardwood floors built for Hitler’s troops. This was a class act. “Our unit in Germany was sent to an area along the Soviet border with Germany. It was the ‘Cold War.’ We were out there digging foxholes in the woods. We’d do this for a couple of weeks and then we would return to our barracks in Munich.” Raymond stayed in Germany with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 169th Infantry Regiment, 43rd Infantry Division. Altogether he served three years during the Second World War, from 1943 until 1946 in the Pacific and another three years, from 1950 until 1953, during the Korean War in Germany. “At one point while in Germany the first sergeant and I took the old man’s Jeep and took a little trip into Russia. We could see this big building down the road on the Russian side of the border. We were told there was a restaurant in the building,” he recalled decades later. “So the sergeant and I got in the Jeep and headed down the road to the restaurant.”
“You didn’t have to go through a checkpoint to get to the Russian side of the boarder?” Raymond was asked. “‘No,’ he said. ‘This was in the boonies. There was just a country road leading through the hills to the restaurant.’ “When we arrived in our Jeep, we got out and walked into the restaurant. There were two booths of Russian soldiers surrounded by a group of women. They were obviously having a good time and they paid little attention to us. “I looked at the first sergeant. We weren’t quite sure what to do. I told him quietly, ‘Let’s don’t stop now.’ So we bellied up to the bar in our military uniforms and ordered two mugs of beer. “The barkeep looked at us rather strangely, but put two pints in front of us. We downed the beers in one gulp. We didn’t want to look afraid, but we get the hell out of there. We told the bartender good bye and walked leisurely out. “Once outside we jumped back in our Jeep, did a big U-turn and got out of there in a hurry. As we were going out the door we could hear a couple of the German girls looking at us and giggling.” The Russian soldiers never caught on. “We got down the road, over the hill and back to our camp,” Raymond said. “Then we had a big laugh about it all.” “What was the German’s attitude toward American soldiers in the early 1950s?” “The German people were very nice to us,” Raymond said. “You could still see bombed out sections of the country from World War II. “There were still Nazis around in Germany in the 50s. They were like a special society. “We realized how lucky we were to be in Germany and not Korea. We’d get letters from friends who went from the states to Korea telling us how bad it was over there.” When he returned from Germany Raymond went back to work as a salesman for a Hartford, Conn. firm that supplied parts for household appliances. He worked for them for 50 years until he retired in 1993. At that point he moved to Florida. He has one son, Bob, who lives in East Hartford, Conn.
Name: Randolph Jean Raymond D.O.B: 7 Sept. 1924 Hometown: Fall River, Mass Currently: Venice, Fla. Entered Service: 10 March 1943 Discharged: 1946 Rank: Sergeant Unit: Air Warning Squadron 8 Commendations: Certificate of satisfactory Service, Good Conduct Medal Battles/Campaigns: Okinawa, World War II; Germany, Korean War era. Click here to read Rudy’s first story with Don.
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015 and is republished with permission.
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