From the cavalry to the infantry
David Barker, of Odessa, didn’t know if he’d survive the German attacks. He was drafted May 8, 1944, at the age of 26. He was selected to be in the horse cavalry and was sent to Fort Riley, Kan.
“I was raised up on a farm and that’s probably one reason why they started out putting me with the horse cavalry,” he said. “In my age we didn’t have those tractors. We did all our work by horses.”
He was disappointed when the Army decided they were going to send him where they weren’t using horses. He was transferred into the infantry and sent to California. He eventually boarded a ship to LeHavre, France.
He traveled across France with the Blackhawk Division, Company C, 341st Infantry. They didn’t see any action until they crossed over into Germany.
“At times it was bad, at times it was pretty good,” he said. The 88-mm big guns shot over their heads every night and took its toll on the men.
“You just wondered if you’d ever make it home or not,” he said.
As they made their way into Germany, Barker didn’t feel the Americans treated the Germans right.
As the Americans went through the small German towns, they’d go up to a nice house and take over. Every person in the home would have to leave.
“I don’t see why it was necessary to run civilian Germans, boys and girls, out of their home with no place to go,” he said.
He recalled a time when a German civilian smarted off to the Americans ahead of him. He was shot and killed. Meanwhile, a German girl cooked the Americans a hot meal. They could heard the Germans singing at the man’s funeral while they were eating dinner.
“It’s terrible to think that people could treat each other that a way, but maybe it was necessary,” he said.
Barker was at an abandoned schoolhouse, when he was instructed to start up a hill. That’s when he got shot. The Germans shot him in the foot on April 26, 1945, and broke all of the bones in it.
“It wasn’t no time that it swelled up so tight,” Barker said. “When the medic got there, he took a big ol’ knife, cut the boot down on both sides and split it open, so I could get my foot out of it.”
Even today, it’s still stiff. He can rotate his ankle but can’t work his toes. Pieces of bone have worked their way out of his foot about three times since he was discharged on Nov. 18, 1945.
“I’m proud that I got to serve, but I wish I didn’t get wounded,” he said.
Because of the injuries to his foot, he wasn’t able to work line jobs, so he returned to farming.
“A lot of people don’t like farm life. I think it’s about the cleanest life about anyone can live,” he said.
He’s now a resident at the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg. He enjoys watching the tractor parades that go by the home.
Barker has been married for nearly 64 years and has five children, 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
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