Veteran Memories: Harvey E. Loomis

Company B, 351st Infantry Regiment.


I was a licensed pharmacist working 70 hours a week for $12.00 and I decided that I did not want any part of that so I quit. I enlisted in the service in peacetime of September 1935. I had a nice vacation down in Hawaii. Wartime I went in September of 1943.


I joined the 88th Division in May of 1944. My regiment was the 351st, Company B. I was a rifleman. I was not an original member from Camp Gruber. I joined them as a replacement at the Battle of Santa Maria.


I did my basic training and reported in at a Naval Station in Virginia. I shipped out on the General Butler on her maiden voyage. It took me to Casablanca. I then traveled by train across the Andes Mountain to Oran in North Africa on the Mediterranean shore. There I took a British boat (I call it a tugboat. I don't think they would appreciate that) and that took me across to Naples. When we landed in Naples we went over land by truck to a replacement depot. This property had once been the cattle ranch of Mussolini's son. The weather in April was rainy and bad. We pitched a tent in a swamp practically. It was raining so much it was really wet. I spent about 10 days there and then went to join the combat outfit at Santa Maria.


One thing that really stands out was my ability to have a day off to visit Rome and the Vatican. I spent the whole day there. That was great. I had a friend with me also a 351st man and he spoke Italian. his parents were Italian and neither one of his parents ever spoke anything but Italian. So he threw the language around pretty well. He was a nice guy to have along on my trip to Rome. We had a public session with the pope. I'm not Roman Catholic but my Italian friend certainly was. He was overjoyed. I enjoyed every minute of time with my friend in Rome for the one day.


There was a long time between the time I got out when I was a medic and the time I went into the army and wound up as a rifleman. September 1935 I went into the Army as a Medic. I left the Army in November 19, 1937. I went back into civilian life until I was drafted in September 1943. I had a lot of fun working different jobs. I was working as a specialty writer for construction manuals for certain business equipment like typewriters, calculators and etc. for the Underwood Corporation at that time. I left them and went with American Chain and Cable making cable and also doing technical writing. That was about it until I went into World War II.


I went into the service at wartime in September 1943 . In combat I was wounded at Laiatico, Italy on the 15th day of July 1944. We moved out further. On October 9, 1944 I collected a 38-calibur slug through my left foot. It entered at the base of the big toe and blew the ankle out on the other side . That got me completely out of the service. I was home by my various means. When I got hit it was a rainy night, it was really raining. The front line medic took my shoe off to see what the condition was and he said, "You will have to make it back by yourself. I cannot provide you back with transportation. The battalion aide station is down this highway. Stay on this highway for 1-1/2 miles, but you will have to do it on your own. I cannot go with you I have to stay here for more possible injuries ." He said, " I wish you the best of luck" and I took off.


It was 10:30 p.m. approximately when I got hit and daybreak had already come when I had reached the aide station. From there I took a short ambulance trip all the way through the city of Florence. And in due time they flew me to Livorno and boarded a boat there and took me to Naples. I stayed at Naples for two to three weeks before they put me on a ship to bring me back to the United States. At that point, I was then at Camp Edwards at Cape Cod. I stayed there for three weeks and then they transferred me to a military base in Massachusetts. From there I stayed at the point until I was discharged in August 1944.


My rank when I left the service - I reached an ultimate high of PFC. They held me at that base because I turned down the opportunity to go to Officer Training School when I got out of basic training. I turned it down. Officers were too big of a target. I didn't want any part of it.


My years of service were a great experience and I met a lot of real good friends . I even met three fellows from my same town that I was from. It was pleasant all the way around. I disliked it very much that I had to leave , but I was banged up pretty good. I had to leave and my friends were still there. Fortunately, they all got home. You don't know when you leave the group, if they will meet the same fate like a lot of others did.


Death in our outfit - we had our share of them too. The same night that I got hit with the same burst of what we refer to as a fart pistol, they call them now assault weapons. Six of us got hit and three of the six were killed outright. War can be rough.

 

From veteran interviews conducted by Lana D., 88th Infantry Division Association, California Chapter meeting, 2002.