John Gipson
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 07/16/1943 - 02/09/1946
Truck Driver, 573rd Ordnance Ammo Company, 573rd Ordnance Ammo Company
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He was born in Bernice, Louisiana, and raised in a shotgun house in Dubach as one of 13 children. His parents were John and Lola Gipson. His father was employed by Rock Island Railroad, while his mother did domestic work. With his parents working during the day, John, as the oldest child, supervised the upkeep of the house. He made beds, washed dishes, and swept floors. He remembers seeing his mother cry from not knowing how she would feed the children. John helped. By age "twelve or thirteen" he began working 10-hour days at a sawmill, earning ten cents an hour. At 17, with World War II beginning, John he helped erect military camps in Arkansas. Entering the U.S. Army himself on July 16, 1943, he took basic at Camp Ellis, Illinois, and was sent overseas on the RMS Queen Mary to Great Britain in 1944. John drove a truck in camp road maintenance. He also shuttled to ships troops bound for the D-Day invasion. John was later sent into France where he drove a truck, often at night in blackout conditions. He returned to America on the SS Booker T. Washington. He was ill when he reached New York, and was among the first taken off the ship. After a 10-day hospital stay, he was discharged at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in February of 1946. Upon his return to Dubach, he says, everyone was glad to see him, "family and friends, white and black." John worked at a planer mill as well as at Hamilton's Grocery Store, and then for Sanitary Dairy Products. He "semi-retired" in 1984, and then worked for a pallet mill. In December of 1946 he married Marjorie Redford. They have four children, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.