Wesley Speed
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 12/10/1942 - 05/01/1946
Truck Driver and Linesman, Army Signal Corps

A midwife delivered Wesley in Coushatta, Louisiana. He was one of six children of Wesley and Annie Bell Speed. Wesley says he became a Christian at 14, finished the ninth grade, and left home at 19. He then lived in Springhill, New Orleans, and Shreveport, where he worked at several jobs, including waiter. He recalls being on Texas Avenue when paperboys were crying out "They bombed Pearl Harbor! Extra! Extra!" Upon entering the service Wesley was sent to Camp Tyson near Paris, Tennessee, for basic training. He remained there for 14 months and was placed in a balloon battalion briefly. Then he went into the Signal Corps at Fort Dix, New Jersey, working in the motor pool. Nine months later his unit sailed to Scotland on the RMS Queen Mary. The actor Mickey Rooney was aboard and gave shows for the soldiers during the 10-day voyage. Wesley was sent to southern France where he drove a jeep for a first lieutenant as the Allies fought their way into Germany. Soon after the war ended he was shot while on duty and spent six months recovering. He remained in Germany and served in the occupation. He was awarded a Bronze Star. When he returned to America, Wesley recalls, he thought race relations might have improved back home. They had not. He was ordered to the back of a bus he rode from New Jersey to Mississippi. He returned to his parents' home in Coushatta, and drew money from the "52/20" program for a year. Meanwhile, he returned to work in Shreveport. For 50 years he worked as a barbershop porter at Razor's Edge Barber Shop. Wesley never married.