Kenneth C. Long
1 Lt
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 06/14/1940 - 12/09/1945
Tank Platoon Commander, 3rd Armored Division

Kenneth was born in Xenia, Ohio, the son of Edward F. and Viola Long. His mother died when he was four, and his father re-married. His stepmother's name was Virginia Catherine. He does not state her surname. Kenneth's father worked for National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio, where he built cash registers and posting machines. Kenneth lived with his grandmother for awhile at her home near Patterson Field (later Wright-Patterson Air Force Base). He remembers visiting the field and the sound of the engines being tested. Kenneth trimmed yards for extra income. He also lived with a German family named Becker for ten years--from his elementary school years through high school. Kenneth fished and hunted rabbits and muskrats for the hides. After graduating from Fairmont High School in Dayton in 1939, he and a friend, Ed Garner, traveled across country on Route 66, camping in a tent and eating day-old bread from bakeries and jackrabbits they shot in fields beside the road. Arriving in California, they harvested a peach crop, then moved on to Lodi, California, where they worked on a ranch harvesting English walnuts, almonds, and grapes. That fall they visited his uncle in Santa Monica, where they enjoyed the beach and attended a UCLA football game. Returning to Dayton and unable to find work, Kenneth enlisted at an Army recruiting office. "I went back a week or so later and the recruiting sergeant said, `Where have you been? We've been looking for you. They sent me to Fort Thomas Kentucky, and I had four cents in my pocket." Kenneth enlisted there in June of 1940, then took basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Because he could type, he was selected to serve as a company clerk. He was soon placed in the 2nd Armored Division under General George S. Patton, Jr. "He'd been an old cavalry officer. He put everybody in boots and britches," Kenneth recalls. In 1941 he reported to the 3rd Armored Division at Camp Polk, Louisiana, where he served as personnel sergeant major for the 23rd Armored Engineers Battalion. In 1943 he was sent to Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Knox, Kentucky. "I went up there to become a `ninety-day wonder,'" he recalls. As a second lieutenant he was sent to a tank battalion of the 20th Armored Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. There he trained in M4A1 tanks, as well as "light tanks." At Fort Ord, California, he trained in an amphibious tractor battalion. In the meantime, Kenneth married Fronah E. Brown on July 16, 1943. From Boston he shipped out to England as a replacement officer. Sent on to the European continent soon after the June 6, 1944 invasion, he was assigned to a Tank Recovery Maintenance Section, Company B, 68th Tank Battalion, 6th Armored Division, 3rd Army. "All the enlisted men knew their jobs," he says. "They were super good in what they did." In the campaign across Europe in the winter of 1944-45, he recalls bitterly cold weather, warming up rations on the tank's manifold, and heating water with captured German blow torches. He served in the campaign for Bastogne where 3rd Army relieved the 101st Airborne Division. There Kenneth left the recovery section and was placed in charge of a platoon with five tanks. "They needed officers and all the officers except me in my particular company had been killed or evacuated," he recalls. In maneuvers, he says, they often moved in "reconnaissance by fire," firing "every weapon they had" to clear enemy out of the way. He remembers many near misses. In fighting near a town in Germany, his tank was hit and set afire. Kenneth, who was wounded, and his crew jumped into a "potato bunk," where potatoes were stored in straw and dirt. Another tank company attacked "over the top of us" and took the town. He recalls full days of fighting, in which they attacked at dawn and didn't stop until the night. Townspeople often treated them well, he says, even in Germany. "Many a night I just slept in a bed," he says. After Bastogne, Kenneth recalls, "things broke loose and I mean just started moving fast. I finally shook hands with the Russians south of Berlin." Besides meeting the Russians at the Elbe River, he also recalls seeing the Nazi death camp, Buchenwald. Returning to the states with a Purple Heart among other medals, Kenneth was discharged at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He worked in the U.S. Post Office in Ohio for about a year and a half, then moved to Shreveport and worked with his father-in-law in construction as a carpenter. During the Korean War, Kenneth served 18 months on active duty in the 509th Tank Battalion at Camp Polk. After the war he returned to the construction trade, in which he's worked for 60 years. His wife passed away in 2003. He is now married to Phyllis Jones. He has one child, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.