William L. Patterson
U. S. Army
Korean War
Dates of Service: 01/04/1949 - 06/09/1952
Infantryman, Cook, 1st Cavalry, 5th Regiment, F Company
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He was born at home in a two-room house "eight miles out in the country" near Mineola, Texas, as one of two children to William Joshua Patterson and Katie Lee Russell Patton. His father was a farmer and dental technician who worked for a dentist during the day, then tended the doctor's farm. "Lots of times Dad would come home and run the tractor until ten, eleven o'clock," he recalls. The family suffered during the Depression, once going on "assistance." Their mode of travel was by wagon. For recreation and entertainment he recalls swimming, riding his bicycle, and going to town with the family in the wagon to see movies. On Saturday nights they listened to The Grand Ole Opry on their battery-powered radio. When his father died in 1944 William's mother went to work as a waitress while he washed dishes after school. He quit school in the seventh grade, and worked as a fry cook in a restaurant and as a deliveryman for the Dr Pepper Bottling Company. "I upped my age a year to get my driver's license," he comments. William joined the U.S. Army when he was seventeen. He took basic training at Fort Chaffee near Fort Smith, Arkansas. By spring of 1949 he was sent to Fort Bliss near El Paso and assigned to an anti-aircraft artillery unit. He completed cooking school, and by November was cooking for his battalion as a baker at Fort Sheridan in Illinois. On June 5, 1950 he married Barbara Newson, whom he had met in Shongaloo, Louisiana after his mother moved there. (They would have three daughters and seven grandchildren.) William was sent to Korea in late June of 1950. Out of his company, he says, only five were selected for duty in Korea. "I was supposed to go over there as cook but they sent me straight to the front lines," he says. "I always have believed my mess sergeant, because I wouldn't suck up to him, put my name on the list." Landing in Pusan, South Korea, William was assigned as a rifleman to F Company, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. He was soon wounded by mortar fire on September 18, 1950. "I thought I was a goner to tell you the truth," he says. With his left shoulder badly damaged, he was treated in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH). He was sent on to a U.S. Army hospital in Osaka, Japan, then eventually to a U.S. Navy hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. William was discharged at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His career took him into several fields including work in a bakery, as a truck driver, and as a diesel electrician's helper. He worked as an office manager for a sheet metal company, and in several positions at T.E. Mercer Trucking Company. William attended Bish Mathis Institute, a business school in Longview. He also attended LSU in Shreveport after he moved to the city in 1967. He spent much of his career in sales and management at Montgomery Ward. After he retired on June 30, 1989 he and Barbara spent several years traveling the country.