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Daughter asks questions, remembers Camp Maxey

I read an interesting article in the June online edition of the Checkerboard.

Joe Thimm wrote "Sad farewell to two special friends." In the article, he stated he and his buddies were in the 99th stationed at Camp Maxey TX. I realize at that time, many, many men were stationed at Camp Maxey. I have read local articles to this fact. I live in Paris TX, which is south of Camp Maxey. Many of the service men would come into Paris when they got leave from camp.

My father also was stationed at Camp Maxey. His name was Jerry William Gray, from Point Pleasant WV. His service time in the U.S. Army was from February 1942 until July 1945. He also served on the European front in Germany and Belgium, receiving two battle stars.

Dad never talked about his time overseas and I never heard him mention any "special friends" he had made while he was in the service, although he probably did have some. He did say he got trench foot from being in the cold foxholes. I wish he had mentioned some of his service friends, now that I have located this website.

I know it probably is nearly impossible for anyone to remember all their acquaintances while at Camp Maxey, however, does anyone remember a young man, early 20s, about 5'10", slim build, who liked to play the drums and especially liked to draw, always was friendly, had tattooed on his left forearm a pair of dice with the word "Lucky," may have worn plain glasses occasionally (the little brass wire type without frames), and probably smoked Lucky Strike cigarettes?

For those of you who were at Camp Maxey during World War II and any descendants of those who served at Camp Maxey, I thought I would add this little bit of information.

I have visited the camp twice. The first time was at the 50th anniversary dedication commemorating the July 15, 1942, opening of Camp Maxey. The dedication ceremony was held July 18, 1992. People from across the U.S. registered for and were at the ceremony. Camp Maxey covered an area of 70,000 acres and was home to 194,800 soldiers who were stationed there. Camp Maxey also served as a POW camp for 7,000 Germans. The camp closed in 1948, the same year I was born. I was proud to be able to be at the dedication ceremony. However, my father could not be there — he died less than two months prior to the ceremony.

My second visit to Camp Maxey was to tour the campgrounds with my father's brother and sister, who were visiting from Ohio. With authorized personnel, we were guided through the back roads of the camp. Not much is left there today.

Most of the buildings have been torn down or moved off the property, with only the foundations or concrete steps remaining to the many homes that were once there. Only a few buildings remain just inside the stone entranceway, which once must have been the busiest place in Lamar County.

A sign hangs across the entranceway, "Texas National Guard, Camp Maxey." Rumors floated around a few years ago that the government was going to close the camp down because of the maintenance expense. I hope that was all they were — just rumors. It is sad to think that a WWII military camp with such a historical background would be diminished to nothing but the stone entranceway with a dedication plaque in place and the memories to the few who still survive but someday will be gone.

Yvonne Gray

PO Box 6214

Paris TX 75461