Enclosed are my dues for the 99th Infantry Division Association plus a little to cover when I didn't pay dues. Thank you for your quick response to my request for 99th Division information. It was like a letter from home that updated a 55-year time lapse.
As I read the back issues of the Checkerboard, it brought back a flood of memories, especially Steve Kallas' account of the combat mission in early January where Lafayette Leroy Wadsworth was killed. I arrived back at the company late on the evening of this mission. They told me several people from my squad were out on patrol. Wadsworth and I had been good friends since Camp Maxey.
E Company shipped out of Camp Miles Standish on the ship, Exchequer. As we left port many of us stood on the fantail watching Boston disappear. I believe it was Curtis Whiteway who came up to me and asked, "Do you feel anything?" I said, "No, why?" He said, "Ewing E. Fidler of Ada OK is standing over there with the feeling he won't return alive." I started over to speak to Fidler and ran into Wadsworth with tears running down his cheeks. I asked him what was wrong. He said God just told him he wouldn't come home alive.
I believe Fidler was the first casualty of Company E. He was killed in the presence of three other members of E Company Headquarters group in a forester's log cabin by a stray bullet entering between the logs.
Kallas' account of Wadsworth completed their prophesies. Wadsworth was very religious but could use foul language without employing the name of God. He was a contradiction. He was from Reno NV, and very religious, but a compulsive gambler who never drank anything stronger than cokes.
He had never handled paper money before joining the Army. He said his family hoarded silver. They only dealt in gold and silver coins. He would receive money from his grandfather in a 2'x2'x8" long oak box that held 20 or 25 silver dollars. It had a complex locking system and was very strong. The last time I saw the box was in South England in October 1944, when he received money from home. It was my 21st birthday and he gave me a silver dollar. I carried it until I was wounded and lost everything personal.
I was discharged from the Army hospital with my papers, 10 stitches in my lip, and the clothing on my back. About four months later I received two Purple Hearts, a uniform, an envelope with about 20 ribbons, many of which I hadn't earned. I really didn't give a damn because I was still celebrating being alive.
I went over the E Company list and recognized a few names from the days at Camp Maxey and the Battle of the Bulge. Considering we probably lost half our personnel to trench foot before the Bulge, it's not surprising I don't recognize many.
When I got to the Paris hospital in mid-February 1945, one of the men from E Company came to see me. He said there were more men from the original 99th there than at the front — all with amputated feet, toes missing, or feet with no feeling. Even though I had a serious head wound, my recovery was quicker and more complete than many men with trench foot.
Walter Kellogg E/394
4332 Laren Lane
Dallas TX 75244