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Edwin Jesse Gire
Villa Grove, IL-
"The boys from the Douglas County and surrounding area boarded the bus to Effingham at the Walgreen Drug Store in Tuscola in the early morning of November 24, 1950."
- Edwin Jesse Gire
By Ed Gire as told to Mary Ann Gire
Ed received his notice of acceptability on October 24, 1950 for the draft.
Ed Gire was inducted into the 44th A. I. B. Army Infantry Battalion on November 24, 1950, Thanksgiving Day for the Korean War. (See Induction Notice following.)
The boys from the Douglas County and surrounding area boarded the bus to Effingham at the Walgreen Drug Store in Tuscola in the early morning of November 24, 1950. They then went on to St. Louis.
While in Effingham, Ed had breakfast with Stan Gillis of Tuscola, and Ted Elder of Villa Grove, Bob Smith of Newman and a Coffey boy from Hindsboro.
They went to St. Louis on the bus, it was very cold, it had been warm when the boys started out and Ed left without a jacket. When they got to their destination it was freezing.
They arrived at Fort Leonard Wood, where the base had been closed since World War II, and was just now being reopened for the Korean War. Ed’s unit was among the first to be inducted for the Korean War, which meant that theirs would be the one of first to the front.
Upon arrival, they had to scrub down their barracks from top to bottom. With the bitter cold weather the coal furnace, which stood outside the barracks, was lighted. The furnace promptly belched smoke and soot all over the freshly cleaned barracks. The boys were then told to clean the barracks all over again; they worked until 8:00 A.M. The next morning they were inducted into the Army. The unit was outfitted with Class A clothing but there were no size 12 shoes (as all the clothing had not yet arrived,) so Ed wore street shoes for the first three months of basic training.
Right after Basic Training, Ed was placed in Battalion Headquarters as an aide to Major Kingery, who was in charge of Ed’s battalion.
He went through Basic and graduated 4 months later. The Battalion was then split up with a bunch going to Korea. Ed was kept back as Company Clerk due to the fact that he could type and also because of two years of college. They needed a clerk for processing incoming new people (recruits). He then went into Special Services Football and the Military Police.
Some of Ed’s Army buddies from college football now played together on an Army football team (Fort Leonard Wood’s team).
The Army brought in four coaches from different divisions to coach the team. The team consisted, in part, of ones who had played pro and a couple of All American players.
The first year they played the University of Missouri twice in one season. Several of the team were held over to be entertained by members of Stevens College hoping to get the team members to finish their education at the University of Missouri. The team played at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, Camp Carson in Denver, the Electronic Bowl in Biloxi, Mississippi and the University of Mississippi. They traveled to the states of Texas, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, Michigan and Kansas during the football season.
After football season Ed would be transferred back to the Military Police.
Ed was good friends with Burdette Thurby who had played for the University of Illinois and was in the Military Police with Ed. Their job was to return AWOL soldiers back to their bases.
The second year they were both kept back for football again. The team name was the Fort Leonard Wood Hilltoppers.
Ed’s unit was the 5017th M.P. unit. The latter part of his M.P. duty was guarding prisoners in the post stockade.
Many of Ed’s buddies went to Korea to the front in the battle of the Chosin Reservoir. Many did not come home. Tears still come to Ed’s eyes when he tells of this.
The following are a couple of Ed’s memories of events that happened during his tour of duty.
His second year in the Army, Ed was driving home on leave. A semi-trailer truck driver had been taking a nap and pulled back on the highway in front of Ed. Ed rammed full force into the back of the truck. He was taken to Chanute Field Air Force Hospital to recuperate. He broke both knee caps as they went into the dashboard and the right knee into the key. He was in top physical condition or might have been hurt worse.
While he was at Chanute a bus load of girls came from Eastern Illinois University to entertain the troops. Among these was Mary Ann Null who sang a duet with her friend Marion Tracy, "It Is No Secret What God Can Do." Mary Ann, now Mrs. Ed Gire, remembers seeing a young soldier down in the front in a wheel chair. He was asked to be brought down in front when he had heard the girls were from Eastern. When Mary Ann was on stage she actually asked herself if her future husband could be out in the audience.
After the program, some of the girls, who had known Ed at Eastern, heard Ed was there at Chanute and went to visit him in his room. They asked Mary Ann if she wanted to go with them, tired from the trip she went back to the bus to rest. Ed was honorably discharged due to his accident in November of 1952. Later on at Eastern when Ed came back to school, Mary Ann met Ed, and then she knew what all the fuss was about.
Ed and Mary Ann were married on May 7, 1955. They have four children, Kathy, Sue, Margi and Ed Jr. and seven grand children.
Ed and Mary Ann were married in the Methodist Church in Charleston, by Villa Grove Methodist pastor, Clarence Essman. While on his way to perform the marriage ceremony, Reverend Essman stopped by the side of the road to pick up the groom whose car had broken down and took him to the church.
Ed worked for the U. S. Industrial Chemicals Corporation in Senior Sales in Chicago and for Monsanto Chemicals before going into business for himself with Co-op Plastics. Ed and Mary Ann returned to Villa Grove in 1990.