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Veterans Home residents recount military experiences

RESERVE — The following Q&A shares the experiences of Vietnam veteran Edward Allan Bayles, Korean War veteran Bill Rouchelle and World War II veterans/ D-Day survivors Ubert and Lampton Terrell. The four men are residents of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve.

L’OBSERVATEUR gives special thanks to Sonya Hebert of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home and Brandee Patrick, director of communications for the Louisiana Department of Veteran Affairs, for coordinating and conducting these interviews.

Edward A. Bayles

Marine Corps, Vietnam War

Name and age

Edward A. Bayles, 76

 

What was your division/rank?

Sergeant in the Marines

 

What years did you serve?

1963-1967

 

Where were you stationed?

Hong Kong

 

Tell me the story of how you enlisted. Was it something you chose to do or were you drafted?

I had just turned 18 and my mother told me I had to work or enlist in the military, so I enlisted.

 

How did you feel the first time you put on the uniform?

My uniform made me very proud and scared at the same time.

 

What were your daily responsibilities?

I gave orders and made sure that everybody did what they were supposed to do.

 

What memories stand out the most from your time serving?

My biggest memory was when I was in Hong Kong and was supposed to be getting married, but ended up getting shot in the leg twice. So instead of getting married, I ended up going straight home.

 

How did being in the military change your life?

After being shot in the military and coming home, I lived a normal life. I married the love of my life, Candice, and we had two children.

 

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

Brings back memories of the loss of many friends, the fun times we had and all we used to do together.

 

What do you love most about this country?

The fact that I served and protected the country with my life and many others who chose to put their lives on the line.

William “Bill” Rouchell

Air Force, Korean War

Name and age

William “Bill” Rouchell, 92

 

What was your division/rank?

Staff Sergeant in the Air Force

 

What years did you serve?

1950-1954

 

Where were you stationed?

Wiesbaden, Germany

 

Tell me the story of how you enlisted. Was it something you chose to do or were you drafted?

I got a draft notice. My daddy knew General Huff who was a leading decorated soldier in Louisiana. I asked my daddy if I could see General Huff. I proposed four years in the Air Force and three in the Army. He agreed. One day later, I was on a train to Texas.

 

How did you feel the first time you put on the uniform?

Didn’t give it much thought. It beat going naked.

 

What were your daily responsibilities?

When I got to Germany, myself and another sergeant became responsible for running the Emergency Room in 15-hour shifts. Establishing what needed to be done and doing it.

 

What memories stand out the most from your time serving?

The birth of my son. The ability to move all over Europe. My wife and I got a car, an MG, and we were able to travel all over Europe. I joined the Frankfurt Automobile Club and competed in racing on Saturdays.

 

How did being in the military change your life?

It probably changed the overall scope of how I looked at things, in terms of military versus civilian life. When I got back, I got lucky and got good jobs.

 

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

I think of saying thank you to the troops. I think of it as similar to Armistice Day—it’s over, we get to celebrate, and take the fruits of our labor.

 

What do you love most about this country?

All the many things that this country stands for—freedoms, the freedom for people to approach one another.

 

 

Lampton C. Terrell

Army, World War II

Name and age

Lampton C. Terrell, 98

 

What was your division/rank?

Staff Sergeant in the Army

 

What years did you serve?

1943-1948

 

Where were you stationed?

Largely in Europe

 

Tell me the story of how you enlisted. Was it something you chose to do or were you drafted?

The war was a scary thing to tell you the truth. I enlisted from the very beginning. It was one of the things that was open to me. Times were hard. Everything was hard.

 

How did you feel the first time you put on the uniform?

It felt good when I put on my uniform.

 

What were your daily responsibilities?

One of the proudest things I accomplished in World War II was storming the beach of Normandy. It was my responsibility to secure a field hospital when we arrived. I lost 12 of my men, but we established that hospital, and saved a lot of lives. Daily was gathering intelligence. It was a tricky thing, and it was dangerous. You had to associate with people from the other side. Conveyance was largely dependent on horse and carriage. Sometimes, there wasn’t any carriage, just horseback.

 

What memories stand out the most from your time serving?

I lost a lot of friends. My heart would hurt, but I continued to be strong for my comrades and my country.

 

What do you remember from the first day of D-Day? Tell me all about what you saw and heard around you. What were you feeling in that moment?

I heard a lot of gunfire, mostly from my own gun. I was watching, trying to realize my enemy’s position.

 

How did being in the military change your life?

There’s no doubt that there was a large amount of change in my day-to-day living. The military life overshadows life up until that point.

 

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

It means someone is honoring those who have gone before me, and will honor me when my day comes to walk in Heaven.

 

What do you love most about this country?

I love my country for its ability to honor all those who served. I am proud of my country and my government.

 

Ubert Terrell

Army, World War II

Name and age

Ubert Terrell, 101

 

What was your division/rank?

Tech Sergeant in the Army. I was crew chief on a C47 Aircraft.

 

What years did you serve?

1942-1945

 

Where were you stationed?

Northern England and Taunton, England as well as Greux, France

 

Tell me the story of how you enlisted. Was it something you chose to do or were you drafted?

I had to register for the draft, and I was drafted. I had been working with the Civilian Conservation Corps in Mandeville, La. I worked for an ex-school teacher, and we had classes for men who hadn’t finished elementary school. I was drafted in August of 1942.

 

How did you feel the first time you put on the uniform?

I was not excited about it. I was drafted and had to leave my bride of one month.

 

What were your daily responsibilities?

Crew-Chief responsibilities on the aircraft

 

What memories stand out the most from your time serving?

Not the conflict part of it. We would go from Greux, France and pick up wounded soldiers and take them back to the hospital. That’s what I remember most, caring for the wounded.

 

What do you remember from the first day of D-Day? Tell me all about what you saw and heard around you. What were you feeling in that moment?

We dropped parachutes the night before-around 12:30 a.m. and went back the next day with two gliders.

 

How did being in the military change your life?

It changed it forever. Things that I see bring back memories. Like this guy on TV right now (motioned to the TV where a character was brandishing a gun).

 

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

Brings back memories. We are not getting told these days about what our previous military men did to preserve our freedom. They gave their lives and wounds for our freedom.

 

What do you love most about this country?

The freedom we have to move to any part of our nation without a permit of any kind.