Horace M. Jeter
Obituary for Horace Jeter:
A celebration of life for Horace Jeter, age 95, of Austin, Texas, formerly of Enid, will be 10:00 am, Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at Ladusau-Evans Funeral Home with Pastor Lance Nelson officiating. A visitation will be held on Tuesday, April 7, 2015 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Enid Cemetery.
Horace was born January 15, 1920 in Mountaincrest, Arkansas, to John Ernest Jeter and Callie A. (King) Jeter. He attended schools in Enid, Oklahoma. In 1944 he was drafted into the Army and served until 1945 as Staff Sgt. and Squad Leader of Company L, 346th Infantry including the “Battle of the Bulge” in World War II. He also served in the USAF in the reserves and on active duty in the 1950s at Vance Air Force Base in Enid.
Horace owned and operated an automotive repair business in Enid for more that forty years before retiring, after which he and Lois moved to Texas to be close to their sons and their families in Brenham and Austin.
As an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Enid for many years he helped maintain and drive the Kiawanatrain at Meadowlake Park.
He was a devout Christian and faithful member of the Central Assembly of God Church in Enid and later the First Christian Church of Brenham, Texas where his son Gary was Pastor.
On January 15, 1938 in a ceremony in Enid, officiated by Rev. John E. Jeter, he married Lois Adriene Young. They raised two children, John L. and Gary L. who attended Enid Schools.
Horace was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Lois, siblings John Clark, Ernestine, Louise and Hugh, by his daughters-in-law Mary Jeter and Judy Jeter, and son Gary. He is survived by his son John and wife Carolyn of Austin, his Daughter-in law Darlene Jeter, and his brothers David of Enid and Dwight of San Antonio. He leaves, six grand children, fourteen great grandchildren and two great-great grand children all living in Texas, many nieces and nephews and numerous friends in Enid and Brenham.
Memorial donations may be made to Central Assembly of God Church in Enid or the First Christian Church in Brenham, TX
Online condolences may be made at www.ladusauevans.com .
One of Horace’s favorite past times was playing music, old hymns and choruses. Below is a video I recently found capturing Horace playing our old (out of tune!) upright piano on my 46th birthday party in Brenham, TX. He mentions getting his daily therapy, but it was more than just therapy for him.
In the assisted living center he lived in he commented several times about how many living there seemed like they were just waiting to die. So he began playing the piano in the community room on a daily basis. Everyone would be sitting around in the different areas staring into space with few conversations going on. He would go over to the piano, sit down and start playing an old hymn and after a few minutes, when he would look around a crowd had gathered around, listening to and enjoying the songs. He continued to spread the light of Christ until he was called home.
Below is a quick video of Horace’s speaking to Jaclyn Joy Jeter on April 5, 2010 after her baptism at First Christian Church in Brenham, TX. Horace shares a few words of wisdom for everyone.
WORLD WAR II EXPERIENCES
BY HORACE M. JETER
October 23, 2006
Here it is October 23, 2006 and I am just now starting to write in this nice book Johnny and Carolyn bought for me January 15, 2003. I have been asked by Johnny and Gary to write some of my past, so if the Lord will give me the strength in my hand and renew my mind I will do my best. God has been good to me through almost 87 years and has spared my life many times, especially in war times. I will start this off telling of some of those times.
In World War II, I was at the right age to be drafted. My youngest brother, Dwight, was taken right after he finished high school; David just two years younger than me tried to get in but failed the physical. I had two young sons Johnny and Gary and my wife Lois who was not well and already had had one operation so I tried to get a deferment by moving to San Benito, Texas and working on army vehicles in Harlingen, Texas. It did get me a short time deferment, so that was where I was when I got my greeting from Uncle Sam. Johnny L. was 5 and Gary was 2. They lived in Mineral Wells, Texas when I was sent to Camp Wolters, Texas for my 17 weeks of basic training. I got to be with them on Sundays. Lois’ mother and dad had moved back to Enid, Ok. from San Benito where they had moved to be close to us.
Camp Walters, Texas was a rough and very hot place to be trained. Two men died while I was there from over heat. They were training us for the South Pacific to fight the Japanese where it was hot but I did not go with the rest of my outfit I trained with as I was a hold over from a sprained ankle. I sprained it going over a wall in the obstacle course with a full field pack on my back and landing wrong. (I am missing words and letters.)
So after a 30 day period to get ready to be shipped over seas I was on my way to Europe. Before leaving I helped Lawrence Young, Lois’ dad, get started in the garage business. I went by train to Boston, Mas. Then went on a British Converted ship called the Aquitaine and landed in Glasgow Scotland then on a troop train to Southampton, England where we got on a landing craft and crossed the Channel to La Harve, France. From La Harve we were put on a train headed for Fort Metz, France. This train was nick named the 40 & 8. I think because they could put 40 men and the cars had 8 wheels. I know we were packed in like a bunch of cattle. It was last of December and very cold. I got very sick due to smoke from a fire some body had made in a bucket with coal for fuel so when the train came to a stop I jumped off. I unbuttoned my clothes and started throwing up form both ends and before I could get my clothes buttoned up the train started backing up. I couldn’t catch my car so I pounded on another car door till they opened up and drug me in. I was not welcomed as I had let a lot of cold air in. I found out later that we had gone about 10 miles into no mans land past where we were to have stopped. The enemy could have captured a whole train load of G. I’s that didn’t have any weapons. When we did get to Fort Metz we were told to go pick out an M 1 rifle. They had out of stacks of rifles out on the yard which had been taken off of our men that had been killed or wounded. We were told to clean them up and try them out and if needed to make one out of two. When we trained at Camp Walters we had brand new M 1’s.
They got us all in a group to assign us to different Companies and Platoons. While we were waiting a big truck came in with blood all over the tarpaulin in the back. They had just picked up a bunch of men that had been killed and took them somewhere. That didn’t make us feel very good.
While there a Captain made a speech and said if we captured a German don’t bother to take him back just shoot him. I thought to myself what kind of thing did I get myself into? I doubt if that was done very often. Well we had our weapons ready now and we were assigned to our Companies. I went to L Company, 2nd Platoon.
After 66 years I can’t remember just the right place to put different experiences. When I joined my squad they had lost all but about 3 or 4 men out of 15. I, like all of us, were replacements for those who had been killed or wounded. I can’t remember exactly when they made a B.A.R. man out of me, but I was the only one in our Platoon. B.A.R. stands for Browning Automatic Rifle. It’s close to being a machine gun. The one thing wrong about being a BAR man is that it was much heavier than the M 1 or carbine rifle and the ammunition was much much heavier. A B.A.R. man is supposed to have another person to carry the ammunition and you sure couldn’t get any volunteers.
Once on maneuvers the rest of Platoon won’t run off and leave you though. For an example: we were told to flush out some woods where the Germans were supposed to be. Everything was covered with snow and so we were going across this clearing. I fell into a vacated German fox hole. I had no ammunition barrier and I went out of sight and couldn’t get out. The rest of the guys finally missed me and came looking for me. They found me and helped me get out. It felt good to be missed. Ha, Ha.
One time while I was a B.A.R. man, we had just taken over this town or one side of the town. When we were in this house the Germans shot from a hill and killed one of our men when he was running to get in the house. I spotted where the fire was coming from and shot a volley from my B.A.R. out of the window. We didn’t receive any more fire from that hill. The B.A.R. was awfully hard to keep clean in the weather conditions we were in. It was very hard for one man to carry it and the magazines of 30 caliber shells.
I finally got rid of the B.A.R. but not on purpose. One day we just pulled out of a town and the Germans had zeroed in on us with there 88 artillery guns. They killed one guy ahead of me. I left my B.A.R. in a ditch and ran with the others back into the town where we went into the basement of a house. When I went back to look for my B.A.R. some one had taken it. I went around 2 or 3 days without a weapon.
One day when we were on the front lines dug-in, I did something I had never done in my life. I stole something. Some G. I.’s pulled up in a Weapons Carrier where we had dug-in. They were Forward Observers for our Artillery Outfit. The Carrier had a carbine rifle in a holder on the side of the truck. I spotted this carbine and when they moved away from the truck far enough I slipped over and stole the carbine rifle. They came by each of our fox holes searching for the gun but I kept it hidden. So I had a weapon again. They didn’t need it nearly as bad as I did; most of them had pistols, anyway. Some how I didn’t feel so guilty. A short time later I was able to trade my carbine rifle for an M. 1. rifle. I traded with one of our men who was being sent to a heavy weapons platoon. So much for the B.A.R. story.
This is how I went from a Buck Private to a Buck Sergeant and 2 weeks later to a Staff Sergeant. The number in my squad got down to about 3 or 4 men counting me. That meant that 11 or 12 men were either killed or wounded out of 15. When they told me I was going to be Squad Leader, I told them it would be just like the blind leading the blind. I didn’t know anything about being a Squad Leader. They told me it would be me or one of the replacements coming in who had no combat experience at all, so I told them I would do my best. The Squad Leader that I replaced had been hit in the leg by a booby trap when we were on night patrol. The trap was a string attached to a grenade which was stretched across the road. He was the first one to hit the string which made the grenade explode. We rigged up a stretcher and carried him back to our outfit.
Something funny happened on our trip back. It was so dark we couldn’t see our hand in front of our face. Two guys carryed him and one of us carried his weapon. We were on an old logging road going through the woods when we heard some one call out, “Halt!” They said, “What is the Pass Word?” One of us yelled it back to them. We said, “What is the counter Pass Word?” They couldn’t think of it so we yelled, “Give us the counter Pass Word or we will start shooting.” Then we heard them make a lot of noise trying to run through the dark woods. Ha, ha! We never did find out who they were.
After they made me Squad Leader the replacements came in and I had 14 men to look after and command. That was quite a responsibility for a 24 year old. However, I was older than most of the replacements.
I had two Indians in my squad. I decided to make them my #1 and #2 scouts. The older and heavier one was a full blood Sioux Indian named Center, we called him Chief. The younger ones name was Burns. I would send them out ahead when we were told to check out some woods, etc. This worked out pretty good but really too good. My squad was chosen before others in the Company to go first because of our scouts. For an example: our Convoy was held up because of sniper fire from a castle across a small river we were supposed to cross. So my squad was chosen. We had to go across the river first and climb a bluff in order to get rid of the snipers.
There was a T. D. (tank destroyer) leading the way in our Convoy. The rest of us were walking or riding on anything we could. Well the guys in the T.D. fired a phosphorus shell into a castle and when my squad finally got to the castle there was the owner and his servants trying to put out the fire by throwing water on it which made it blaze up even more. The snipers had already left but we could see where they had been due to the empty shell casings. The owner was a professor and spoke English very well and was cussing us out for destroying his priceless library. He said that he would have shot at us too and even though he didn’t like Hitler, we didn’t have a right to be there. One of my men surprised me by telling him “We may have destroyed your castle but you have been destroying temples not made with hands.” When we were sure the snipers were gone we rejoined the Convoy.
Our Division, which was the 87th Infantry Division, was a Phantom Division which moved around to support who ever needed us the most. We were not allowed to have any kind of letters or anything on us that would let the enemy know what outfit we were from in case we were captured. We were attached to the 9th Army for awhile but most of the times were with the 3rd Army under General Patton. There was a reason Patton was called ‘Blood and Guts Patton’ it was his guts and our blood. His tanks and T.D’s were built with heavy metal to protect those who drove them and for the ones who were the gunners. They were not built to protect us soldiers who were made to ride on top of them. No telling how many of our men were killed when enemy shells would start coming down on them while riding on the outside of the tanks. To give an example: One of my men, Billy McGee, who was riding across from me on a tank. The enemy shells started coming in on us and he was hit and fell off of the tank. We were taught to jump off of the tanks and to scatter when this happened. I didn’t know McGee had been hit at first but when our Platoon Sergeant saw him and asked me if that wasn’t one of my men he and I went to get him. The tank that we had been on had backed up and ran over his legs. When we got to him to try to carry him a jeep with a stretcher and a couple of medics came and picked him up to take him back to the First Aid Station. They were not able to save him. McGee was a Barber and a family man. I was told he had 6 kids. I wrote to his wife when I got back. I asked our Platoon leader why we were made to ride on tanks and he said he was told it would get the war over quicker and save lives in the long run. I still say it was a shameful thing to do.
Another thing concerning McGee; one day after we had taken over a town McGee and Gardner were cutting up and acting silly. I told them they should be thanking the Lord for getting us out of that town alive instead of cutting up. Later McGee spoke to me and said, “Jeter, I want you to know I do pray a lot.” When I wrote his wife I told her what he had said. War is a terrible thing. We are in a different kind of war now and it could be World War III.
The Lord spared my life on many occasions. As I have mentioned before the Germans were very accurate with their Artillery 88’s. On one occasion we had just taken over a town and several of us were hoping to stay overnight out of the weather in this one house. I had just walked out of a room when an 88 shell came through the window and exploded. There was a medic ‘I can’t think of his name’ who was still in this room and was lying on his back screaming from pain. I knelt down and started praying and talking to him. He did get quiet for a minute then started screaming again. Some guys took him up to the First Aid Station. I am sure they shot him with some morphine to quiet him down. He didn’t make it. There was a coat hanging in that room that was shredded by the blast. God saved my life!
Another time when we were changing fire with the enemy I heard something hit my helmet. Later found a bullet had put a crease in it. These were obvious times of near death; there is no telling how many other times I was spared.
Back to the 88’s: Another G.I. and I were taking turns on guard duty at an outpost of a town. Our job was to stop all vehicles getting ready to go into town and make them give the password. We had been getting reports that the Germans were dressing in our uniforms. As I was being relieved from my post and starting to walk to town the Germans started firing on me with their 88’s. I fell in a little ditch about 6 inches deep. Their first shell lit close enough that the dirt from the explosion fell on me. The next shell burst on the road on the other side of me. I guess they thought that they had killed me so they quit firing. I got up and ran back to this old Monastery that we were using for our outpost. It had a deep room with a ladder to climb down. I was still so scared, I climbed down and sat there in the dark shaking all over. I later called it my baptism of fire from the 88’s. God spared me again.
As I stated before when I joined my squad they had lost all but 3 or 4 men out of 15. Then after being built up the same thing happened before I was made Squad Leader. Then I was sent back to the Evacuation Hospital because I was running a high fever. I felt bad about having to go, then I realized I was the last one in my squad to have to go back after I had made Squad Leader. So you can see how rough it was.
After they finally got my fever down I went back to the front. On the way back I caught a ride with a couple of guys in a jeep. I was sitting in the right rear of the jeep and the others were in the front. Some German sniper started shooting at us and our driver got so scared and he was going too fast to make a turn. I bailed out and the jeep turned over on its side throwing the other men out. I think one of them broke his arm; however, I didn’t wait to see. I ran down to the place where the rest of our guys were. So much for riding in a jeep. The war was almost over in Europe when this happened.
As I mentioned before our Division was moved around and was almost constantly in combat. We received 3 battle stars: The Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. We fought in France, Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg. We were in Task Force Operations most of the time with very little rest time. When we did get a little rest it was because we were waiting for replacements. When our number was few we generally had enough to eat but when we had more men we had to try to live off the land. This meant raiding chicken houses and eating what ever we could find like apples, etc. At one time I think our whole outfit had dysentery which left us pretty weak. I can remember only one time we got to go back where we could take a shower. It was an all day job. I don’t know how far it was but they loaded a bunch of 6X6 GMC trucks and took us to where they had rigged up a place for us to take showers. It was raining and the road was muddy. We got stuck one time and had to get out and push the truck and when we did the wheels from the truck threw mud on us but we were still cleaner than before our showers. That was when the war was almost over.
I received an 87th book some time after we got home and I looked up how many men in our Company were killed. There were 39 men who were killed in action and many, many more were wounded or sent back with frozen feet, etc. This book has pictures of all the men who made it back to the States in Fort Benning, Ga. That is where we were when the war was over in Japan after we used the Atom bomb. We were supposed to have gone and helped fight that war too. Thank the Lord we didn’t.
V.E. Day was May 8th, 1945. We were close to the Czechoslovakian boarder near Praveen and Fleckenstein, Germany. As a replacement I joined the rest of the outfit December 26th so I was in combat a little over 4 months.
A funny thing that happened; well it wasn’t funny at the time. One time we were waiting on replacements and my Platoon was staying in a barn. The hay was good to spread blankets on which made a good bed. We had just had an in rank inspection. I must have done it wrong, because I was demonstrating to some of the guys how we use to do it in basic training. This was before the officer had inspected our weapons. We would pull the trigger with the gun pointed in the air to show it was unloaded. So this is what I did forgetting my gun was still loaded. The shell blew a big hole in one of the guys blanket overhead in the hay loft. I am sure glad he wasn’t on it. He and several guys had just made them selves cups of hot chocolate and the straw from above came down into their cups. I sure wasn’t very popular at that time. Ha, ha.
In the Infantry you get all kinds of characters. After we took over this town one of the guys in my squad had looted a movie projector. When we pulled out the next morning there he was carrying that big thing. I asked him where he thought he was going with it and made him get rid of it. Some of the guys were given a chance to go to the Army or go to jail and the infantry always got them. We did get a lot of good guys, too. I had a staff sergeant in my squad from the Air Force. He had been a cook. Since the Infantry lost more men and needed more men we got all kinds.
One time when we were back from the front we were sleeping in pup tents when a bad rain and wind storm came up. The next morning several of the tents had collapsed and all you could see were feet of men sticking out of their blown down tents. I found how addicted people can get to cigarettes. When our guys would run out they were hard to live with. I have never smoked, so was not bothered, but I have carried them for the guys when we were given cartons for each squad and given them to ones who needed them the worst. The wine cellars were raided and if they found a bottle that was not fermented they would holler out “Hey, Jeter”. I sure am glad my dad warned us kids what cigarettes and alcohol could do to you.