This is not a chronicle of a brave and heroic soldier who rose several ranks to Captain or Colonel or Major, although he received a simple PFC to T-5 promotion along the way with a bunch of ‘other ‘guys’. This was an ordinary American boy, raised in a devout Catholic family by parents with strict principles, who was caught up in the conditions of a U.S. World War into which he was hurled as a teenager.
All at once, he was clad in khaki and sent here and there on the European battlefields. He was taking orders alongside his Army comrades, and serving his time as prescribed by U.S. Army guidelines. It is not a profound look at the lofty pursuits of a hero, but the necessary obligations of Private Arthur B. Pranger. There are narratives and exhibits included but primarily this volume reflects ‘Art’s’ personal ‘spin’ on this memorable period in history - 2 Years - 2 Months and 29 Days with A Company, 86th Chemical Mortar Battalion.
The 86th CMB was an integral part of the war across Europe. The battalion's role with the 4.2. Mortar included being attached to a few dozen INFANTRY Regiments and Divisions across Europe - through Normandy, Northern France - Belgium “Battle of the Bulge - Hurtgen Forest,” points in Germany - winding up in Czechoslovakia in 1945 leaving all this drama behind at Camp Campbell Kentucky to return to civilian life on November 6, 1945. This work includes humorous incidents - not usually associated with the serious business of warfare.
An Occasion In The Army
The Army enjoyed rifle inspection every day at 5:30
p.m. Rifles at that time consisted of Springfields and
Enfields. The former a nice piece. The latter a club that
purportedly worked. The Army also insisted on smooth
operations at rifle inspections. The Springfield owners had
no trouble. The Enfield owners had abundant problems -
namely - the Lieutenant would stand in front of you, grab
the rifle, hold it up to the light after opening the bolt,
inspect it and immediately shove it back to you and you
were immediately supposed to clear the bolt - all in one
faultless motion. Springfield owners did this faultlessly.
Enfield owners had to push the follower down first and then
close the bolt. This sounds easy but skinned fingers were
common, not to mention the clumsy look which did not add
to military precision.
But some brilliant P.F.C. decided that before inspection
if someone put a nickel in the follower, it would depress it
just enough to close the bolt smoothly and then you would
look like a Springfield owner. This worked fine. Now for the
point of this story.
There was a guy named Gauss. He could neither read
nor write. He came into the Army nothing and went out the
same way, but in between he managed to make Sergeant,
honorary of course. Latrine Sergeant to be exact. He was a
man physically. He liked to eat, drink and do things. Beyond
that he didn’t care. While cleaning the latrine the “smarter”
people used to bug him with such things as throwing paper
towels on the floor, which he didn’t like.
One day he seemed actually to get it done. He had a
Girl friend! He wanted to go to town that night but had no
money. So naturally he started borrowing, nickels, dimes,
anything to round up five bucks. Some of the boys went for
it with dimes and nickels but no bills. They knew that Gauss
thought borrowing meant a gift. Well, he wasn’t doing too
well. His girl was about to arrive, which she did. There was
him and there was her.
Now desperation forced his mind to work and it worked
very well. About 45 minutes later his pockets were bulging
and he grabbed his girlfriend and headed for the bus. All
the guys said, “Hey, Gauss. Where are you going with no
money?” He just patted his bulging pockets. Before the light
dawned among the onlooking men, Gauss was on the bus
cruising out of sight. As one man, the group rushed to their
respective barracks to find every nickel in every Enfield was
gone - gone with Gauss! He might have been ignorant, but
he wasn’t stupid when the occasion demanded.
Arthur B. Pranger
Born: March 21, 1925 - Covington, Kentucky to Frank and Mary Pranger.
Siblings: Ralph, 1928, Mary Joan, born 1930
Residence: Covington, Kentucky - 1925 - 1954 - Married November 25, 1954 - wife Rose - Residence - ERLANGER KENTUCKY Moved back to Pranger family home in Covington, from 1960 to present.
Children: Gary, Patricia, Christopher, John, Mary Carole, Lawrence and Donna Jean
Education: Elementary - St. John Parochial, Commercial schooling - St. Benedict Commercial, Covington, Ky.
New York Technical School - Cincinnati Ohio - on the GI BILL - 1948-1950 - RADIO AND TELEVISION
Employment: Kroger Grocery and Baking Company, Cincinnati, Ohio - 1942 - 1943 & 1946 - 1948
Drafted: The United States Army August 1943. Basic Training - Camp Swift, Texas. Served in Normandy, Huertgen Forest, Battle of the Bulge and Germany - June 28, 1944 until November 11, 1945
Self Employed: - TONEMASTERS TELEVISION SERVICE - Covington, January 1950 to 1998. Part time employment TURFWAY PARK Florence Kentucky until retirement in 2005.
NOTE: The home where the author and wife Rose currently reside in COVINGTON KENTUCKY was built in 1878 and occupied the same year by the Pranger family on their arrival from Germany.