FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'The War Is Over'

Aug 12, 2018

Bill Reid at 17, shortly before being drafted in 1944
Credit Holly Reid

Bill Reid is 92 now, but back in 1944 he was just 18 when he was drafted to fight in World War II. He traveled by train from New Jersey to Fort Bragg for 17 weeks of training before heading off to Europe. 

On his first day at Bragg, Reid recalled he was not impressed with his initial assignment.

"When I asked what kind of outfit it was that we were being trained for, they said, 'Oh, Cooks and Bakers school,'" he said. "Well, that doesn’t sit very well with a gung-ho hero." 

He switched to artillery, learning how to dig-in, aim, load and fire a 105 mm Howitzer.   

In January of 1945, Reid boarded a ship headed for Italy, where he spent seven months. By August, the war in Europe was over, but Reid and his fellow soldiers still faced the prospect of fighting on the Pacific front. 

 On August 15, 1945, Reid and 5,000 other GIs packed into a hangar near Naples to see a show starring the iconic singing trio the Andrews Sisters.

The show was interrupted by someone carrying a note. 

"Somebody came out and talked to one of the three [sisters]," Reid said. "We wondered what the hell is going on." 

When Patty Andrews announced the war with Japan had ended, bringing World War II to a close, the assembled troops went wild, Reid remembers. 

"[I] hollered as loud as I could, grabbed everybody I could and hugged them. This was getting your life back!"

Ft. Bragg Stories is a collaboration between the Fayetteville Observer and WUNC's American Homefront Project to commemorate a century of history at Fort Bragg through personal narratives. You can hear other stories in the series here. If you'd like to share your Fort Bragg story, you can send it here, or email fortbraggstories@wunc.org.

Bill Reid's induction papers
Credit Holly Reid