A Stripe For A Wife

Bev Whiting (1944)

Richard Beverley “Bev” Whiting is a life-long resident of Clarke County.  He graduated from Berryville High School in 1937 and enrolled at Hampton-Sydney College.  In 1940, his father died suddenly, so Bev dropped out of college to return home and operate the family’s coal, feed, and seed business.

Since the business was considered a critical industry, Bev was given a draft deferment at the start of World War II.  However, as he saw all of his friends enter military service, he felt guilty and volunteered for the draft.  He was only deemed eligible for the draft after convincing Mr. John O. Hardesty to operate the family business during his absence.  In September 1943, he was drafted into the Army and shipped to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for basic training.

During basic training, the soldiers were surveyed to see if any had typing skills.  Since Bev had taken a typing class in high school, he was selected for training as a company clerk.

After basic training, he was sent to Camp Forrest near Tullahoma, Tennessee, for artillery training.  He was then sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for training as a company clerk.

In early 1944, he was assigned to Battery C, 537th Field Artillery Battalion, stationed at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma.  Camp Gruber was near Muskogee and about an hour from Tulsa.  Bev served as the company clerk for the battery.  However, serving as company clerk did not excuse him from the mandatory field training activities.  He would do his clerk work early each morning and then report for regular duty with his battery.

On weekends, Bev would attend dances sponsored by the USO.  Young ladies would be brought in from Tulsa to dance with the soldiers.  They were forbidden to have any contact with the soldiers outside the dances.  However, Bev became interested in one of the young ladies and managed to get her address and telephone number.  He spent every free day he could get over the next six months traveling to Tulsa to see her.

In August 1945, he convinced his first sergeant to give him a three-day pass so he could marry Miss Lorene Winn.   This marriage, like the many thousands of “war-marriages”, was influenced by the emotions and uncertainties evoked by the war.  The marriage lasted over twenty years and produced three wonderful children, Sally, Beverly, and Bill.

Corporal Whiting would only see his new bride when he could get a three-day pass.  On one such occasion, he missed his bus back to the camp and arrived two hours late.   His punishment was a reduction in rank to private first class.  His first sergeant promised him that he would get his stripe back, but he never did.  It cost him about $20.00 per month in pay for the remainder of his military service.  Bev is still a little bitter about not getting back his stripe.

He remembers the day that President Franklin Roosevelt died.  When the announcement was made of the President’s death, Camp Gruber was also being hit by a tornado.   Bev remembers that it seemed like the world was coming to an end.

After the surrender of Germany, Bev’s unit was training and preparing for deployment to the Pacific.  However, Japan surrendered before they were shipped out.  He spent the next six months typing discharge papers for returning GIs.

In February 1946, it was Bev’s turn to be discharged.  His first sergeant tried to convince him to re-enlist for a tour of duty in Puerto Rico, but Bev decided to accept his discharge and to return to Berryville with his new bride.   Since he was not permitted to type his own discharge papers, he was sent to Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, where another company clerk prepared his discharge.

Bev is proud of his service during the war.  Like most veterans, he did not like military life, but does appreciate the maturing and learning experience it provided.  He also realizes that he was very fortunate in the duty assignments he received.  Most of the young men who went through basic training with him were shipped to Europe and participated in the D-Day invasion and the war against Germany.

After the war, he operated the family business until 1953 when his mother sold it.  For the next three years, he worked several jobs in sales-related fields.  In 1956, he purchased the Berryville News Stand which he operated for almost 25 years.

In 1970, Bev married Henrietta Renshaw Card, a young divorcee with six children.   Bev and Henri have been mainstays of our community ever since.

Bev has been an active member of Post 41 for sixty years.  He has held almost every leadership position in the Post including Commander three times.  He is also active in his church and other civic organizations.  He is held in the highest esteem by all who know him.

This entry was posted in About Our People. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.