HAMILTON — During World War II, J.D. Jarvis got to see a lot of Europe, the hard way.
Born in 1924 in the coal mining country of Clay County, Ky., Jarvis traveled a lot between Manchester and his adopted city of Hamilton during his youth.
In 1942, when his country needed him, he returned to Manchester to enlist in the U.S. Army.
After training at Fort Meade in Maryland, Jarvis was assigned to Company K in the 359th Infantry Regiment. He received further training in Scotland and England, then found himself in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944 — D-Day.
“I was in Normandy on D-Day,” Jarvis said. “I was the first man to hit Normandy Beach. I was the No. 1 scout and Frank Haynes was No. 2.”
Haynes was from Covington, Ky., so the two were natural friends.
“We had all kinds of training and stuff, but we didn’t have any war experience” prior to the landing, he said. “It was bad. They were firing at us, and we were firing at them.
“There were bodies everywhere. After we got up on the beach, more help came in. I never saw another scout survive.
“We spent a day and a night on the beach,” he said. “We all had our jobs to do and we did it.”
After that, his company made their way to Antwerp, Belgium, where Jarvis received the first of his three wounds, this one on his lower right leg, from battle shrapnel, earning him the first of three Purple Hearts.
He received his second wound near Wiesbaden, Germany, this time near his armpit, as his company traveled from battle to battle.
“I was in so many places, it’s hard to remember them all,” he said.
The third wound would come back in Belgium, but it was a much bigger piece of shrapnel that struck him right above his right knee.
“They worked on me and couldn’t do a thing with the leg and wanted to take it off, but I wouldn’t let them,” Jarvis said. “Then a doctor from Lexington came in and said he was going to fix the leg tomorrow morning. He said ‘I don’t know how long it will take, but I’m going to clean all that out.’
“I told the other doctors, ‘You guys have messed around here on me, and here comes an old Briarhopper from Kentucky and he fixed it.’ But they did the best they could.”
That wound was severe enough to keep him out of battle for the rest of his stint.
“I gave the country everything I had, and God did the rest. A lot of people don’t want to give God the credit, but he sure enough brought me out of it.”
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