Editor’s Notes – Clarke County Democrat

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Military food, military food, gets little respect.

But the late Oscola Skipper of Grove Hill, a World War II veteran, told me years ago about his first Thanksgiving meal working for Uncle Sam and it was memorable.

He didn’t have to rely entirely on Oscola’s memory; he had a 1942 menu for Company D of the US Army’s 33rd Armored Division when he was stationed at Camp Pickett, Virginia.

The menu featured Virginia Baked Ham, Roasted Young Turkey, Oyster Dip, all the trimmings including a variety of desserts, as well as cigars and cigarettes (remember, this was long before smoking fell out of favor!).

“He was first class,” recalled Skipper, a country boy from Clarke County.

He said his company had just come off maneuvers in the California desert and the meal was a treat he never forgot.

The menu was one of Oscola’s most prized possessions. It included a list of everyone in D Company. Skipper had check marks from those who were good friends or those who were killed or wounded in World War II.

Oscola was one of the “Greatest Generations”. He was drafted on January 14, 1942. His company was to be sent abroad in September 1943, and that year he had Thanksgiving in England. He said the food was good but not as good as what he had at Camp Pickett.

D Company was part of the massive invasion of Europe in June 1944. Oscola’s unit was one of the first to enter Germany.

Oscola was shot in the neck and returned to Wales where he underwent surgery and was sent home. Thanksgiving Day 1944 was celebrated in Wales. On Christmas Day 1944, he was aboard a ship crossing the Atlantic to the US The war would soon be over.

Skipper would go into the retail business and in later years would operate the Town ‘n Country Men’s Shop in Grove Hill. After retirement, he worked as an advertising sales representative for The Democrat.

Oscola, like so many World War II veterans, did not speak much about his service. He did his duty, came home and went to work. He raised a family (all girls!) and was a good member of the community, like many of his fellow ex-soldiers who were likely motivated by the horrors they had seen to better their lives, their families, and their communities. . and his nation.

I certainly don’t want a war, but sometimes I think we’ve become lax and complacent. We need something to spur us into action the way World War II moved our parents and grandparents.

Oscola would take me home for lunch sometimes and I remember the good food his wife, Mamie Jean, would put on the table.

Oscola and Mamie Jean are long gone. I often think fondly of them and others I knew so well that they are gone.

I am grateful to have known them and grateful for Oscola’s military service and the service of so many others, who have left and are still here.

These precious souls from the past remind me that I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday and a lot to try to live up to and a lot that I need to do.

I hope you are grateful too, and I hope your Thanksgiving meal is as good as Oscola says his was at Camp Pickett in 1942!

Jim Cox is editor and publisher of The Clarke County Democrat. Email him at [email protected]

Jim Cox

Jim Cox

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