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Mrs. Cordie's Soldier Son

A World War II Saga

By Rocky R. Miracle; Edited by M. Hunter Hayes; Foreword by Lewis H. Carlson

Publication Year: 2008

The story of D.C. Caughran Jr., Mrs. Cordie’s son, could be that of almost any soldier in World War II. He left the comfort of home and family to become part of one of the defining conflicts of modern times. The letters he wrote home tell his story from the day he received his draft notice in the summer of 1942 through battle, capture, wounding, imprisonment, and his eventual return home for recuperation and discharge. Author Rocky R. Miracle, the son-in-law of D.C. Caughran, tells not only Caughran’s story, but at the same time the story of “the home folks” who anxiously watched for letters from their “soldier boy” and wrote faithfully of their love and prayers for his safety. This home-front narrative also stands as an important and deeply personal record of life in wartime. Taken prisoner during the German breakout of December 1944 that led to the Battle of the Bulge, D.C. was force-marched past corpses lining the road into Germany, loaded with other American prisoners into boxcars, and held in a prison camp during the coldest European winter of the century. He suffered starvation rations and hepatitis and was hospitalized after his liberation, though doctors were doubtful that he would recover. However, with time and care, he returned to health, was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, and lived a long, productive life. This intimate portrait of an American family—at home and at war—during a time of world upheaval is at once heartwarming, sobering, and entertaining. Mrs. Cordie’s Soldier Son is highly recommended for readers interested in World War II, the POW experience, and home-front literature.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

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Series Editor's Foreword

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pp. ix-x

Since its inception in 1997, the Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life has provided an array of textual images—snapshots, as it were—that capture and chronicle life in the East Texas region. To date we have published volumes on the cotton and cattle industries, outlaws and vigilantes, and other subjects that illuminate the diversity of life in the area. At the heart of these individual volumes and the series as ...

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Foreword

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pp. xi-xiv

The myths engulfing what it means to be a combat soldier or a prisoner of war both reflect and influence our popular culture. The result is a collective memory of how men at war are supposed to act. Consider, for example, the immortal words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson: “Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die.” Although his “Charge of the Light Brigade” provides an inspirational message for a ...

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Preface

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pp. xv-xvi

I have written and rewritten this preface several times, and no matter how often I rework it, I doubt that I will ever be satisfied. This document started out as a “telling” of the World War II experiences of my sons’ maternal grandfather. However, as I proceeded, it became impossible to tell the whole story because I doubt anyone knows the whole story. It has its beginnings in the tiny town of Chisholm, on ...

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The Beginning

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pp. 1-11

Weighing approximately 160 pounds, D.C. Caughran Jr. was five feet, ten inches tall. With his somewhat wavy brown hair, blue-gray eyes, and quick smile, he easily made friends. This ability was due in large part to his role as the youngest sibling and only son, as well Caughran Sr. and Cordelia Johnston Caughran. He was raised in the neighboring, and much smaller, Chisholm, a community about ...

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Camp Wolters

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pp. 12-31

The first notice to the family regarding D.C. and his entry into the U.S. Army was a standard-form postcard: July 23, 1942, Cordelia Coughran [sic] at General Delivery, Chisholm, Texas, receives notice from the Dallas,Texas, Induction Station (War Department, the Adjutant General’s Office) that D.C. (Army Serial No. 38,119,554) is accepted for active military service...

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"Over Here"

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pp. 32-51

At Camp Wolters, D.C. was replaced by a WAC. His eyesight could not be corrected with or without glasses; however, he qualified for a combat unit and remained in the U.S. Army. Several times D.C. attempted to obtain government-issued eyeglasses (in fact two pairs), but the U.S. Army would not issue glasses unless they resulted in improved eyesight. As a result, he wore his civilian glasses. Because D.C. had good office skills, he received additional training ...

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Northern France

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pp. 52-67

As the invasion of continental Europe appraoched and the soldiers were consolidated into tent camps closer to the southern English coast, the “soft life” that D.C. and others had enjoyed in the last several weeks was gone. They now had to do their own laundry, and they used their mess kits daily for U.S. Army-produced meals. The Red Cross gave each soldier a little bag to hang around his neck so his ...

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Clervaux

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pp. 68-77

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is no larger than many of the counties in the United States. It is largely bordered on the east by Germany, on the south by France, and on the west and north by Belgium. When the war in Europe began, Luxembourg, with its four-hundred-man army, declared its neutrality. Unfortunately, Hitler had other plans and “absorbed” it into the Third Reich on May 10, 1940. ...

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First Snow

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pp. 78-82

On November 9, 1944, Clervaux got its first snow.1 It was a snow that got heavier with time. The staff soldiers were glad they were not in the field and knew how fortunate they were. They did not realize that northern Europe was about to experience one of its worst winters in decades. Shortly after this, D.C. got a pass for a two-day trip. Their French officer took members of the unit to Paris for a “night on the town”:...

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December 16

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pp. 83-95

Before December 16 both the 28th and 106th divisions sent reports to U.S. Army headquarters and intelligence groups regarding increased vehicular activity in the German sector. However, little action resulted from the receipt of this information. In fact, the 28th discounted its own intelligence by referencing a similar level of activity three weeks earlier, when an enemy unit pulled out of the area and ...

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Dearest Junior

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pp. 96-101

Certainly D.C. was not wrong about how his parents would react to the situation. The news was worse than they could have imagined. They knew nothing of D.C.’s condition, and it was the not knowing that almost killed them. All they knew was that they had not heard from their son in several days. The Germans had mounted a major counter offensive somewhere near him and had thus probably overrun ...

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The Long Walk

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pp. 102-112

The reality of the situation did not hit D.C. until he was shoved from the post office basement out into the narrow street of Clervaux by the muzzle end of a German rifle. Fortunately, the rifle did not have a bayonet on it. The muzzle seemed to penetrate the area between his shoulder blades, but it was more the brutal nature of the treatment and the knowledge that he and the others could expect no gentleness ...

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The Camps

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pp. 113-126

Letters and postcards were the only connection between prisoners and their families. The latter received mailing information that stated the importance of using Form 111, which was available at Red Cross chapters and post offices and had free postage. The Red Cross pointed out that for several years the British had usd these forms for letters and that the Germans seemed to process them much more quickly than the ...

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Going Home

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pp. 127-135

Near the end of April, 1945, Mrs. Cordie received the following telegram, which brought the good news that her son had been liberated. At last D.C. was safe. With the family, he was the eternal optimist and was soon on his way home. He hoped to celebrate his sister Mildred's birthday with her on July 4...

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Ward 168

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pp. 136-145

Medically speaking, D.C. was not fit. His hair still felt like straw. His wrists were bony, and his stomach was indented as a result of the severe hunger. After only a few days at home on what was to be an extended leave, he grew much sicker. On Saturday, June 2, D.C. was sent to Ashburn General Hospital in McKinney, Texas, about thirty ...

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Discharge and A Civilian

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pp. 146-147

In November 1945 Staff Sgt. D.C. Caughran Jr. reported to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, with the express purpose of being discharged from the U.S. Army. Fort Sam was where many Texas soldiers went to obtain their discharge—in both wars. My grandfather, who served in France in World War I, was discharged at Fort Sam Houston, and my father was discharged there upon his return from the Pacific in World ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 148-158

The 28th division survived the Battle of the Bulge. Since its arrival in Europe in 1944, the Keystone Division had participated in five major campaigns: Normandy, northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland, and Central Europe. After Germany surrendered, the 28th, along with several other U.S. Army divisions, prepared to enter the war in Asia. However, after Japan’s surrender in September 1945, the division was deactivated from federal service on December 13, 1945....

Notes

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pp. 159-164

Bibliography

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pp. 165-168

Index

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pp. 169-174


E-ISBN-13: 9781603443951
E-ISBN-10: 1603443959
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603440295
Print-ISBN-10: 1603440291

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 22 b&w photos. 2 maps.
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce

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Subject Headings

  • Caughran, D. C., 1921-1989 -- Correspondence.
  • Prisoners of war -- Germany -- Biography.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Prisoners and prisons, German.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American.
  • Prisoners of war -- United States -- Biography.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Western Front.
  • Prisoners of war -- United States -- Correspondence.
  • Prisoners of war -- Germany -- Correspondence.
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