Howard Odom just celebrated 70 plus years of marriage and at 90 years of age, his mind is as sharp as ever. He recalls his short stint in the Army vividly as well as his two brothers. He is quick to tell you he was very fortunate, his brothers not so much so.
Odom reported to Camp Polk in March of 1947 and his time ended one year and four days later. He never had to face active duty. The war (WWII) was not over when he went in but it was very close and he was never deployed to an active war ground. He went through eight weeks of basic training before being sent to Fort Georgia G Mead in Maryland. “I was in a year and four days and the war was about over when I went in. Japan had already surrendered when I went in. I had two brothers ahead of me, and both of my brothers got shot up pretty bad. One of them got his whole right side shot up and seven or eight ribs on the right hand side. They were in during the war time. AB Odom was decorated. SB was the oldest brother and that was the one that got shot up the most. He went in on VD Day and he got shot, they shifted his rolls into him that day and he said when he went in the fox hole and it was wet and slimy and he got them rolls in and he got him a clean pair of pants and dry and all, said he felt like a new man. He got out of it the next morning and he raised his arm like he does and when he raised his hand and a guy that was in a tree about four or five hundred feet from him, cut down on him and he shot them ribs out and shot his right lung out. He never did have but one lung when he came home. He was out for a month before he got back to life again and then he was sent to Montgomery. He went two or three places before he come out. I went to see him three or four times while he was in Montgomery and Birmingham. He and my other brother died pretty quickly after they come home. Back at that time, the rules were blind, because now if you had two brothers in service they wouldn’t call you to service. I never checked that out. Those two brothers of mine lived a short time, not real short. They lived until about 50 years ago, maybe 60. They died but AB was the one that was decorated and he never got shot. They shot his feet out from under him. He was over in the Marines and the lieutenant or the captain told him to send somebody to knock out that machine gun and they had orders to hold that and under no circumstances were they to let it go on that island. And when he told him to send the men around there to knock out the machine gun net, it was dark and he said he couldn’t send nobody because he thought nine out of ten, it was chances that some of his men would get killed because he had already had some get killed. He knew all the families and he told them he’d go do it. He took five hand grenades along with him. He was always a good baseball player when he was a boy at home. He called on the ground and he throwed the hand grenade into the machine gun net and he threw further in and it went off and blowed the whole thing up. Some of them was still alive, some of the men were. He helped put the flag up at Iwo Jima, he was a part of that.”
Odom says he had it easy compared to others, “Everybody was coming out of the service, out of active duty as I was coming in to the service. When I was at Fort Georgia G Mead, I found a guy, he was a nice boy, he didn’t drink and I felt like I could stay with him. My wife had gone back to Camp Polk and he like I said was a nice boy.” Both Howard and Eunice Odom recall hard times but are very positive about them. Mrs. Odom said, “We didn’t have any dishes or anything,” to which Mr. Howard Odom replied, “We didn’t need any, we were all right.” Mrs. Odom said, “Howard was going to borrow some money from one of the guys to buy some dishes but nobody had any money and that day I got mail and had some money from my mother and I bought us some dishes.” Mr. Odom was very adamant about the reason no one had any money, “It was late in the month and everyone was short because money was hard to come by.”
Odom has a letter that he’s kept to this date signed by President Harry S. Truman.
When asked how he’s feeling today, Odom says, “I’ve been feeling pretty good this week. You know I’m blind so I can’t go out in the yard or sit on the dock but I’m feeling pretty good.” Odom acknowledges he has great memories of his view of the Millpond and his hard and is grateful for those.