Hollywood put hundreds of stories of World War II on the silver screen, depicting just about every major conflict in the Pacific and European theaters. Take for example, The Longest Day, Saving Private Ryan, about the Normandy beach invasion on D-Day, or A Bridge Too Far, about the daytime jump I nthe operation called Market Garden.
For one local man, jumping out of planes into hostile territory wasn't acting - Bryan's Louis Hudson lived it. A member of the 82nd airborne division, Hudson jumped in several major battles on the European front during World War II.
Louis Hudson was enrolled at Texas A&M University in late 1941 when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States headlong into World War II.
"I was in the campus theater. We didn't have a whole lot of things to do Sunday afternoon, and we were at the movies. The place was loaded, every seat was taken, and they stopped the movie, turned on the house lights and the manager came out on the stage and said, 'We just had a phone call that the American navy has just been destroyed at Pearl Harbor by Japanese aerial attacks and we think that we will have to go to war."
Unlike some, Hudson opted not to drop everything and head to the other side of the world, on a moment's notice.
"We were encouraged to stay in school. We were in reserve officer training and we were exempt, and later we were put on active duty in school and we would eventually go into officer training."
One afternoon at the theater, Louis Hudson was saw a news reel about the Fort Benning paratroopers, that changed his life forever.
"I told my roommate, 'You know, I'd really like to do that,' and he said,'You're crazy!' Well anyway, I went to the library and read everything I could about early paratroopers, military paratroopers, and I never forgot it, and I wanted to do it, and eventually, I did."
"...I was able to volunteer and go to Fort Benning and receive parachute training, and then I volunteered for overseas replacement, it's called. And I was sent to the 82nd airborne in England that had been brought up from Italy and preparing for the D-Day Operation."
Hudson jumped many times over the course of his service, but one that he recalls vividly, is waiting for the D-Day jump in the early morning hours of June 6th, 1944, before the amphibious invasion on the beaches of Normandy.
"...the Colonel brought the chaplain around, and the chaplain talked to us and he read from the Bible - from the chapter that Isaiah wrote - about "Young men will mount up on wings like eagles, and they will be able to run and not be weary, and walk and not faint," and he said 'This means you!' and he gave us a pep talk and prayed for us and told us to get on our knees and pray for ourselves, because many of us would soon meet our maker face to face, and..."
"We got the signal, we stood up, hooked up and our jump master, Lieutenant called us to stand at the door, we got the pilot, gave us the red light which means we were approaching our drop zone, he gives us green light and here we go out..."
Hudson served in many major battles in Europe and there were many losses suffered on all fronts during World War II. Louis Hudson had arguably one of the most dangerous and most elite jobs during the conflict, and he takes pride in saying that he was lined up right next to some of America's finest.
"I certainly don't consider myself a hero but I knew many, brave brave men. Many who died, many who were wounded, many who survived. And I never will forget it. I can't..."
For Voices of Veterans, I'm Tom Turbiville.
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