FORT HOOD, Texas, Nov. 10, 2004 — James H. “Bud” Spracklen was one of the 78th Infantry Division veterans who visited Fort Hood recently for a three-day reunion
Spracklen, 83, from Buchanan Dam, Texas, served during World War II, from Oct. 25, 1942 until Jan. 25, 1946. He was working for a contractor west of Fort Worth, when he was drafted. He went to basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., where he was one of six draftees out of 2,000 selected to be paratroopers.
“But they rejected me for airborne school, after they found out I had flat feet,” he explained.
Spracklen was then assigned to the 78th Inf. Div. at Camp Butner, N.C. From there, he joined the “the ears and eyes of the division,” 78th Cavalry Reconnaissance troop.
Spracklen’s unit embarked for Europe on the Flagship John Erickson, a converted luxury cruise liner that held roughly 6,000 soldiers. The journey took 16 days and the Soldiers debarked at South Hampton, England.
“Recon troops were the internal guard for all of the headquarters battalion at first,” Spracklen explained.
In October 1944, his unit took a boat trip into the mouth of the Sane River at Lahaan, Belgium. There, they received their equipment and made their way for Aachen, Germany, where the unit’s footmarch across Germany was set to begin.
“We expected, and were ready for combat at anytime,” he said.
His unit’s superiors made him a leader at the front because he was good at map reading and direction, he said.
Spracklen was wounded in a minefield during a battle for the heavily fortified Schwammenauel Dam at the Roer River in late January 1945, when he suffered shrapnel wounds to his legs. He caught up with his unit in March during the intense battle for the Rhine River at Remagen. After the battle, he said, his unit had a clear look of the Autobahn highway and made it to Wuppertal.
“There were white flags everywhere,” he said.