MHP Completes Another Veteran Oral History Interview
This past weekend, I had the honor to complete an oral history interview of World War II Veteran, Gerald Haviland, in his home in Caryville, Florida. Caryville is a small rural town in northwest Florida approximately ninety miles west of Tallahassee. Mr. Haviland who is 99 years old, was a Master Sergeant in the Ninth Infantry Division and worked as a radio operator for Headquarters Company, 60th Infantry.
Master Sergeant Haviland began the liberation of Europe by first invading its underbelly in Africa beginning with French Morocco. Gerald’s military service took him to Tunisia, Sicily and eventually the D-Day landings in Normandy, France. Gerald watched the D-Day invasion on June 6th from a ship and he stormed ashore a few days later on Utah Beach. After breaking through the hedgerows in Normandy, Mr. Haviland made his way through France and witnessed the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. While on the front lines, Master Sergeant Haviland observed a massive buildup of German tanks and called in his warnings to upper command. While Mr. Haviland’s warnings did not prevent the eventual German onslaught, it did however result in the removal of his unit from the area which prevented its destruction or capture. Until the end of the war, Gerald spent the last of his military service in the Rhineland and Central Europe on brief occupation duty.
Gerald Haviland was the recipient of two Bronze Stars, the Rifle Badge, Good Conduct Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, and the Campaign Medal with 8 Stars and 2 Arrowheads. Throughout the interview, I learned that Gerald was a bit of a free-thinker and rebel while in the Army which lead to some interesting exchanges with his commanding officers. Additional highlights include the capture of a German spy in his unit, holding out in town while totally surrounded, and seeing the Russians at war’s end.
Stay tuned for a video excerpt of the interview.