By Anthony Rhodes
Keith DeWyke was a Corporal in the 42nd infantry rifle company and he served in Europe.
After a little while we became comfortable talking to each other and Keith was more willing to share his experiences with me.
He was drafted during his freshman year of college at Emporia State University at the age of 18. He was offered a deferment to go back to the farm where he grew up, but instead decided the military was the best way for him to get away from the farm.
DeWyke had a number of stories to share, including one about how his Sergeant ordered him to clean the rifle of a man who was shaken up after witnessing a couple of men get wounded in combat.
He was cleaning the man’s rifle and had set it down next to him. He picked it up again, not realizing that instead of picking up the rifle he had been cleaning he picked up his own loaded rifle. He pulled the trigger of the rifle and fired a shot into the roof of the house they were in. He said this wouldn’t have been a problem if it hadn’t been for the fact that there was a commanding officer sleeping in the room directly above him. For the rest of the night and the following morning, “My only concern was if I had accidently killed the man above me” said DeWyke.
This story took a grim turn towards the end though, because DeWyke reveled that one of the men who had been wounded was one of his good friends from his platoon. The man had lost his leg. A tear rolled down his cheek as he was told this story. Nobody knew that Keith and this man were friends. That is why the sergeant ordered him to clean the other man’s rifle.
DeWyke was taken prisoner by German soldiers during a battle, luckily one of his artillery spotters saw them take him into the house and later his platoon came and rescued him.
Keith took a couple of things back with him from the war. These items included a couple of German marks, which were worthless, and a pocket watch he took off of a German prisoner, The watch was broken but he didn’t find this out until he got back home. Most importantly of all was his purple heart, which he received after catching a bullet in the leg during a firefight.
DeWyke was discharged from the Army in 1946. He began taking classes at Kansas State in the summer, and ended up graduating a couple years later with a degree in accounting.
Anthony Rhodes is a junior majoring in communication. You may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.