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Oklahoma veteran recalls wartime Thanksgiving

William Harper, 88, of Okmulgee, said military cooks managed to provide a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving for U.S. Amery soldiers on the front lines in Germany in 1944.
BY THERESA GREEN Published: November 22, 2012

— William Harper, 88, was far from the comforts of his Oklahoma home on Thanksgiving Day in 1944.

Harper, then 20, and other U.S. Army soldiers were on the front lines of World War II, searching for the enemy in villages throughout the German countryside.

“We had just captured a village and were cleaning our mortars when a German soldier hiding in a nearby orchard fired on us,” said Harper, a resident of Rebold Manor in Okmulgee.

“The German hit one person, but the bullet hit his bandage kit in his back pocket, so he wasn't hurt too bad and he never left the front line.” The German soldier was quickly captured, and Harper and his unit all hoped the day's excitement was over.

The next surprise was an even bigger shocker for them: a taste of home on a cold, damp day. Harper said they were told the cooks were bringing them Thanksgiving dinner.

“I don't know how they did it, but the mess sergeant and his crew brought us a nice Thanksgiving dinner,” Harper said. “We had turkey and dressing and vegetables. It was whatever they could find.”

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