Freedom Fighters: Phillip Pegues - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Phillip Pegues

(Source: KLTV) (Source: KLTV)

The glasses that Phillip Pegues wears in these old photos played a major role in his military service. 

Pegues had tried to join the U.S. Army soon after high school graduation but was turned down because of bad eyesight.

"I couldn't see very good. It was about 2/30 or something like that."

Although Pegues went to every recruit he could find, he was still turned down. Eventually, he sent a letter to the local draft board begging them to take him.

"I told them I wanted to go. Please get me in."

The letter finally worked and in February of 1942, Pegues was off to training camp, wearing glasses furnished by the Army.

"I went for a short training one place and then into the 87 Infantry and away we went."

Pegues arrived in France soon after the Normandy invasion. His duties alternated between manning a machine gun and driving a Jeep.

At times the Jeep proved to be the most dangerous of the two, especially when he was ordered to drive his open air Jeep to another base, pick up stacks of military newspapers, and return with them to his base.

"My hands and feet froze. it was 40 degrees below zero."

After getting treatment for his frozen hands and feet, Pegues was a driver for a Lt. Colonel who was surveying the battlefield. Halfway through their trip, they were stopped by an M.P. who warned them about traveling any further.

"He said, talking to the Colonel, Sir you can't go up that hill because if you do you're going to go across an open field."

It seems that the German soldiers on the other side had their guns trained on that open space.

"He looked at me and said, 'Are you willing to go over the top here.' I said, "let's go." When we got over the top of the hill, they started dropping stuff all around us."

Miraculously, Pegues and the colonel got through the barrage without a scratch.

That was also true of the heated battle Pegues was in, in the Ardennes Forest. Pegues also escaped injury in the Battle of the Bulge, where 19,000 Americans were killed and another 89,000 wounded.

In 1946, when the war ended, Phillips Pegues returned home, married his sweetheart, Doris, And spent the next 40-years working for the Boy Scouts of America. A

Always remembering his days as a soldier in World War II.

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