NAME: Hunter M. Bishop, Jr.
DATE OF BIRTH: October 2, 1922.
PLACE OF BIRTH: Auciila, Florida.
PARENTS: Hunter M. Bishop, Sr. and Lyner Bishop.
SIBLINGS: Brother, James Ralph Bishop.
MARRIAGE: Mr. Bishop married before entering the service to Evelyn Lett Bishop.
CHILDREN: He has three children: Ramon Gary Bishop, Bruce Allen Bishop, and Tonni Bishop.
Hunter M. Bishop Jr., also known as Bill Bishop, entered the service when he was seventeen. He entered Army and became the a member of the first unit of the elite 82nd Airborne. He was part of three invasions. The invations were Sicily, Italy, and Normandy. Receiving two Purple Hearts and other medals, Mr. Bishop was one out of six men in his unit to survive the war. He was finally discharged on May 18, 1945. He attends reunions of his unit every year. The main thing I learned from him is the real meaning of being a man and how a real man should act and treat other people.
Mr.Bishop showed me this picture of him and Mrs. Bishop
Just after Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, “they” transferred about 1,000 of us young draftee rookie infantrymen from Camp Wheeler, Macon, Ga. To the air warning service of the Signal corps, attached to the army air force at Drew Field, Tampa Fla. After about three weeks, a friend of mine that worked in our little tent city office told me that “they are getting up a list to go to a place called Thomasville in Georgia, do you want to go?” I said: “Yeah, put me on it- I hadn’t the slightest idea where Thomasville was, but I had just spent a lousy Xmas in Tampa, Fla., in a tent city on the edge of a runway, slit trenches, field kitchens, water level and ground level the same, the whole shtick, and I knew that was all of that I wanted. So, 16 of us came up to Thomasville on the night train from Tampa, near midnight, January 5 or 6, 1942. We walked up the hill from the depot to its top at Broad and Jackson, toting our duffel bags on our backs. We were suppose to have quarters over Neel’s, but the door to the upstairs was locked, and we all spent the night in the lobby of the Tosco Hotel where Penny’s store now stands. Several of us decided to “see what the town looked like,” and walked out South Broad to where Jerger School now is where the Monticello Rd began. We said, “ well, guess this is it and walked back to the hotel lobby. The next day we moved over Neel’s. Later we had the whole second floor of the Tosco. Anyhow, the Filter Center occupied the entire 5th floor of the Upchurch Building except for Dr. Bell’s and Dr, Hollaway’s offices. 7 guards were sent to us from our Jacksonville headquarters, volunteered local ladies staffed all the day shifts in training, local men and high school boys staffed the night shift. Observer posts were established from near Jacksonville to near Pensacola, and those observer volunteers called in a reported flights of planes, which our ladies then placed arrows and informational “stands on our large table with multi phone outlets and a map painted over the table top of the entire area. Then our lady supervisors called in to Jacksonville any established flights, estimated speeds and altitudes, and the air force called up flights to practice intercepting our observed flights. We also had direct lines to Savannah Filter Center and Mobile, and could “hand off” our flights to them to go on their boards. Some of the volunteer ladies here who later became some of the first WACs, Women’s Army Corps Officers, were Wilhemina Mallette, Jeanne Parker, Flewllyn Flowers, Elizabeth Caldwell and Josie Neel. We had many other ladies who worked 4 hours a day on their shifts, 5 or 6 or more at a time. The whole operation was suppose to be a secret, but the Times-Enterprise ran a story with pictures of the “funeral” we had for a little dog mascot that something happened to. Some secret all in all. Our first officer, a Lt. Watrous, came with us on the train from Tampa. Our first NCOIC, Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, Staff Sergeant Malcolm Neznamy, was sent to us from Jacksonville, Ted Cooper, succeeded hum, and I succeeded Cooper, just before being called to Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning, one month after our marriage at St Thomas on September 3, `942. We were the second couple to live in the new McGavock “back apartment” which is where the new YMCA track has now been built. Some of Thomasville’s first soldiers since the Civil War (as one lady put it) were: Joe Briestone and Jerry Flinn from NY, Kramer from Pennsylvania (who dated up with a local belle), Larry Bryant, Lester Taube, Joe Barwicki, Jim Woodruff, Tom Sorrell from Mississippi (who later married Bootsie Braswell), Robert Lawhorne from Sopchoppy, I believe and is now retired from being a postmaster, Weiss, from Macon, Jim Brantley, who later married Elizabeth Harris from Thomasville (they were back here several years ago for her Thomasville High Class reunion), Sidney Newman, Dick Boldt, now a lawyer from Toledo, Ohio, who visited here several days ago with his wife on their way to a Florida vacation, Pvt. Gindlesperger, a guard whose .45 cal Army automatic accidentally put a hole through the 5th floor Upchurch ceiling one day at guard inspection, Mac Burns from Pelham who sang at our wedding (we were all in uniform- we weren’t allowed any “civvies”) and some others that Dick Boldt and I couldn’t recall. We all ate at the Crystal (Thomasville) Restaurant on the Upchurch Building ground floor, where the Slenderella Shoppe now is, “Shorty” Letchas was the owner, or at the Plaza where Chris Blane held sway- we got them to competing on our meal ticket books and alternated eating one each month at each place. The people of Thomasville were kind to us in every way- we had wild turkey cooked by “Shorty”, Glen Arven allowed some of us to play free, we attended several churches, there were some “young people” parties, etc. We all loved being in Thomasville and “the war” seemed very far away. However, some of us later went to various theaters, the South Pacific, European, etc. We were so young that the older fellows like Lawson Neel at 30 seemed completely out of it. This writer never got a scratch, or fired at the enemy (nor got shot at) and Lawson later got several Purple Hearts for battle wounds. C’est La vie! Dick Boldt says he has some pictures and a sketch of the Filter Center table that he will send me a copy of when he gets back to Toledo. This is a part of “the way we were” 40 years ago, here. -Julius Ariail
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