MEET OUR VETERANS: George Tidmore- Wills Point
Wills Point resident George Tidmore was born in Murchison Texas, July 27, 1923. He will be 96 in July. “He had four brothers and two sisters.” According to his son Michael. He has a brother named Don, who still lives in Lewisville. Don was in the Navy. One of the brothers was a step brother. All the brothers served in the military, except they were not sure if the half-brother served or not. One of the brothers, Bill Tidmore, served in the in Navy. Clyde Tidmore served in the Army, and GS Tidmore, was the half-brother. He also had two sisters, Martha Dell Harmond of Garland, and Nell Boyd from Van. Martha Dell and Don are the only ones still living. “
“My dad, according to George, was a farmer and ran a cotton Jin and raised cows. I worked on the farm with him. I also picked and baled cotton. I did that for several years and then we moved to Chandler. We had a guy who wanted us to grow corn for him and we also had a chicken farm. We stayed there for about three years and then daddy went to work for a rancher. He ranched and raised vegetables. The rancher was a rich man and he was an oilman. He took care of his cows. “
“I remember me and my mamma and daddy were sitting at the eating table when we heard on the radio that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, said George. “Oh, my goodness they are having a war,” yelled my mama. “We gathered around and started praying.”
George was drafted into the Army in 1948 and served until 1951, and then served five years in the Army Reserve. He remained stateside during his entire career. George went to boot camp in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. “When I was drafted they called me up and at the time I had a hernia. The doctor said the hospital was full and there were lots of wounded people coming back from the war. They ended up sending me to Ft. Benning, Georgia where they operated on me. I stayed in Ft. Benning for a year and trained. I was a drill instructor.”
Camp Benning was established in October 1909, after President Woodrow Wilson called for a special session of Congress. Among many other units, Fort Benning was the home of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. They were trained at Fort Benning but did not deploy overseas and never saw combat during World War II. During this period, the specialized duties of the Triple Nickel were primarily in a firefighting role, with over one thousand parachute jumps as smoke jumpers.
“I don’t know why they picked me to be a Drill Instructor. I guess because I was tall. I was always the tallest GI and always had to go to the front. The hardest thing I had to do was stack rifles. They were the M1’s. We were in a jeep when we went to pick up the paratroopers. We picked them up from all over the place. We had a 30-caliber mounted in the back of the jeep and I told the boy with me to shoot those airplanes down and keep them away from me,” he laughs.
“I was a D.I. in Ft. Smith, Arkansas for about six months. While in Ft. Benning Georgia we did a lot of training. I hauled and picked up military gear and we would go out to the warehouses in Ft. Benning. The paratroopers were there and we would sit for hours just watching them jump out of those planes. When they jumped we would haul them back to the base. That was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen, to watch those paratroopers jump out of the plane in unison.”
George received his orders to ship over to Korea while stationed in Ft. Benning. The Army sent him to Seattle, Washington to board a ship. “I was kind of mad at them in Seattle. All my friends were going to Korea, and I wanted to go with them. Master Sargant came along and I was tall and weighed 234 lbs.” and I said, “I ain’t going to fall in line.” He pulled me out of the line, and said, “step out here, I want to talk to you. He sent me down to a bunch of AWOLs’ and I had to guard them. I was a glorified babysitter,” he laughs. “I was ready to leave that place. Some of my friends made it back and some got killed over in Korea.”
“When I was in Seattle we were asked to be shipped back to the closest base to home, and I put Fort Polk. When I got my orders, they sent me to Aberdeen, Maryland. I stayed there another three months before I got a discharge. After the regular Army I joined the Reserve for another five more years. I didn’t like the Army at first. I liked it when I went back. I almost reenlisted. A Colonel called down and said he could transfer me to any station I wanted to go. We will give you a raise, and the GI Bill, and I came within an inch of signing up. I went home and thought it over, but decided to go into the rose business.”
“My old boss said he saw that I drove a truck in the service. He said I will hire you if you want to come to work. I took the job and worked for him and drove a truck delivering roses.” George drove a rose truck for Breedlove Nursery in Tyler. They are still in business today.
“Roses are a big deal. You got to cut the stems, then you got to bud it to make a rose.” George was in the Army Reserve at the time and left periodically to be with him Army unit. “A guy that was going to help us sold our roses for a nickel a bush. It made us mad, but there wasn’t anything we could do. “
“Me and my brother eventually got into the nursery business in Tyler. My brother served 13 years in the Navy. At one time he and I had over 60,000 roses. “After working in the rose business with his brother, George worked for the Cotton Belt Railroad as a truck driver. At the time they were owned by Southwest Transportation Freightliners. “I worked there for 31 years.”
“His memory is really good,” said his son Michael.
His memory is better than mine. He is a great guy and was always a hard worker. We were not rich but we had a very comfortable life. There was always food in the house and a roof over our heads.”
I asked George the secret to his longevity, “I lived to be 95 because I had a good job. When I got sick people put me in the hospital. I had lot of people take care of me. The railroad took care of me. I have been blessed with a lot of friends.”
“I had a good life, really. Me and my wife had a good life. She worked at the schoolhouse for 20 years. I retired when I was 61. When Cotton Belt sold out, I didn’t need to work anymore. So, I retired early.”
“There are still more things I want to do in life. I still want to go fishing. We have a place on Palestine. Me and my brother like to put out the trotline and catch catfish.”
According to Michael, “he loved to fish with Uncle Bill and Uncle Don. I don’t do as much fishing as I used to,” said George. “He loves to mow the lawn. He mowed last May 2018. He has a riding lawnmower and mows three acres. He loves to ride on that riding lawnmower. No hobbies, just ride on the lawnmower. He Is now 95 and still mowing, mowing those three acres,” according to his son Michael.
We can all wish to still be mowing the lawn when we are 95. Thank you, George Tidmore, for your service to our country.
GOD BLESS OUR VETERANS AND GOD BLESS AMERICA
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“Every Veteran has a story to tell.” Phil Smith
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