MEET OUT VETERANS: C.A. Waites, U.S. Army (Canton, Tx)
C.A. Waites was born in 1927 in Myrtle Springs, Texas.
He had four sisters, Ethyl, Connie, Nada and Leona.
“My dad was a farmer and a carpenter and my mother was a housewife. I worked with my dad on building and repairing houses. We farmed 30 acres raising about six of those acres in cucumbers. I didn’t go to high school but I did play some baseball and volleyball. I just went fishing a lot and really liked to Bream fish in the creeks.”
C.A. was drafted into the Army when he was 18 years old. “I was out I the field hoeing sweet potatoes when I heard the Japanese had bombed us at Pearl Harbor. We listened to it on the radio. I didn’t like the Army very much. I had never been away from home, and I just didn’t like it. In the Army, I was married and making about $50 a month.”
C.A. and his wife Ann were married for about six months before he went into the service. “My dad had to sign for me and we got married in October 1945.”
C.A.’s wife Ann lives with him at the at the Country Place Senior Living facility in Canton. “We got married on October 13, 1945,” said Ann. “We will be celebrating our 74-year anniversary in October. I don’t remember what he said when he proposed. We were out picking peas in the field and went to the same church. His daddy had to sign for us to get married, his mother did not want us to get married. That was her baby and she did not want him to get married. But, it worked out well anyway,” said Ann laughing.
“She’s kind of a cute lady, and she’s smart and my best friend,” said C.A. “We didn’t have much of a wedding. I didn’t have the money to pay for the preacher so we got married on my brother in law’s front porch. She had three dollars to give to the preacher. I didn’t even have any money to get married with.”
“He would not have volunteered, he wasn’t old enough to go into the service,” said Ann. We got married and didn’t think we would go into the Army. His dad was crippled up then and he was the only son. We were surprised when they drafted him.”
After being drafted into the Army C.A. went to Camp Polk, Louisiana for boot camp. “I said greetings to the Drill Instructor and from then on he told me everything else I had to do. I had the mumps when I entered the service and had to go to the hospital. I spent about thirty days there and all the boys that were drafted with me, they had already shipped out. There were seven of us drafted and two of us were from Canton. They had me as AWOL. They didn’t realize I was in the hospital with the mumps, and I still haven’t found my discharge papers. They said there was a fire in 1973 and they lost all my records.”
The Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial has contacted Harry Fontenot, VZC veterans service officer to help in locating his papers. On July 12, 1973, a fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis destroyed records held for Veterans who were discharged from the Army and Air Force. The fire destroyed 80 percent of the records held for Veterans who were discharged from the Army between November 1, 1912 and January 1, 1960.
Exceptions: Records for retirees and reservists who were alive on July 12, 1973, were not involved in the fire.
The fire also destroyed 75 percent of the records held for Veterans who were discharged from the Air Force between September 25, 1947 and January 1, 1964 with surnames beginning with Hubbard and running through the end of the alphabet. If your records were destroyed in the fire, there is a specific request that we submit to the NPRC for any additional service records, or contact your Veterans Service Officer at (903) 567-7985. He is located at the Canton Courthouse, Room 205.
“We could not get anything from the Army for years and years because they said his papers were burned,” said Ann. “Some of the boys that shipped out with him, we tried to get some of them to help us prove he was in the military. He was in there,” Ann stated emphatically.
“I was stationed in Lebron General Hospital in New Mexico. I was a ward boy there. I did anything they needed me to do. The just appointed me to work at the hospital. They didn’t ask me, they told me,” said C.A. shaking his head.
One of the best times in the military was when C.A. went to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. “I worked at a dispensary in the morning and the afternoon I went out and watched the 82nd Airborne jump out of airplanes. If any got hurt, I gave them medication and hauled them back to the dispensary. I had no medical background and just learned in the dispensary. It was like an on the job training for me. I never left the states. I got discharged from Ft. Bragg and left the military for good. “I got a discharged in 1947 and moved back to Van Zandt County. I tried to enroll at a G.I. School on Highway 19 in Canton. I went to school on the G.I. Bill but I couldn’t get in. They said I was AWOL. I had a hard time proving I was ever in the military.
C.A. eventually went to Dallas and worked as a general contractor. I had a friend who worked for the Dallas Schools and he asked me if I wanted to work for the School district and I said yes. I worked for DISD for 34 years. I started off as a carpenter and moved my way up. They eventually made a supervisor out of me. I had a crew and went around remodeling the old schools. We went around from school to school to make sure the crews were doing what they were supposed to do. It was a great job and I enjoyed working there.”
C.A. retired in 1988 and he and Ann started travelling around the country in their RV. “We went on church trips and sometimes were gone two or three days. We stayed in friends’ homes. It was like a small revival. We went to Hawaii twice that way and once to Okinawa. We travelled all over the United States. Every year we went to the Cowboy Camp, a church group and we stayed for two weeks, in New Mexico.”
“We enjoyed everywhere we travelled,” said Ann. We travelled to a lot of churches. We were always in church work,” said Ann recalling their travelling days.
“I am 91 years old now,” said C.A. The Lord has been good to me, I guess.” What is the secret to being married for 74 years? “The secret to us being married so long is because of love,” said C.A. and Ann responded, “We were just made for each other,” as she looked over at C.A. he looked back with a gleam in his eye and smiled.
Yes, indeed this couple truly were made for each other.
Thank You C.A. Waites for your service to our country.
GOD BLESS OUR MILITARY AND GOD BLESS AMERICA
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“Every Veteran has a story to tell.” Phil Smith
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