Growing up on a farm in Henry County, Private 1st Class (Ret.) Fredrick Newby, 98, said he had responsibilities since he was six years old.
Newby grew up helping plow the fields, milk the cows and feed the chickens so when he was drafted into the Army in May of 1942, he accepted his new responsibility.
“I didn’t fight it,” Newby said. “I thought it was my patriotic duty for me to serve so I did my best at whatever I was assigned.”
The draft letter came just a little while after Newby had finished high school.
“(I was) just a local boy and as soon as I got out of high school, they grabbed me,” Newby said.
He said that neither parent objected to him going off to war and he left for Fort McClellan.
He described boot camp as “okay.” Newby talked about some of the things he learned at boot camp like how to low crawl, but he said the way he learned to walk guard was the most memorable.
“We used baseball bats to walk guard at boot camp,” he said chuckling. “Once we went overseas they issued us our carbines but we learned by walking with baseball bats.”
After basic training, Newby would be stationed at Oahu, Hawaii and then later to Iwo Jima in Japan.
Newby said he was assigned jobs such as working in the post exchange, walking guard, heading the laundry line, unloading and loading supplies and spent most of his time with the quartermaster section.
He said that he remembers unloading supplies while stationed at Iwo Jima.
“Believe or not, we were getting ready to invade Japan,” Newby said.
Newby also talked about the post relay system that was used when he was walking guard.
“Post 7 would call Post 6 and say, ‘This is Post 7 calling Post 6, relay this message to the next post,’” Newby said. “And then Post 6 would call Post 5 and it would keep going until it got to Post 1 where the guard house was. Each post had one phone and it was for calling the other posts.”
While stationed away, he said that the money he received, he would send back home to his family. He said he would also play cards with other soldiers and that some soldiers spent all their money on cards.
“We’d sit down and play cards and I’d tell them, ‘This war is going to be over soon,’” Newby said. “And they’d say ‘No it’s not.’ And then I’d ask them, ‘What are you going to do when this war is over and you ain’t sent money home?’”
Newby said he was also popular with the other soldiers he was stationed with.
“I had a lot friends in the Army,” Newby said.
He said that fellow soldiers would come to him for advice about problems they were having. Some of the questions would even be about the Bible. Since his father was a minister, Newby said that soldiers would ask him questions about the Bible and he’d sit down and talk with them. He recalls what he told a fellow soldier when the soldier asked him to get God to move a mountain.
“When the Bible says ‘God can move mountains,’ it doesn’t mean he’ll move the physical mountain,” Newby said. “It means he’ll show you the way to get to the top or get over that mountain.”
He said that he always kept a copy of the New Testament and he kept it on his person.
After 30 months overseas, Newby was the first of his company to get to come back home on leave. It was at this time that Newby was told that he had enough points to go ahead and get out of the Army if he wanted.
And so he left in 1945 after three years and 18 days in the Army and came to Enterprise. His first job out of the Army was at Sessions Peanut and then at Fleming Cleaners. After those two jobs, he would work on Fort Rucker for 40 years where he worked his way up from ward attendant to a clerk.
“They wanted me to stay until I was 70,” the 98-year-old man said, talking about when he retired from Fort Rucker. “I still have people come up to me and say that I was their cook when they were there.”
Newby said after the war and all these years, he still stands by something he told his brother after the war.
“I don’t know nobody I hate or wish them bad,” Newby said. “I still say that.”