BU alumnus shares World War II memories
Baldwin City, Kan. — Seventy years ago this fall — a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese — Don Nutt enlisted with the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps two weeks after getting married and while working on the construction of a Phillips 66 refinery in Pampa, Texas.
"A buddy of mine tried to get in the Air Force and Merchant Marines, but he had an injured right hand," said Nutt, 91 and a Baldwin City resident since 1946. "I wasn't going to go if he didn't go. At the end of September, they froze all enlistments and that's when we decided to sign up for the ordnance."
During World War II, the Army Ordnance expanded the Corps' responsibilities to include production, acquisition, distribution and training missions for the Army Ground Forces, the Army Air Force, and, in, some cases, the Navy. A month before Nutt enlisted, the Ordnance Corps assumed responsibility for procurement and maintenance of all wheeled and motored vehicles. He served from 1942 to 1946 before coming to Baldwin City to attend Baker. Originally from Paola, he and his wife, Ruth Ann, who recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, have lived in Baldwin ever since. Don worked for Baldwin State Bank for 40 years until retiring in 1990 and served 19 years as a member of Baker's Board of Trustees.
During World War II, Nutt was stationed in Maryland, Florida and Alabama, training in the maintenance of motorcycles and Sherman tanks before heading overseas to Avon, France, and earning his highest rank as T5 (Technician Fifth Class). He also was an electrician and worked on carburetors.
Nutt remembers May 8, 1945, when the end of World War II was announced with the Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day). He was returning home on an overseas furlough.
"When we stopped at the train station in St. Louis they announced that the Allies had accepted the surrender of Nazi Germany," he said.
Nutt admires the dedication of the U.S. soldiers who served during World War II and the more than 400,000 who died for their country.
"You respect the sacrifices they made," said Nutt, passionate about his country and a member of the American Legion for more than 60 years.
Nutt's wife organized a trip for him and his sons, David, Mark and Michael, to travel to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day 2011.
"I placed a wreath at the Memorial, which was quite an honor," Don said. "I had a wonderful time with my sons. All the people there treated the World War II veterans like we were kings."