BY JUSTIN MINYARD
Although it was nearly 70 years following the closure of World War II, Howard Miskelly was invited to the Mississippi Capitol to receive not only a Bronze Star for his involvement in the Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns, but also a commemorative US flag shielded by a wooden and glass shell.
"Howard Miskelly is one of the great generations that would have never told you he was a hero â€” that would never have thought of himself in that way," Gov. Phil Bryant said at the Jan. 17 award ceremony. "Like hundreds of thousands and millions of young men and women, he simply went to the call of his country, and he did so with honor and valor."
Miskelly heard the call to action in 1943, and on his birthday, July 17, he and his father made a trip to speak with the chairman of the draft board to jot down his John Hancock, which would later cement his place in the 102nd Infantry Division as a replacement foot soldier.
Miskelly said the chairman of the draft board made a motion to grant him a 6-month deferment due to him being an instrumental worker at his family's farm, but his father wasn't having it.
"Daddy straightened up in that seat and said, 'Mr. Jones, we don't want no deferment, we want to do our part. Don't we, bud?'" Miskelly said. "I said, 'Yes sir, daddy.'"
But signing up for the draft was a concept that Miskelly said he saw coming from years past.
"After you think about it a year or two, it's just something you feel that's going to happen â€” you got to do it," Miskelly said.
When September of 1943 rolled around, Miskelly was officially inducted into the United States Army at Camp Shelby. He then progressed to Camp Wolters in Texas for his sting in basic training.
After basic training, Miskelly said he encountered the "worst living" he "ever had" in Louisiana as he and others practiced maneuverability exercises.
"I spent 30 or 40 days in the swamps of Louisiana without going in a house," Miskelly said. " ... Every night we marched â€” we weren't going anywhere, we were just playing combat â€” and (the instructors) would put a little thing ... on the back of your pack. At night you could see it. It was one teensy light â€” you couldn't see it from the right or left."
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