460th PFAB - D Battery
Herbert Jeff and Joe Stringfellow
I would like to reminisce about a very good friend of mine - Joe Stringfellow, who was in D Battery of the 460th.
Joe lived across the street from me in Birmingham, Alabama. We grew up together and were very good friends. When Joe was about 10 years old his father was killed in a hunting accident. Joe and his two older brothers worked all through school. Joe worked for Western Union delivering telegrams on a bicycle.
For some reason, Birmingham had an abundance of pool sharks. These were con-men who would get you in a pool game. They would perhaps let you win a few games. Then they would say, "Lets just make the next game interesting and bet a few bucks." Their goal was to play and increase the bet until the shark had all of the victims money.
Joe and I enjoyed trolling for pool sharks. We were both pretty fair pool players; but Joe was great. Sometimes the pool sharks were unhappy when these two kids won their money and they didnt want to pay us. But we always collected our money. Sometimes it required force. We showed them we could beat them on the pool table or out in the street. I am confident if we had not gone in the army we both would have been dead or in prison before we reached our 21st birthday.
When we were both 18 years old, Joe and I went in the service the same day and both volunteered for the paratroopers. We were sent from Atlanta, Georgia to Camp Toccoa on a train.
The procedure for the 460th was different from the 517th. After we passed the various physical tests as well as the interviews we were sent to Camp Mackall for our basic training. Joe was not accepted at first and didnt arrive in Camp Mackall until about three weeks after my arrival.
When we went to jump school, you made one jump a day for five days. Each day you would pack your chute for the next day. I helped Joe pack his chute after the fourth jump. We just threw it together.
The next day Joe had a complete streamer. He told me later he kept hearing the loud speaker on the ground saying, "check your canopy", "check your canopy." Joe said he thought someone must be in big trouble. He finally saw he had a streamer so he pulled his reserve and it fell between his legs.
About 300 feet from the ground, both chutes opened. Joe was knocked unconscious when he hit the ground. As the medics were getting him out of his chute, he jumped up and ran for the woods shouting, "Where is my damn squad leader?" He was caught and taken to the hospital but I dont think he ever recovered fully from that accident.
Joe had a hard time adjusting to Army regulations. He went AWOL several times. Just as the Airborne maneuvers were to begin, Joe was in the stockade. He had been given 6 and 2/3. This meant 6 months confinement and his pay was reduced by 2/3. Of course, he was not on jump status. Joe was released and told to return to D Battery. When he arrived, he received notice he was on jump status effective the next day.
Joe made a parachute jump early the next morning and that night he made a second jump. When he returned to the barracks there was a notice advising him he had been removed from jump status. Joe had made two jumps for one days jump pay. A day's jump pay was about $1.67. I dont know what our leadership thought this action would accomplish, but I know it did cause a soldier to have a very bad attitude.
Joe was not permitted to go overseas with the Combat Team. I dont know where the 460th failed, but we lost a good man by not developing Joe Stringfellow.
Later, Joe was assigned to guarding German prisoners as they were being shipped to the U.S. Joe had health problems the rest of his life and died in a Veterans Hospital in 1960.
I've attached a photo of me and Joe taken at Camp Mackall in 1943 (Joe's on the right).
HQ - 460th
Received October 2002