97-year-old WWII Veteran reflects on time in Army

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) —

Now 97-years-old, Marion Willis Shealy was 20 years old when she joined the Army.

Shealy became a Corporal in General Patton’s Third Army during World War II.

Shealy and her friend decided to join the Army walking home from a movie one night.

“She said, ‘You know, for 2 cents, I’d join the Army.’ I had the two pennies and we went in. I’m sure everybody has seen the Uncle Sam ‘I Want You’ picture? We were passing that picture when she said that,” says Shealy.

After six weeks of boot camp in Fort Des Moine, Iowa which she describes as “not a lot of fun,” and then 15 months stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia working in supply duty, she eventually deployed overseas to Heidelberg, Germany.

And while much of Germany had been disrupted during the war, Shealy says Heidelberg remained untouched.

“(There was) an agreement between England and Germany that if the Heidelberg University wouldn’t be destroyed, they wouldn’t destroy Oxford (University). So consequently the city of Heidelberg wasn’t touched,” Shealy says.

Heidelberg is also where Shealy says she found love at first sight, saying, “The man that ran the Quartermaster was a tall handsome blonde American. Well, six months later, the Sergeant and I were married.  And we had both signed up for a “Duration Six” and the “Duration Six” was passed. And so we took discharge and worked over there for 5 years for the Army.”

After five years in Germany, she and her husband Kenneth James Hess moved back to America where they would have their daughter Julia.

Since her time in the Army, Shealy has been awarded the World War II Victory Medal, and received the Quilt of Valor at the South Carolina State House.

When asked what advice she has for a life well lived, Shealy says, “When you lose someone that you love, naturally you go through a period of depression, but then get over it and get on with your life. Because life is for the living.”

Among other adventures, Shealy also went zip lining when she was 87 years old.

Categories: Lexington, Local News, Midlands Military Matters