Hollis received his draft notice while working at Sears Roebuck at 15th and Cleveland in Kansas City in August 1944.
Hollis received his draft notice while working at Sears Roebuck at 15th and Cleveland in Kansas City in August 1944. Intending to be in training camp for 17 weeks, he was shipped overseas after 13 weeks, leaving from Boston on the Isle de France Ship, arriving in Glasgow, Scotland, on Jan. 16, 1945.
He was then sent directly to the front lines in northern France, where the temperature was 15 degrees below zero with 4 feet of snow. That same month he was assigned to Company L, 26th Regiment, First Division-Big Red 1 – where he stayed until the end of the war.
Hollis fought in the European Theatre, participating in the Battle of the Bulge. His company took two small towns in the Hurricane Forest, where they were met with heavy machine-gun fire, then crossed the Roer River. By March, the snow was beginning to melt and they crossed Hitler’s famous autobahn highway.
At one time in the same area, he and a buddy dug a foxhole in a rock quarry that soon filled with four inches of melted snow that was very cold for them both. When they attempted to leave the foxhole, snipers began shooting at them and while trying to cover themselves with tree branches, they were shot at by 88s and anti-aircraft guns. The captain called for air support, which ended up strafing Hollis’ company by mistake. Hollis survived but was wounded the next month and sent to the hospital for treatment. After three weeks, he and others were sent back to the front lines to resume fighting.
He remembers being in Czechoslovakia when hearing the news that the war was over and setting up road blocks to keep Germans from coming through our lines without being searched. Russians were about 35 miles from them and the Germans were between him and the Russians. The Germans did not want to surrender to the Russians, so they came to the border to surrender to U.S. troops.
After nearly four weeks, Hollis was sent to Nuremberg for the start of the war criminal trials where he would serve guard duty over the courthouse. This duty was split up between U.S., French and Russian soldiers all rotating days on, days off. On his off days Hollis would sit in the balcony and watch the trials as they proceeded.
Before the end of these trials Hollis was sent home and received the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, ETO Medal with two Battle Stars, WWII Medal, Army of Occupation Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. He received his discharge on July 2, 1946, and returned to his job at Sears, where he met his wife, Lola.
Hollis retired from Sears after 40 years. Lola and Hollis have two children, 8 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.
You may view Hollis’ military history in Veterans Hall in Truman Memorial Building, 416 W. Maple Ave.
– This is part of a weekly feature on local veterans submitted by Helen Matson, volunteer program director for the city of Independence