Remembrances: Radcliffe Peterson--Wake Up Call
In all of the years of reading the Rolling W there has been a shortage on news of young
men from the Eighth Air Force that served as replacements in our various units. Our
Company E received about 120 of them after our Rhine crossing at St. Goar.
I do think that other companies must have gotten a few of them as replacements, too.
Why has there been so little written about them? I do wish that at the next Reunion in the fine
city of Indianapolis that just some how we can get a few of them to show up.
We had a fellow trooper by the name of D. R. Hidalgo that was a professional lightweight boxer
hailing from Iowa. We had a few bull sessions with Ted Riggs and J. Finney. These troopers from
the Eighth Air Force won my respect right away. Hidalgo mentioned to me almost every day about
how he beat a lightweight by the name of Jackie Graves from Austin, Minnesota. He didn't beat
him once, but many times. My brother, Henry fought amateur as a lightweight and he knew Graves
pretty well. He told me that Graves was one of the best. Hidalgo was a nice friend and we talked about Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Red Martin another Air Force replacement was a good buddy of Hidalgo. One fine afternoon as we
Company E men were living it up in a large German farmhouse, a strange thing happened.
The structure was of wood and stucco, shaped like a letter L, huge and with the usual barn on
half of the first floor. There were living quarters on the second floor. Hidalgo and Finney and
a few of us were out in the front of the barn area. There wasn't much action going on and we
were aware of no Germans around. From the second floor window above us appeared "old sleepy
eyes", Red Martin. He yelled down to us. "Did one of you just call for me?" A voice had awakened
him. As we all looked at Martin, there was the sound of a couple mortar shells exploding in the room
where old Red Martin had been sleeping. We went up to look at the damage to the room.
It was a big mess; the wall was smashed in, the windows were all broken and there was a hole
in the roof. We had to admit that this had been one of Red Martin's lucky days.
I think to this day he hasn't forgotten this incident. He just missed being a K.I.A. Old Red Martin
had a chance to go home after the war, but he chose to stay overseas another six months. With
all his high points he could have gone home from Camp Lucky Strike in August 1945.
He wanted to be able to send perfume home to his sister in Los Angeles from Paris. A few other Air Force
men stayed on with him. Just how he made out with his sister who had a beauty salon in Los Angeles,
I never was able to find out.
This has been another story from my time files about the Odyssey Of the Eighty Ninth Division.