When veteran Paul Reedy joined the United States Army in 1941, World War II had not yet reached the United States.
He was just 17 years old and a recent high school graduate.
"I joined the Army right after I was done with school," he said. "I was only 17 when I went in so my folks had to sign the papers to let me join."
-Messenger photo by Emilie Nelson-Jenson
Paul Reedy, of Fort Dodge, shows a display case of medals he earned during his service in the United States Army during World War II. Reedy was wounded in action.
Reedy, now 91 years old, joined the service voluntarily, he said. Because he worked on a farm, he could have been exempt from the draft.
"I was working on the farm, I wouldn't have had to go," he said.
He trained with the National Guard at the Armory in Fort Dodge and he was inducted into the 34th Division 113rd Infantry, Second Battalion Company G of the Red Bull Division before being shipped to Camp Claiborne in Forest Hill, La., where he would remain until the United States became actively involved in World War II.
"That was before Pearl Harbor," said Reedy. "The war was really just getting started then."
From Camp Claiborne, Reedy's company was sent to Scotland and he then went to England where he completed training in the Officer Candidate School.
Once he completed Officer Candidate School, Reedy went back to Scotland, then to Ireland for training before spending several months in French North Africa in Algiers, Algeria.
"I was a runner and a radio operator while I was there," said Reedy.
From Africa, Reedy's unit sailed back to Europe to take on Italy in some of the more fierce combat he would see during his time in the service.
"We sailed in and made a landing at Anzio, Italy," he said. "From there we went all over and then went up to take Rome. There was lots of heavy combat there.
"The worst part is when you're under attack and you see all your guys dead or wounded," he said.
So many were wounded in Rome, Reedy said, that a cease fire was declared to pick up the dead and wounded.
"It didn't last too long," he said. "At 5 o'clock they started right back up with the shooting again."
Reedy was also a sharpshooter and a sniper during his time in Europe.
"That's what I did besides radio operator," he said. "I got in the tanks and recorded where the guns were and radioed back to headquarters so the Air Force could bomb them."
He recalls a time as a sniper where he had a close call.
"I was sniping once in a barn and climbed up to the top of a haystack," he said. "The enemy would come in and jab it with a fork to see if anyone was in there, but they didn't know I was on top. The artillery was coming in so I radioed back to stop the artillery because I was in there. They didn't believe me so they sent in a major to check if I was there and then we went up and took the town."
Reedy endured some extreme conditions while living on a mountainside in Italy.
"I remember pitching our pup tents when it was 30 below and in 4 feet of snow," he said. "They brought everything up the mountains to us on mules and one day one of them got knocked off the side of the mountain. They lost all of our supplies, it took them three days to get another one to us."
Near the end of his service overseas, Reedy was wounded in combat when a truck he was riding in was attacked.
"They trucked us back up to the mountains and a shell came down on us and it killed five guys," he said. "I was injured, they loaded me up on a stretcher took me down the mountain and flew me into Naples. I was in a hospital there then they put me on a hospital ship back to the United States."
Reedy recovered for several months in St. Louis, Mo., until he was up for re-enlistment or discharge in 1945.
"I did four and a half years," he said. "They wanted me to stay in, but I said I would rather get out. I'd seen enough fighting. There is about a year of it that I don't really remember because I was shell-shocked."
Since his time in the service, Reedy has become a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans. He is one of few surviving members of his original company.
"I think there is only two of us left now," he said.