Project WWII: Voices of the Greatest Generation

Man serves during D-Day

by Dylan Welker

Raymond Crisman, U.S. Army veteran, joined
the service at the age of 28. The Joplin native
worked in the 184th maintenance battalion,
helping keep the Army's transportation running.

"Sept. 1, 1942, I went down to the recruiter and told him that if he put me in the line of work that I could do Uncle Sam the most good, that I would enlist that day," said Raymond Crisman, staff sergeant U.S. Army Veteran — World War II — European Theatre.

Crisman, a Joplin native, was 28 years old when he joined the service. His company, the 184th maintenance battalion, served together throughout the war from D-Day to VE Day. His unit kept the Army rolling forward.

"We worked on everything that rolled on tracks or wheels, and it didn't make any difference where it was, if they needed our work in the field," Crisman said. "When they called on us we went up."

The 184th maintenance battalion landed on Utah Beach just before dusk. It faced heavy fire, and the soldiers spent their first night in foxholes, something they would do for many nights over the next year.

"We shipped out of a little village outside of South Hampton in LCPV, landing craft vehicle and personnel," he said. "We went on Utah Beach, known as blue beach; the 184th ordinance battalion was the first ordinance battalion on the continent of France."

The battalion participated in the D-Day invasion, the crossing of the Rhine, the Battle of the Bulge and followed the front lines across the entire European continent.

This patch from the Normandy Veterans  Association is given to the British soldiers who fought at Normandy on D-Day,  June 6, 1944.
This patch from the Normandy Veterans
Association is given to the British soldiers
who fought at Normandy on D-Day,
June 6, 1944.

Crisman still recalls the first days on the beach.

"I remember taking cover a lot for the first two days," he said. "We saw one landing craft run into a mine and it blew it in half. They were in the tanks ready to land on the beach; they did not stand a chance. It was what we called the day of hell."

His company continued to travel east through France and into Germany. It turned around to provide service to the units participating in the Battle of the Bulge at Ardennes Forest during December of 1944. The Germans made a drive to push the allied forces out of Germany.

"I was traveling the whole time I was overseas," Crisman said. "I put 53,000 miles on the Jeep. I was constantly on the move. They [the Germans] were trying to infiltrate back into Belgium because they were trying to get our depot. We ended up in Belgium for quite sometime. It was cold, snowy, and we were there for quite sometime."

Crisman was appreciative of the men who fought in the air above them.

First, of the air support the soldiers received during the D-Day invasion and, second, the effort made by the flyers during the Battle of the Bulge.

"They put all they had into the Battle of the Bulge, they lost over 1,000 planes in that battle," he said. "We had some pretty good shooters in the air."

Often, Crisman would write his wife letting her know he was still fighting. Many of the letters the soldiers wrote home have been collected into books.

"I wrote my wife a letter almost every night," Crisman said. "She has about 365 letters that I wrote her while I was overseas. She gets out one every once in a while and reads them. My daughter gets one out every once in while, and she enjoys them as well."

Crisman said he is happy about his service.

"World War II Veteran, proud to serve," Crisman said.