PVT Clarence E. McCollum
84th Infantry Division, 334th Regiment, Co. I
KIA 20 Nov 1944
near Prummern, Germany
-- Joyce McCollum Reynolds --
Dad was born on February 16, 1909, at Brown Station, a small place near Columbia, Missouri. His parents, Bertha Edith (Cragio)
McCollum and William Arthur McCollum, were parents to 10 children, four girls and 6 boys. His dad was a successful contractor in
Columbia and built many homes there. During this time period, his dad decided he wanted to become a preacher. He was gone for
months at a time without coming home or helping to raise his family, either financially or as a father figure. This was a terrific
burden on his mom and found it very difficult to survive, causing my dad and most of the other brothers and sisters to quit school
and find some type of work. My dad was 12 when he had to discontinue schooling to help his mom financially.
At age 12, he found work at the Model Bakery. He also worked for the Pandandy Bakery for extra money. He really enjoyed his work
there as a baker and later was promoted to become the Manager until he was called to duty twenty one years later. Two of his brothers
were in the military also. His brother George made the military his career and retired after 30 years as a Lt. Col. in the Army Air
Force. His brother Andrew served 2-3 years but was given an Honorable discharge when he was involved in an accident on duty and fell
off a truck and injured his back. Another of his brothers, Benjamin, was omitted from the draft because of the number of children he
and his wife had, which was eight.
The start of mom and dad's relationship was when they met at a roller skating rink. On November 7, 1931, they became husband and wife.
They were married at the Wilkes Boulevard Methodist Church in Columbia. At the time, mom was 16 and dad was 21. They had a very happy
marriage and everyone loved being around them. A few years later, in 1933, my sister, Marian Sue was born. In 1936, my brother Jimmie Earl
was born, and then in 1939, I was born, Joyce Ann. We were told that mom and dad were very much family oriented. My sister Marian Sue
remembers dad as always loving to joke and tease mom and us and was always whistling or singing. He was a deacon at our church, the
Wilkes Boulevard Methodist Church, and sang in the choir. Dad always made sure we went faithfully each Sunday. Since back then few people
had cars, including us, it made it easier going to church as we lived right next door to it.
Dad loved sports and played shortstop for the University Fruit Company, which sponsored the team. He also loved fishing and hunting, and
was quite good at both, I understand. He earned a Marksmanship Medal in shooting. My sister remembers sometimes she would go with him and
he would always bring home plenty of meat for us and extra for family. I understand family and neighbors loved him to go because they knew
they'd probably be given something from his trip. One of the stories my sister tells is when after working the night shift and getting off
early in the mornings, he'd come home and wake her and they'd go fishing before the rest of us would wake up. Of course, being a baker,
she said he would always bring us fresh doughnuts, still warm.
Mom and dad also loved to garden and grow vegetables for us to have. Sometimes during the summer, mom and dad liked to make up several
containers of homemade ice cream for special treats for us and the neighbors and have something cool to eat.
On April 20, 1944, dad received his induction papers to report for duty in the Army. His orders sent him to Camp Hood, Texas for his basic.
At the age of 33, dad had over 21 years experience in the bakery business and had hoped, and also requested, that he be assigned as a cook.
As it turned out however, after receiving eight weeks of basic training as an Infantryman, he was sent to Ft. George G. Meade in Maryland
to await his overseas orders.
Many years later after dad was there, my first duty station was also there assigned to ARADCOM as a cryptographer. I did not realize it at
the time however, until I was looking over some really old papers pertaining to dad. My brother and sister also had a tour of duty in the
Air Force, in communications. Eventually we have each retired. My brother retired in Management from General Motors in St. Louis, my sister,
a nurse with the Veterans Administration in Georgia, and myself, from NASA at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I believe dad would have been
proud of us.
Dad was killed in action on November 20, 1944, near the town of Prummern in Germany. He is buried near the town of Margraten at the
National Cemetery in the Netherlands. His name has been put on the Pershing Memorial Wall of Honor in Laclede, Missouri, at his hometown
of Columbia, Missouri, and at the WWII National Monument at Washington, D.C. Although his life was very short, as his children, we are
very proud of him for taking a stand with other soldiers to defend our freedom and Country.
When we reflect on what we miss the most about dad, it's hard to name just one thing. One thing would be having a loving dad to share
times and memories and love with. Another would have been to see him having a full and enjoyable life and just know that your dad is
there to give you guidance. For him to have enjoyed his senior years and the accomplishments of his family and a life with his children
and grandchildren. Somehow, I believe he has been able to see that though all these years from where he is.