World War II veterans meet at Texas Travel Information Center

World War II veterans Lucas Martin, left, and Bob Leslie talk prior to a ceremony Saturday at the Texas Travel Information Center on Interstate Highway 35 in Gainesville. Martin and Leslie were with a group of U.S. Army veterans from the 103rd Division who visited the center during their 51st reunion.

 

A group of World War II U.S. Army veterans met Saturday at the Texas Travel Information Center in Gainesville.

The men — who trained at Camp Howze in Gainesville  — stopped for a wreath laying ceremony near the bronze memorial A Call to Duty commissioned by the 103rd division.

Lucas C. Martin was with headquarters company, 3rd Battalion, 409th Infantry when he left Camp Howze for France in October 1944.

Martin said this year marked the 51st reunion of the 103rd Division which was comprised of the 409th, 410th and 411th regiments.

The group has been meeting since 1965, he said.

“The bugler of my company, he started the reunions with [approximately] 15 people,” Martin said. “He found us through the VFW magazine and World War II magazines.”

Martin said his division commissioned A Call to Duty — a statue of an infantryman by artist Edd Hayes — near the site where Camp Howze once was.

“This is the only statue in the country that was acquired and paid for by veterans of the 103rd,” he said. “It’s the only one paid for by one division. No other division in World War II created such a statue.”

Martin noted panels along the sides of the monument contain the names of soldiers killed in action.

“One was in my platoon,” Martin said. “He was a wire man, killed by a concussion of German shells. His buddy who was with him is still living.”

Martin has become a historian for his division.

“I have, through the association, collected seven three-ring binders with stories from widows and veterans,” he said. “I share them at reunions so people can look over them.”

VFW Post No. 1922 was on hand for the ceremony and a representative from Texas Department of Transportation presented gifts to the visiting veterans.