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Duffy's Army (youngsters:non fiction, 1143 words)
Author: Lou HillAdded: Mar 31 2002Views/Reads: 1826/715Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A goup of young boys play "war" games in a small town during World War Two
 



DUFFY'S ARMY 

Over the past few years many events of WW II have been commemorated. 
However the exploits of one of the oddest outfits in the annals of 
military history will remain unnoticed and unsung. 

This group was made up of individuals wearing an assortment of  uniforms
from all branches of the service.  A ragtag band willing to follow 
their leader anywhere.Sounds like something similar to the "Dirty 
Dozen" or "The Guns of Navarone" doesn't it? 

In reality this group more closely resembled "The Little Rascals" meet
Abbot and Costello in "Buck Privates." Their theater of action was in a 
"jungle" behind "Tunk" Burleson's Mobil station in the center of 
Enosburg Falls with an occasional foray to the banks of the Missisquoi 
River. 

The army was made up of a group of some ten or twelve 8 to 14 year olds.
 Most of the activity took place during the summer months from 1943 to 
1945.   The requirements of the school calendar mandated cessation of 
hostilities during the rest of the year. 

Our fearless leader was Thomas "Tommy" Duffy, a local boy who had
assumed this position as his right as he was the oldest, around 15 I 
believe, and supplied most of our armament.   The loft behind his 
Father's store provided our headquarters and served as our barracks, 
planning room, transport plane etc. depending on the particular 
scenario of the day. 

Many members of the army had colorful nicknames including among others,
Howard "Peanut" Kennison, who was second in-command, Wayne "Wimpy" 
Sweeny, Freddie "Stinky" Stanley and myself. At the time I had somewhat 
of an identity problem.  My father's family called me by my baptismal 
name of Louis or quite	 frequently Louis James (never Lou or Louie) 
while my mother's family preferred "Billy" a name, which followed me 
through high school. This problem was solved when Duffy tagged me with 
the nickname "Jellybean." 

Uniforms were an interesting conglomeration of patches, insignia and
stripes from every branch of the service with an occasional authentic 
article of military clothing thrown in when available.  Almost every 
member of "Duffy's Army" had at least one close relative in some branch 
of the military. Most painfully scrawled letters to them included a 
request for one of these items. 

Many of our missions required that the "Army" parachute into enemy
territory.  The loft that functioned as our airborne troop transport 
had a wide door approximately eight to ten feet above the ground.  It 
was a perfect jumping off site.  To me, a myopic, overweight and less 
than athletic eight-year-old, it was an intimidating distance. 

I did make a few jumps, thus earning the acceptance of my peers. However
I usually weaseled out by volunteering to act as the pilot of our 
"aircraft."  This allowed me to babble on about approaching enemy 
fighters or to announce the upcoming drop zone or whatever else came to 
mind based on the number of "war" comics or movies that I had seen 
recently. It also let me avoid making those terrifying jumps, which the 
other troops, seemed to anticipate with great glee.  They would leap 
from the open door with screams of "Geronimo" and land in a pile of 
soft sand.  As I recall, Freddie Stanley usually acted as my copilot. I 
don't think he had any more stomach for jumping than I did. 

Parachutes were rolls of material wrapped with a cord.  These cords were
attached to a "static" line prior to jumping out of the door.  It was 
of paramount importance to remember to quickly roll out of the way 
after landing in the sand otherwise the next member of the group would 
land in the middle of your back or stomach. 

We also fought many jungle campaigns. Our theaters of action seemed to
shift from Europe to the Pacific and back with little regard for the 
logistics of troop movements.   I always looked forward to the jungle 
engagements.  It wasn't necessary to make a "jump" and I excelled at 
rooting around in the thick underbrush behind the Mobil Station. 

In reality our jungle was two or three hundred square feet of scrub


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