Not all of us can say that we knew a US President, before or during their presidency, but my uncle, Jim Wolfe could say that. Uncle Jim was in the army during World War II, and was on his way to England on a ship. Being the kind of guy who liked to see how things worked, Uncle Jim was laying on the back end of the ship watching the propeller go in and out of the water. Ike came up behind him and asked him if he was sick. Uncle Jim said, “No, I was just watching the prop.” Ike said, “Lord, man I would be so sick it would kill me and I’m on ships all the time.” He told Uncle Jim to come with him and they were going to go to Officers Mess and have coffee. Dad said “I can’t go there I will get in trouble.” Ike informed Uncle Jim that as long as he was with him, they wouldn’t say anything to him.
In the Officers Mess, Uncle Jim and Ike talked for a long time and then went their separate ways on the ship. When they got to England, Uncle Jim saw him a few times and then on D-Day, they found themselves on the same ship again. When they disembarked, they were under heavy fire, and my cousin Shirley Cameron tells me that Ike got a hold of her dad, my Uncle Jim and asked him how his shooting was. Uncle Jim said that it was good. Ike said, “See that guy in that tree way up there.” Uncle Jim said that he did, and Ike asked if he could hit him. Uncle Jim shot, hit, and killed the man. Ike said for Uncle Jim to stay with him. They were together for quite a while before they got separated. At that point, Uncle Jim was sent to another area.
Uncle Jim ended up opening up some of the concentration camps. That was probably the worst part of his service. He said the men were like the walking dead. They were sick, weak, and skinny. All they could do was grab hold of him and thank him over and over for getting them out of that horrible place. Shirley tells me that he saw little wooden sheds that had bodies stacked from bottom to top, There were also pits that had bodies stacked in them ready for the heavy equipment to push the dirt over the top. She told me that experience gave him nightmares for years. He used to have pictures of all of that and the people that they helped out of the camps, but unfortunately they were lost in the fire that destroyed his home a number of years ago. After his time there, Uncle Jim was sent to France to help with the Liberation there. I’m sure he came home with many stories of the war, but as far as I know, that was the last time he ever saw the man who would later become our 34th US President, Dwight D Eisenhower…aka Ike.