For the telling of tales.

290th Reunions were powered by . . . Well, booze and stories from their time in training & overseas and, if nothing else, what happened at the last reunion. Here is one tale that involves two of the founders of the 290th Veterans group and is suitable for readers of all ages.

My Dad was a supply sargent with the H & S Company and Clyde Kiker was his helper. When my father was drafted, he wound up in the 186th Combat Engineers at Camp Shelby, MS. When the 186th left Shelby, a select number of Non-Comms stayed behind to form the cadre for the next battalion to be formed there; The 290th. My father was one of that cadre.

Clyde Kiker served as the Executive Officer and guiding force of the 290th Veterans for many years. In 1944, Clyde was the archtypical baby-faced soldier. Very, very young and hailing from Peachland, NC.

By the time the battalion reached the European theatre and completed their training in England, the Battle of the Bulge was on and – having been given last rites  – the battalion was ordered in to action to hold the line around the salient known as the Colmar Pocket in France. My father was tasked with loading food, ammunition, and other supplies on mules and leading them over the mountains to the front lines which were at the foot.

For the return trip, he and Clyde gathered the earthly remains of the less fortunate, tied them on the mules and took them back over the mountains. My father despatched a letter to his congressman complaining that a boy as young as Clyde should not have to do such grisly work. It is not known if the Congressman ever replied.

During this time-frame, it was cold as it could be and my father – on his way to the latrine one night – passed by baby-faced Clyde Kiker who was bundled up in his mummy sack with only his nose protruding. On his return from the latrine, Dad stoped, grabbed Clyde’s nasal appendage between his thumb & forefinger and said in a voice loud enough to wake the living: “Isn’t this the cutest little baby nose you’ve ever seen?”

3 Responses to On the road: Now is the time . . .

  • William F. Carroll says:

    My Dad served with Company B, 290th Engineer Combat Battalion. He was taken prisoner on January 23, 1945.

  • Judy Haverland Perkins says:

    Don’t know if you remember me or not but we met the Miami 290th reunion, I’m the daughter of William Haverland. We write letters to each other for a short period. I was online looking for information on the 290th. I had read some time ago the Clyde Kiker had donate some materials to the UT library and since I would be in Knoxville in the future I thought I would spent some time doing some research. Since my dad’s passing in ’04 I was trying to piece together his history. What a wonderful surprise to come across your website.

    Judy

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