Perry (Mac) V McGehee
17 September 1940
Camp Berkeley, Texas
Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd
Chemical Warfare, Dentistry
World War II Victory Medal, EAME
Theater Medal with 2 Bronze Arrowheads, Presidential Unit Citation,
27 September 1945
Perry began his military career with the 45th Infantry
Division in 1940. Following
his basic training he underwent further training with the 45th
including short stays at Fort Sill and on dentistry and chemical warfare
courses before finding himself in New York State, close to the Canadian
border, in the winter of 1941/2.
Having been waist deep in snow on manoeuvres, he saw a poster
requesting airborne volunteers to go to
Benning for airborne
training, so thinking that the weather would be much better further
south, Perry volunteered. Three days later he was on board a train bound
for the “Frying Pan”!
Perry found airborne
training challenging but not too tough as he grew up a “country boy”
used to long ours and hard labor on the farm and in his family’s
blacksmiths. However, his training in dentistry and chemical warfare
with the 45th Infantry saw him pushed into the role of Medic.
Although his training was as tough and similar to the regular
infantryman, Perry was never able to persuade his officers to have him
returned to a regular infantryman’s role and so saw out the war as part
of the 507th PIR medical company.
Although when in combat, his role would see him attached, as part
of a two man team, to a rifle company squad.
He first saw combat
when, on D-day 6th June 1944, Perry McGehee jumped into
Normandy on plane numbered 43-15158 with the 305th Troop
Carrier Squadron, Chalk number 1 serial 26 in the company of several
high ranking officers. He
was the 13th man in his stick and it is a good job that Perry
wasn’t superstitious! He landed just outside of Ste Mere Eglise near a
railway line, in well over 18 feet of water. Thus began 30+ days in
combat where Perry and the 507th PIR found themselves heavily
engaged in fighting at the bridges over the
return to Nottingham, England,
the 507th PIR went back into training to recover from their
action and assimilate replacements. Here they were able to get some rest
and relaxation and even play the occasional game of baseball or
football. Because of his size, build and fitness level, Perry was able
to participate for the 507th Regimental team as an End.
Because of the heavy casualties
taken in Normandy, the 507th PIR was held in reserve
during Operation Market Garden and returned to mainland Europe when it
was needed to help plug the gaps created by the German’s Battle of the Bulge. Perry was flown to Reims, France
and then carried by deuce and a half to Belgium to hold the German push.
Here began many days of operating in freezing weather without proper
cold weather clothing that brought back memories of those days in New York waist deep in snow.
When the 507th
PIR was withdrawn from Belgium,
Perry returned to
and with the rest of the regiment, prepare for their next assignment.
They soon found out that this was to be their first daylight jump
itself at Wessel on 24th March 1945. Perry found this jump
very different from Normandy and with
the daylight making jumping and assembly much easier, the 517th
PIR soon had the enemy pushed back and their objectives of major
communications centers taken at
Munster and Essen.
When the war finally
came to an end, the 507th PIR was in Munster and was told to
prepare for Occupation duties, but as the points system came into
effect, Perry found himself with more than enough to get home early and
on 27th September 1945 was discharged from the army.
After the war, Perry
returned to Oklahoma where his brother owned 80 acres of land near Tulsa. Unsure of what he
wanted to do aged just 22 Perry was attracted to the oil industry where
he was able to obtain employment without too much difficulty. He worked
for DX-Sunray Oil Company for 39 years and celebrated his 60th
wedding anniversary in May 2006. He married his wife Dorothy on 28th
May 1946 in Chautauqua, Kansas where
they eloped to overcome the 3 day marriage license rules of Oklahoma. He didn’t want the bureaucrats
telling him that he wasn’t able to get a license for 3 days. They
subsequently had 3 children and now have 8 grandchildren.
So, who said retirement would be quiet!
Perry and his
has continued to live just outside Tulsa where, because of
his love of the land and the starvation he saw during the war, he has a
small plot of land where he grows fruit and vegetables. To this day, he
loves to cultivate his crops or sit and enjoy the land he fought through Europe to save. He is also active in the 507th