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US Army


1943 - 1945


Private First Class


The average age of a new US military recruit nowadays is around 21 years old, and over half of Active Duty enlisted personnel are 25 years or younger. The maximum age a person can enlist in the Army today is 35 years old. In World War II, however, the US depended on conscription to have enough soldiers to go into battle, and the national draft included able-bodied men from ages 18 to 45 years. The average age of a WWII soldier was 26 years old.

As told by his daughter Sandra TenCate, when Wayne McHone of Sioux Falls was drafted into military service in October of 1943, he was 31 years old. Life for the married new father changed quickly after the Army sent him to basic training in Fort Worth, TX. By 1944 after walking across Belgium, he found himself fighting for Allied forces in Germany.

The reality of war stood in stark contrast to Wayne’s comfortable life at home. He fought under General George S. Patton in the Battle of the Bulge. Conditions were difficult at best for the soldiers, who lived in fox holes in very cold and wet weather. Proper clothing for the military was scarce. Food was often limited, and the men lived on canned meat and tack (a kind of bread).

In one of his more difficult memories, Wayne recalled a conversation he had with a younger soldier about an upcoming assignment. The 20-year-old volunteered to take Wayne’s place in an upcoming skirmish. Shortly thereafter, Wayne was instructed to go to the battlefield to help bring back the wounded for medical care. There, he found the 20-year-old’s body – he had not survived the battle. The emotions and trauma American Soldiers experienced during WWII are almost unimaginable.

Wayne told his daughter of two wounds he received in battle. His helmet was hit, and he recounted the blood running down his face and neck. He was also hit in the thigh and left unable to walk. Medics picked him up from the battlefield and transferred him to a hospital in Paris, France. Physicians there told Wayne he would never walk again. But through grit and determination, he powered through, and soon he was navigating a three-story building to the mess hall to get his meals. Wayne credited his recovery and healing to God and the faith and prayers of his family at home in South Dakota. Remembering his loving family and longing to return to them in good health provided him much encouragement.

Wayne was honorably discharged and returned to his grateful family in South Dakota after D-Day. He didn’t talk much about the War in the years that followed. He enjoyed a 90-year-long life full of faith, family, children, grandchildren, hunting, fishing, bowling and horses. For his honorable service, Wayne was awarded the Purple Heart due to the wounds he received as a result of enemy action. He was also awarded the Bronze Star, which may be awarded to individuals who distinguish themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement or meritorious service not involving aerial flight.

Wayne’s service to our country is honored at the Sioux Falls Memorial Park in South Dakota.

These submissions were provided by the Veteran, their family and/or friends and are based on their research and memories. The historical facts and recollections are derived from the submitter and not necessarily from the SGA owner or staff. SGA cannot guarantee the accuracy of the submissions.

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