99-year-old Ky. veteran honored at Veterans Day event
BOURBON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) -
16 million Americans served in world war II. An estimated 167,000 are still living.
Albert B. Wess was a part of a special unit of trucks that ran critical supplies to the front lines. A majority of those drivers were African American. Think of it as the Tuskegee airmen on the ground.
The 99-year-old world war II veteran’s memory of his time in the service is still sharp. He was drafted in 1943, on his 20th birthday. He was trained to be a mechanic in General Patton’s Army and became a driver on the red ball express.
The Red Ball Express consisted of 6,000 vehicles, majority African American drivers, moving 1,200 tons of critical supplies a day to the front lines of the European theatre.
Wess says the hauls were dangerous. Driving at night, headlights off, avoiding german airplane attacks. The top speed on those trucks was 40 miles per hour. So they were told.
“Them airplanes make you drive further than that, so lieutenant says Wess you got a Governor on that truck. Yes sir. Break and let’s go 40 miles per hour haha,” Wess said.
His truck went into overdrive hitting 60, but that didn’t stop the planes from attacking.
But, the Red Ball Express kept on trucking. Wess says the number of routes was countless. At times, supply trucks needed supply, with cover fire.
Time goes on. and memories are still fresh. Convoy members died on those dangerous missions, but he’s grateful the Red Ball Express is getting its proper recognition.
Wess served during segregation and he still wishes he had equality during that time.
“I’d like to have been treated better when we were in the complete Army let alone the Red Ball Express,” Wess said
Now, six months from the century mark, Wess is truckin’ on.
“I feel thankful and fortunate and I always say ‘to God be the glory,” Wess said.
Wess was married for 47 years and had four children. Just a few years ago he was awarded France’s Legion of Honor for his extraordinary military bravery during the war.
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