Lee Solice

Lee Solice points to a picture of himself on his wall that shows him stationed in Wurzburg, Germany in 1946.

FRIERSON, La -- Lee Solice was drafted into World War II just after the Allies won victory in Europe, and just as the U.S. took the last island in the Pacific Theater.

One last ominous battle with Japan loomed. So it seemed obvious where Lee was headed.

After three months of battle, and the deaths of more than 12,000 Americans, the U.S. seized Okinawa in July of 1945. It would be a base for Operation Downfall. That was the planned invasion of the Japanese mainland -- a battle that could cost a million American lives, and millions more Japanese.

“When we would train, that's what we were training for. Oh yeah,” Lee said.

But a change in war plans may have saved Lee’s life. The U.S. dropped two atomic bombings on Japan in August of 1945, forcing their surrender.

"If they wouldn't have dropped the bombs when they dropped them, it would've been two, three weeks later, and I'd be in Japan. Because that's exactly where I was going,” Lee says.

Instead, he was sent to the other nation we conquered. Lee was part of US occupation forces in Germany. It was a policing operation connected to the U.S. Constabulary, which was maintaining security as a new government friendly to the U.S. was formed. Much of Germany was in ruins from Allied bombardments.

"They had went in there to clear the streets out, and all the rubble was pushed off to each side of the street," Lee recalls. "Well, when they did that, the rubble covered all the houses. Covered 'em up.

"The people actually lived in their basements, and they had to tunnel through the rubble to get to their basements," Lee described.

But Lee said the German people held no ill will against the American occupiers.

"I think they really really happy. Because maybe what they went through in the Hitler days. But we never had no problem. Never did,” Lee says.

He stayed in Germany 12 years and was not sent to the Korean War. He left the Army after 22 years of service, and took a job teaching ROTC at Fair Park and Green Oaks High Schools through 1983.

"They were taught all the traits of a person you've got to have to be a leader," Lee says of the high school ROTC program he lead.

And he’s glad for his own military service.

"If I had to go back to do it again, I wouldn't hesitate at all. I think it was something that really prepared me for life,” he said.

Now age 93, Lee serves as vice chairman of the Los Adais Indian tribe.


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