For Gus Phillips, World War II was a tough time that he prefers not to talk about.
It was difficult because so many of this comrades and troops under his command didn't return from the war.
"You felt responsible for all of them," said Phillips, 89, of Evans.
Phillips' Army Reserve unit, the 153rd Regiment of the Arkansas Army National Guard, was stationed in Alaska's Aleutian Islands in January 1942. For nearly two years, his unit planned for the possible Japanese invasion of Dutch Harbor Naval Base. and laid steel mesh airplane runways into the boggy tundra.
In late 1943 or early 1944, Phillips said he was deployed to Anzio, Italy, as a unit commander with the Third Infantry Division where troops tried to move around the German defensive lines.
"You weren't scared that much really," Phillips said. "You were always moving ... . You couldn't show it. If I hadn't been a leader, I think I would have quit."
Phillips also led his unit as part of the invasion of southern France. On Feb. 2, 1945, while overtaking a pocket of Germans near Kolmar, France, Phillips said he was injured by a shell fragment that hit his head and left arm.
"It was a million-dollar wound because it broke my arm and got me out of it," Phillips said, adding he was sent to a London hospital, where he was when the war ended soon after. "I was lucky. I was very lucky to get out of there."
Phillips continued serving in the Army Reserve and moved to the Augusta area in 1966 after retiring from Georgia Pacific.
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