After his University of Pittsburgh ROTC unit was activated in 1943, Lester Snyder of Dormont, PA, found himself at Ft. Bragg, NC, undergoing artillery training. But instead of being shipped overseas, Lester enrolled in the controversial Army Specialized Training Program, where he attended college classes six days a week. After the Army cancelled that program because of a manpower crisis in Europe, Les was assigned to a number of odd jobs, including removing the covers from Army brochures before they were discarded. “If the Army thought it was necessary,” he contemplates, “I guess somebody had to do it.”
One day, a flyer inviting applications for OCS caught his eye. Why not? It sounds more interesting than mowing grass around the base, he thought. He was sent to Fort Knox, KY, to oversee all ordinance shops and maintenance of tank gun rangers. In 1945, finally went to Europe with the 60th Ordinance Group. There, he attended the Nuremberg Trials before coming home in December 1946 with 90 dogs in tow, an event Les calls “Operation Pooch.”
In 1950, while working as a surveyor and taking night classes at the University of Pittsburgh, Les was recalled into the Army for Korea. He shipped to Red River Arsenal, Texas, to take charge of the 958th Ordinance Field Maintenance Company, which included 350 men and seven officers. He was quickly promoted to Captain and sent to Japan, then Korea, where he operated until December 1952.
“I simply did what was asked of me,” Lester remembers. “Things needed to get done.”
A Record Home
While in training, a young Lt. Snyder made several USO voice recordings, called “A Letter on a Record.” After all these years, nearly seven decades, they’re still playable. Take a listen…
In My Own Words
On a hot day in mid-August 2012, Lester Snyder, 88, sat down with Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Brentwood, PA. In this full-length interview Lester recounts his days in the Army during WW II and Korea as a field support officer.
In this audio story, Lester talks about the first time he heard about Pearl Harbor and what it was like to be whisked into active duty from the ROTC program at the University of Pittsburgh.