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Little Falls W.W.II veteran shares legacy in artifacts

LITTLE FALLS — Mr. Clemance J. Deering, formally Pvt. Deering of the 533rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942 for service as America entered World War Two.

“We spent about a week at Fort Snelling before they told me to go home, sell everything I had because I was going to Fort Bliss, Texas, for training,” explained Deering.

Training for his unit lasted about four months at Ft. Bliss for training on infantry tactics, survival skills, general soldiering and anti-aircraft techniques. Clem was one of hundreds of men training to engage enemy aircraft in defense of ground units that would be subject to air attack.

Boarding a ship near the Statue of Liberty in New York, the 533rd embarked to go overseas with over 4,200 other troops. For many of the members of Deering’s unit, it was the first time they had experienced anything outside their own communities.

“We didn’t know where we were going, but we were excited to be going somewhere,” said Deering.

Deering’s time at Casablanca in North Africa included fighting against German aircraft, Italian and French soldiers while continuously moving forward with the campaign. Their unit was responsible for searching and processing prisoners before turning them over to the Military Police.

Further assignments took the 533rd to Algeria, Tunisia, Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, France and Germany. Their duties covered several other countries halfway around the world. For many units today, tours are limited to the primary theater of operation within the conflict area.

During the unit’s 39 months in combat the soldiers of the 533rd battle dug hundreds of foxholes and battlion emplacements across two different continents. “Every time we moved we dug a new foxhole with that spade, and we moved a lot,” said Deering.

“I like to talk with the soldiers about their time in Iraq or Afghanistan; one fellow said it’s a lot like deer camp, you go out on patrol or a mission and you come back to a place to sleep and place to eat,” commented Deering.

Service members, no matter what generation they are a part of or in what conflict they served, often tell similar stories. The details, names and mission may change but the life experience of any soldier, Marine, sailor or airman remains the same.