My father was Sgt. Walter L. Hendrix, E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. It is my understanding that his nickname was "Blackjack Lou". After the war, his friends simply called him "Sarge". I called him Daddy. I won't attempt to repeat any of his many stories that I heard all of my life. I am positive I would not get them correct. However, I can tell you how he related them to us. First, and foremost, he was very proud of his service and the accomplishments of the men he served with. I noticed early on, that when he told us a story, he always spoke in group phrases ..."we"...."our"...."us", rarely singularly. If you commented on how brave they were, or how amazed you were in what they had lived through. He always said, " There were thousands, and thousands more that went through the same things." I can tell you...he never considered himself a hero......but he was a very proud soldier. He cared for and respected every man he served with and fought with, and especially Captain Winters.
After the war, he returned home to Elberton, Georgia. He met and married my Mother, Hester Lee Payne. They had 4 children. I was born in 1949, and am the oldest. Growing up, I remember the nightmares he would some time still have. He was always calling someone's name....I can remember getting up many times to look into the kitchen, where I would see Mama sitting with him until he was ready to go back to bed. She would tell me later...."Just a bad dream about the war." It wasn't until I was grown that I understood the true trauma's they had all endured. My Daddy was quiet the prankster all of his life, and ours. He told us stories about different jokes the men would pull on each other....I'm sure they needed time to feel normal when they could.
I can tell you....he never ate another piece of Spam to my knowledge.....as kids, we loved it and Mama would fix it for us occassionally......when Daddy was fishing or hunting or something....he did not even want to smell it....ha,ha. I wonder if any of the other men felt the same way. We lost Daddy in February 2000, in a senseless auto accident. One has to wonder....after all he lived through in the war......why?
Among his personal mementos, there was one letter he had kept all of his life that was directly related to his time in Europe....and the only piece of correspondance of that time period that he did keep. It was a letter he received after he had returned home, from a girl named Enid from England. It was obvious they had been friends and spent some time together. I have no idea who Enid is, but obviously she was very special to him. I am sure she she must have been a beacon of light for him during the storm he must have felt that he was in , no doubt that she was the only part of his life during that time that felt normal. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Enid, for being his friend and companion while he was so far from home and family. He never forgot you Enid.
In her letter I had to smile at a reference she made to his shoes. She asks...."And your shoes, have you still got that shine on them?" Daddy was in the National Guard, and growing up we would sit and watch him shine his boots...it was a sight to behold! ...... I knew exactly what Enid meant.....And to end.... He gave me life, and he helped to protect and keep the freedoms I have enjoyed in this life.
As told by Christine Fawcett Hendrix, Walter's daughter