Army veteran recalls his days in World War II
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 18:12
“Sometimes my memory fails me, but I remember my time in the war as if it were yesterday.” —Johnny Granados, 92, Azusa resident.
Johnny Granados was born in Emporia, Kan. on May 23, 1914, into a family of seven brothers and two sisters. His parents Pomposo and Lucia moved the family west to El Monte, California in 1924.
Granados was drafted into the Army during World War II on Jan. 22, 1942. His military journey began in Camp Roberts, Paso Robles, to Camp Barkley in Abilene, Texas. He was then transferred to Desert Center in California, then moved to Fort Dix in New Jersey and finally to England in January, 1944.
When he was stateside, Granados trained with the foward observer units but he was trained primarily with the 105 Howitzers artillery unit practicing their maneuver strategies.
When he went to Europe, he was assigned as a forward observer, driving an officer and two armed soldiers at all times.
Forward observers supported fellow soldiers by relaying instructions to adjust ground or naval gunfire.
Granados drove officers traveling close to the front lines to pass along intelligence. This prepared the troops for engagements with hostile forces.
He was also responsible for selecting and training the two soldiers who were with the forward observations unit. Part of the hardships of war was having to replace those two soldiers if they were wounded or killed.
“It was very hard. Those men were my friends,” he said.
Granados said he felt his job outside of the trenches played a large role in his survival on the front lines.
He also served with the 3rd Army under legendary Gen. George S. Patton, traveling in France from Utah Beach with the troops to St. Lo and then on to Paris and to Metz.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, he was with the first Army units that crossed Utah Beach on the Brittany Peninsula in Normandy, France.
“That moment will never go out of my mind,” Granados said.
When his unit disembarked from the barge, Granados’ jeep was the first one off. To his surprise, it sunk so deep he could taste the water. He thought he would have to abandon the vehicle, but somehow it managed to float. He then hit the beach to become part of the now legendary D-Day European invasion.
Granados and his fellow soldiers were very aware of their marks being made on history.
“Oh yes, we knew,” he said. “Soldiers can be very gossipy, plus we had our military publication Stars and Stripes.”
During World War II, the newspaper was printed in dozens of editions in several operating theaters. Some of the editions were assembled and printed very close to the front lines in order to get the latest information to the troops.
Granados recalls a time he encountered a sniper at the top of a hill shooting at another group of allied soldiers. Soon, the sniper had shot and killed the soldier manning the machine gun protecting them, leaving them vulnerable.
“I remember that their position was interfering with the radio and they could not reach anyone for help. Our lieutenant ordered them down the hill. I didn’t think it was the right thing to do, but I followed orders,” he said.