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The Remarkable Journey of Lloyd Lenard: WWII Communications Officer

U.S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 10/01/1942 – 05/18/1946
Communications Officer

He was born on a tenant farm in Ouachita Parish, “so far out in the country from West Monroe they had to pipe sunshine to us,” he quips. Lloyd describes his father, James Edward Lenard, a locomotive engineer, as “a handsome womanizer” who left his mother, Doshie Boyette Lenard, with seven children. “She had ultimate faith in the Lord,” he recalls. “I’d wake up at 2:30 in the morning hearing her pray, `Oh Lord, show me how to feed and clothe my children.'” She took in washing, ironing and sewing, with Lloyd serving as her delivery boy. Lloyd made money in town on Saturdays by shining shoes for a dime and selling sacks of parched peanuts for a nickel. “When I’d get home, I’d usually have around $3.60,” he says. “I would give three dollars to Momma and keep the sixty cents for myself. I wanted her to have it for food and clothes.” Although the family was so poor they lived awhile in abandoned boxcars, Lloyd says he was blessed with a sharp mind. He competed in Literary Rallies, in which he won three scholarships. He studied by a coal oil lamp, finished Ouachita Parish High School, and went on to college to study journalism – first at Northeast Junior College in Monroe and then at LSU in Baton Rouge. He graduated with a BA degree in journalism, with honors. While at LSU, Lloyd joined the United States Naval Reserves officer candidate program. After graduation, he was sent to Notre Dame Officers Candidate School. Lloyd recalls almost universal service among men. If one could not produce a 4-F card, “guys would beat the hell out of you on the streets,” he recalls. “I remember I came home from LSU in ’43. Of course, they hadn’t called me to Notre Dame Officers Candidate School yet. I went uptown, and three guys saw me. `What are you doing walking around with civilian clothes on?’ And they just beat the living tar out of me.” He arrived at Notre Dame in September 1943 and was commissioned on January 20, 1944. He was sent to the communications training center for the Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Virginia. He was next assigned to Little Creek, Virginia, for amphibious training, where he made beach landings on LSTs (Landing Ship, Tanks). He also worked in LCVPs, (Landing Craft Vehicle, Personnel) or Higgins boats, as many were called.

Meanwhile, he kept an eye on the Atlantic’s horizon at night, where German “wolf packs,” or submarines, were sinking American ships. “Every night, even before we started across the Atlantic, you could look out on the horizon, and there’d be one or two ships blazing,” he recalls. Lloyd left Virginia on May 25, 1944, for Europe in convoy aboard an LST he calls “a lumbering, wallowing old cow.” He served as a starboard gunnery officer over four gun crews and attempted to shoot down German planes harassing the convoy. Reaching the Mediterranean, he began training on an LCT (Landing Craft, Tank) and aboard rocket boats for the invasion of southern France. By the time of the invasion, Lloyd served as a communications staff officer for an admiral. Shipped home at war’s end, he recalls seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time. He caught a train home to Louisiana for thirty days’ leave, he says, and “had a set of orders to the Pacific in my pocket.” He was home when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. “Boy, there was celebrating because I knew I wasn’t going to have to go to the Pacific,” he recalls. Lloyd completed his service at Naval Ammunition Depot in New Jersey, where he helped dump munitions at sea. Discharged on May 18, 1946, he was hired as a police beat reporter at the Shreveport Times. He soon left, however, for graduate school at the University of Missouri. At church, he met Betty Jo Sawyer there, and they married on December 23, 1947. Today they have three children and two grandchildren. He wrote his master’s thesis on Neiman Marcus Company, which offered him, and he accepted, a job after graduate school. He soon left, however, for an advertising position at radio station KNOE in Monroe. Four-and-a-half years he joined advertising sales with Aetna Life Insurance Company, which sent him to Shreveport as assistant manager of the division office. Lloyd retired in 1984 and began writing books.

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