Hillard Welch

Chris Rosnick and Matt Chafe

Hillard Welch or as he likes to be called, Hid was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1925. He attended Yale University for about a year. In November of 1943, Hid made the biggest decision of his life. Hid joined the army to help fight in WWII. He would then learn very complicated tactics and advanced coding that helped the United States win the war.

When Hid first joined, he spent thirteen weeks in basic training. He was sent to Fort Devens in Massachusetts. He explained how brutal basic training could be. He talked about learning how to shoot a Howitzer. The Howitzer was an anti tank weapon or as he liked to call it a big gun on wheels. He also mentioned one of the training methods they used, which was called an infiltration course. This was when soldiers had to crawl for a mile under barbed wire. He made it very clear that no one could get up otherwise they would be shot. He also described formations in the army. There is a squad which has 9 people, a platoon which has 20 people and a company which has 100 people. He also learned a couple of things that he would stick by throughout his time in WWII.  He explained that a couple of the most important things he learned was, to pay attention, use the knowledge they give you, and if you have a plan stick with it. These would help Hid get through all the challenges that he would soon face once he was deployed. He would finish his thirteen weeks of basic training in March of 1944.

Hid was then sent to Fort Sill in Oklahoma for advanced training. There he met a supply truck driver. Hid chose to go that route to avoid being deployed to the front lines. He later transferred to communications school,  where he learned to type seventy two words per minute in morse code. He was then sent across the Atlantic on an unprotected troop ship called the USS Henderson to camp Pisanova, located in Italy. He was in a company called 3795 signal services. His responsibilities here involved manning the radios 24/7 and making sure everything was under proper control.He learned Italian very quickly  and he even trained Italian soldiers. The skills learned in communications school not only kept him off the frontlines but set him apart from the rest of his camp and, due to being the only type literate person, made him staff sergeant by default.

Hid had some interesting stories that happened to him while he was in Italy. He talked about how he witnessed two of his bases burning down because of the Heating system leaking. Hid also told us a story about the time he broke the chain of command by telling a colonel off after not getting his signature for a supply pick up. Luckily he knew the commanding officer quite well and was not reprimanded. Hid also had some dating experience while he was in the Army. He described how American soldiers were allowed to date the Italian women. But in order to be able to date these women, you had to go and meet her entire family at her house and have dinner with them. If the parents did not like you then you could not date their daughter. There was also a stigma common amongst Italians making American soldiers out to be savages, making the parents far more hesitant to accept one as their family. Although, Hid pushed through this stigma and finessed his way into many dates with beautiful Italian women.

He returned home from Italy in July 1946, amazingly on the same Ship that first took him across the Atlantic. It was far less terrifying this time because the threat of German submarines attacking were nonexistent, and he was quite familiar with the ship as well. Once he returned home, he then decided to finish his degree in business at Yale and he never re enlisted. Overall Hid was a very personable man. He learned a lot from his experiences in WWII and he still lives by some of the morals he learned today. Even though Hid never saw the front lines. He was a major part of helping America win the war.