As always, was very surprised and pleased to receive the following letter regarding Vernon Dotson.
My name is Roy Dixon. I'm helping my wife Ronda research some history of her uncle. She came into possession (from her mother) of some of his personal effects after he passed away. As a former Army "BRAT" myself, I recognized some of the items.
Most notably is what appears to be a Unit "Yearbook" of sorts. It appears quite dated. I can't seem to find a publication date but it does contain what appears to be complete rosters, unit photos etc.... including a complete "Honors" section.
My wife and I would love to speak with you directly and I would be more than happy to scan some photos, documents and send to you. Any help or guidance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
Marion's note: The "Yearbook" Roy refers to above, was actually designed and printed in post-war Germany. I have a copy myself. The regimental book includes tons of photos from North Africa to Germany, rosters, and much more. A real treasure and very hard to find nowadays. Roy includes a photo of the book cover below.
Pvt Vernon Carlyle (V.C.) Dotson Jr.
540th Engineer Regiment, 2832nd Engineer Combat Battalion, Co. A, 2nd Platoon
1923 - 2000
On March 22, 1923 Vernon Carlyle Jr. was born to Vernon Carlyle & Georgia Mae Dotson in St. Charles, VA.
At the age of 17 Vernon decided to enlist in the Army. Being to young to enlist on his own, he had to have his mother and father sign the papers for him to join. His father, thinking that he was too young to join refused to sign. However, his mother did sign and his sister Joan, signed their fathers name. Vernon officially enlisted into the service on September 1941.
The Dotson family moved to Dorsey, MD in 1942. V.C. returned home on leave many times.
V.C. was stationed at Fort Holabird Army Depot , in Baltimore MD in 1943. While stationed in Baltimore, V.C. would travel back and forth to VA. specializing in running moonshine for the officers. While on liberty/leave he would somehow manage to procure an Army ambulance so he could have transportation to take his younger sister Joan and his cousin out dancing and drinking. He also made pocket money while stationed at Ft. Holabird by ironing his buddies uniforms.
When orders to ship out were given, V.C. thought it was unfair that he didn’t get to say goodbye to his family. So, he and one of his shipmates jumped ship. After visiting family back and forth in MD. and VA. for some time, V.C.'s father convinced him to turn himself in at Fort George G. Meade. He was promptly sent back to his boat and shipped overseas.
Vernon celebrated his 21st birthday crossing the Rhine river. V.C. also had the misfortune to loosing his watch in the Rhine river. It was at this time he received a letter from home telling him that he had a new baby brother.
According to his sister Alma, V.C. always worried about keeping his feet dry. He told her that he had about 12 pairs of wool socks. He also claimed to have slept in Hitler’s bed, possibly at the "Eagles Nest". He always felt bad about the fact that he survived the war when so many of his buddies were killed. One such story that was remembered told of him being in a fox hole with two of his buddies. There was an explosion and when things calmed down, both men on either side of him were dead. He also claimed to have survived another incident on a loading dock. We also believe that he drove a DUKW.
Picture postcard taken in Naples, Italy (5-11-44). Raised lettering in lower right is CAV. BRUNO. Faded (but visible) handwriting across his left shoulder reads…..” Love always V.C.” We suspect this was sent to his future wife Mary. Also recognizable is the 5th Army Patch and his European - African - Middle Eastern Campaign Ribbon which appears to be on backwards?
Picture of Pvt. V.C. Dotson with little sister Alma-age 9- and brother Charles age-7. Photo was taken 1941. He returned to the family home in Pound, VA many times while stationed at Ft. Holabird-Baltimore, MD
V.C. Dotson in Naples, Italy
Photo dated 8-1-44
VMail to his family 12-15-43
VMail to his mother on Mother’s Day 1944
Several items of interest to note:
1) VMAIL Stationary has 540th ENGR REGT marked at bottom right
2) His address actually puts him with Co. A 540th Engrs
3) He actually wrote the location “somewhere on the Anzio Beachhead”
I’m surprised that wasn’t censored
Some foreign currency VC brought back from Europe . Paper monies from Germany & France
Not sure why there were three ration coupons (still attached) among his effects. These coupons would have come from Book Four that was issued in late 1943.
Dotson's beloved “Mary Mitchell”
This is the actual photo wallet V.C. carried in his pocket the entire time he was in service
V.C. met Miss Mary Mitchell at a local USO while on liberty while assigned at Ft. Holabird-Baltimore , MD. Mary was a piano player and volunteered her time entertaining the troops at the USO. Like many men did during that time, he promised he would marry her if he returned from the war.
A bronze star is worn on the ribbon to indicate participation in designated campaigns.
A bronze arrowhead is worn on the ribbon to indicate participation in a combat parachute jump, combat glider landing, or amphibious assault landing.
His Platoon Photo– CO “A” 2832nd Engineer Combat Battalion
V.C. and Mary Dotson (circa 1989)
As promised, V.C. married Mary Mitchell after he returned from the war. They started their family and lived in Laurel , MD.
V.C. went to work as a bus driver for the Baltimore Motor Coach Co. He later went to work for Trailways Bus Co. and drove for 24+ years. Eventually, he retired as an Inspector for the DC Transit Authority.
Mary passed away in 1992. V.C. followed in 2000. They are survived by three children, four grand children, & one great grandchild who carries on V.C.'s legacy –Vernon Carlyle Dotson V.