World War II vet greets patients,
employees with a smile at Riley
special to The Star
Nov. 11, 2002
For Hubert Jeff Hall, Veterans Day is a time to remember the anguishes of war and the sacrifices he and other Americans made for their country.
Hall, better known as "Doc" to family and friends, is a volunteer at Riley Hospital. Out-going and well-liked, he greets patients and employees with a smile on his face and is quick to lend a hand when something needs doing.
One of nine children, Hall grew up in Meridian. At the age of 15, his father died. Not long afterward, his mother abandoned the family.
The children were disbursed among orphanages and new families. Hall, not wanting to go to an orphanage, decided he would join the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program started by President Franklin Roosevelt to relieve unemployment during the Great Depression. Hall was soon sent to Oregon, where he planted pine trees.
Joining the Army
With the start of World War II, the Civilian Conservation Corps was abolished. Hall returned home to Meridian and decided, at the age of 17, to join the Army.
It was a choice thousands of young unmarried men made in the 1940s. In fact, two of his older brothers had already joined the service, one in the Navy and the other in the Air Force.
Hall completed basic training and was sent to Scotland and England, where troops were training for a major invasion of the French coast. A member of the 507 Transport Division's 282nd Company A, Hall's job was listed as a tractor driver.
The company's purpose was to keep supplies flowing among the troops. Later, he was transferred to an engineering company responsible for building bridges, clearing mine fields and installing phone and water lines.
Allies invade Normandy
In late spring 1944, the war took a turn for Hall and the rest of the troops.
The ships crossed the channel and as dawn broke on the morning of June 6, 1944, the Allied invasion of the Normandy beaches began. More than 100,000 fighting men went ashore during the landing. For the then-18-year-old Hall, it was a scene he could never have imagined.
The French countryside
Three months later in early September, he was injured during a skirmish in the French countryside. German planes were flying overhead, dropping bombs. Artillery was firing all around.
From France, the injured Hall was transported by ship to an English hospital, where he was treated for his wounds. He then was sent to a hospital in New York for more surgery. About four months later, he was transferred to a military hospital in Atlanta, where he underwent therapy for another several months.
Among the citations and honors he received for his military service are the Purple Heart and the Croix de Guerre from the French government for his bravery. About six months ago, he received another citation from the French government, which was sent to all veterans who fought to free France during World War II.
Discharged from the service following his stay in Atlanta, Hall, now 19, returned home to Meridian.
With no place to go and unsure where his siblings now lived, he rented a room in a downtown house and set out to find work. He was only given $300 from the military when he was discharged and his disability pay had yet to start.
After a couple of months, he went to work at a downtown Gulf Station. Since he didn't have a car, he walked the few blocks to work each day. He worked there for several years before taking a job with A.J. Lyon Wholesale, where he worked for nearly a decade. He then went to work for the U.S. Post Office in the maintenance department, retiring around 1980 after 20 years of service.
When he was 24, Hall met and married Evelyn May, a young woman he met through a friend. He has a daughter, Deborah Intestimon, who lives in Arkansas, and one grandson.
Hall, a widower, has worked as a volunteer for Riley for the past three years. He assists hospital staff by greeting visitors, delivering flowers and gifts to patients, carrying records and X-rays between departments and escorting patients when they need a procedure or test.