Floyd Key was born on September 14, 1926; one of America’s children that would become a Depression Baby and then become eligible to serve in the greatest war in the history of this country. He grew up on a farm/ranch in the tiny town of Megargel Texas on state highway 114 almost half way between Olney and Seymour. Much of his time on the family farm/ranch was spent driving a “go devil” plow behind a team of draft horses. He attended school until his senior year in Megargel and then transferred to nearby Olney High School so that he could take Chemistry and be better prepared for higher education. He graduated from there in the spring of 1943.
After graduation Floyd was off to Texas A&M University. After five semesters there he received his draft notice from the United States military summoning him for service in the Army. While at A&M he was a member of the Corps of Cadets which would serve him well during his stint in the military. He was sent to Camp Fannin near Tyler Texas for his basic training. Not only did he receive his training there, he was tabbed to help train other incoming draftees. He excelled at his training to the point that he was named Platoon Sergeant and earned the Expert Entry Badge.
In July of 1945 he completed his training and two weeks later was on a ship headed for the invasion of Japan. Being trained for the infantry there was no doubt in his mind that he would see heavy action upon his arrival. However while en route to Japan the news came that the United States had dropped the atomic bomb thus ending the war. Mr. Key made note that he was more than likely on the water at the same time that L.D. Cox of Sidney and the USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine after delivering the bomb itself.
Mr. Key was a mere 19 years of age while headed for Japan and while he was fortunate not to be a part of the Japanese invasion, he did imply that there were scary times on the ship. Each day the troops would be sent down below the deck of the ship while US planes took target practice on their ship not using live ammunition. The soldiers down below did not always know if the shelling that they could hear was live or just another training day.
Floyd and his comrades were sent to Clark Field just north of Manila. At his new location he was assigned to the Signal Corp which was in charge of much of the communication there. His new job included being a telephone operator. While holding down this job he soon found a typewriter where he could write home very often. A Captain in the Signal Corp was so impressed with his skill on the typewriter that he was soon offered a new job as the chief clerk. He was moved to the receivers section, a place that the Japanese had built for the same purpose. The Japanese had also built a makeshift swimming pool that was still usable for the troops in this section. Also because the director of the receivers section was quite the negotiator, he would strike a deal with the supply ships to trade radios for refrigeration units. This allowed this area of the base to be able to have fresh meat and vegetables that were not available to all the soldiers.
As many of the officers who had seen action in the Pacific Theatre were being sent home because of their extended time at war, Floyd moved up in rank at a very fast rate. This was due in part to the large number of openings but also because the young Key had proven his value as a leader with excellent skills and work ethic.
Floyd Key moved up to his highest rank of Staff Sergeant while here just before heading home on the USS Marine Panther. He arrived under the Golden Gate Bridge on October 14, 1946 or Columbus Day. Floyd laughingly says that he and Columbus discovered America on the same day. He was discharged at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.
Floyd says about being drafted that it wasn’t being drafted or going to war that bothered him as much as it was seeing his mother so full of worry. He already had two brothers who had been involved in heavy action in Europe and that he could see and feel that worry of his mother. He said that he knew that as a member of the infantry that if the invasion had taken place that he along with several thousand other troops would be in danger of becoming battlefield casualties.
Dwight Key: Floyd’s oldest brother was a gunner in a Sherman tank and served in the Africa and Italy campaigns. That alone says that he served in the pursuit of the German General Eric “The Desert Fox” Rommel. While the Sherman Tanks were no match for the much larger, much better protected, and much more powerful German 88’s they were more elusive and more difficult on which to get a direct hit. Floyd told that Dwight was shot in the head twice in battle. The worst was when a bullet entered his helmet creased his skull and exited out the back and went down his back leaving a pretty bad burn. Part of the reason for the bullets to the head was because Dwight did not feel safe down in tank body and would often keep his head just above the opening to see the danger ahead. On a scouting mission in Italy Dwight’s map had ended before it showed the direction needed to get behind the enemy lines. He persuaded a young Italian boy to go with him and direct him to the area he needed to be to have the advantage. The boy obliged and Dwight made a heroic move that put him behind the enemy and where he did significant damage and thus helped the American army move ahead at a crucial time.
Edwin Key: The second of the Key brothers was sent to anti-aircraft training in Palacios Texas upon entering the army. He went into battle on DDay +3 as with his platoon. His job was to take out the German planes on the attack over Normandy. He fought all the way across France, fought at the Battle of the Bulge and was there when the American forces crossed the impossible Rhine River via the Remagen Bridge. Hitler had ordered all bridges crossing the Rhine to be destroyed but when the Allied armies reached the bridge at 2:00 p.m. they were happy to see it still standing. Under heavy attack they crossed the bridge while cutting wires and throwing explosives in the river. By 4:00 p.m. the bridge had been secured and allied forces were crossing with all their might. This also allowed them to build other temporary bridges across the Rhine while the Germans were being pushed back.
Floyd said that once he moved to Comanche he learned that the late Freddie Ross (Father of Pam Bates) was also at that battle. He also said that while he and his lovely wife Sarah were in Europe on business while working with the Texas Extension Service that they made a trip to the Remagen Bridge just about the same time of year that the battle happened. It was quite awe-inspiring to the both of them.
After the service, Floyd received his degree from Texas A&M University in 1948. He married Sarah whom he had met through a buddy while on leave. The two buddies were in Graham and Floyd and Sarah were set up for a date. The two kept in contact while he was overseas. When he returned home they had their first date attending a Texas A&M and Baylor football game. Sarah was a beautiful young co-ed at Baylor University. The two married in December of 1948 and are on the verge of celebrating their 67th anniversary.
The drought of the early fifties played a huge role in taking Floyd off the farm and sending him to work for the Texas Extension Service. He did his training in Comanche County before being an assistant agent in Brown County. His next stop was in Bosque County where he stayed for 41/2 years before moving back to Comanche County where he stayed until his retirement in 1981. They have lived in Comanche since and are two of the most dearly loved people in the community.
Dwight Key came home from the Army and had a career in farming and ranching. He passed away following a full and productive life. Edwin Key who was a musician when he entered the army came home to have a career teaching the piano and the organ until health issues forced him to retire. He is still living but his memory does not allow him to recall much of his past.
We owe much to the men of the “Greatest Generation” for their willingness, their service, and their sacrifice. The Key brothers were indeed some of the best of the best.
Comanche National Bank P.O. Box 191 · 100 East Central · Comanche, Texas 76442 (325) 356-2577 · (877) 888-8262