Bradshaw remembered an ominous prediction from his third-grade teacher.
“She told us history repeats itself, and if history repeats itself, you boys would be just right for the next war,” he recalled.
Bradshaw was 22 when the United States entered World War ll.
“I went into the Army Dec. 15, 1942. I remember it well,” he said. “I decided to volunteer for the Navy, and they examined me and found nothing wrong with me.”
Examiners said he had flat feet, so he did not make the Navy, he said.
“But the next week I got a letter from the Army saying report to McAlester,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw went to bases in Texas and Louisiana before heading to Europe.
“They had already kicked the Germans out of Italy and France, and we had the Germans backed up,” he said. “We got there in time for the Belgian bulge.”
The Battle of the Bulge was considered the Germans’ final offensive after the Allies got into Europe. Bradshaw was with an artillery unit that was behind the lines, backing up the infantry.
“The Germans went as far as we could see,” he said. “We registered our artillery on different spots. When we knew the Germans were starting to come out, we started firing.”
Bradshaw said he almost got shot while going through a town.
“There was a sniper left, and he took a shot at me,” he said. “He hit the ground close by.”
When a bullet hits so close, Bradshaw said, it “sounds like bacon frying.”
He said his unit was by a river when the Germans surrendered. The German army was caught between American troops and Russian troops.
“And they did not want to surrender to the Russians,” he said.
World War II
Bradshaw had little time to rest after World War II.
Within five or six years, he had enlisted with the Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Infantry. He said he was able to enlist as a young officer. He recalled having to defend Pork Chop Hill early in the Korean war.
“We never did move much,” he recalled. “We were just shooting at each other with artillery.”
Home from Korea, Bradshaw was ready to settle down with his wife. He got a job as a salesman with General Foods.
“That’s how we came to Muskogee,” he said. “General Foods had me move to Muskogee. I worked for General Foods for five years until they reorganized.”
He said he was not part of that reorganization.
Bradshaw then landed a sales job with Anderson Wholesale.
“I was with them 27 years until I retired,” he said.
Upon retirement, the couple moved back to McAlester at his wife’s request. However, by then, most family members had left that area, he said.
“All we were doing was sitting around looking at each other, so we came back to Muskogee,” he said.
Bradshaw lost his wife in 2000, just short of their 60th anniversary. He remarried in 2003. His second wife died in 2008.