The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » Roy Daniel Bailey

"The thing about being exceptionally happy that you are alive only lasts temporary, because all your buddies that you knew, a lot of them are still over there in graveyards." (Video Interview, 58:48)

   Roy Daniel Bailey
Collection image
Roy Bailey at time of military service
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: 71st Infantry Division
Service Location: Camp Roberts, California; Fort Benning, Georgia; Camp Kilmer, New Jersey; European Theater
Rank: Private
View Full Description

Raised in an Anchorage orphanage, Roy Bailey was educated at a school for Alaskan natives until he was 15, when he went to work fulltime. At 17, he lied about his age to get into the Army and two years later, he found himself in the midst of the European Theater’s most intense fighting. Wounded and tangled up in wires, Bailey listened as many of his comrades died in the snowy woods. When he made it back to safety, no one would believe that his wounds were inflicted by the enemy. He was given belated recognition for his valor some 50 years later at a ceremony in Alaska attended by VIPs and his family.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (80 min.)
»Photo Album  (2 photos)
 Official Documents
»Certificate awarding Roy Bailey the purple heart
 Other Materials
»View List (3 items)
More like this
»Willing to Serve: American Indians
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
Placed during training in California in a heavy weapons company in the infantry; friends were mostly Mormons from Idaho and Utah; tempted to join paratroopers but decided to stay with his buddies; assumed to be Eskimo, which he is not. (03:16) In the Black Forest, huge trees cushioned the artillery impact; the ground fire was hell; on a train, tossing cigarette butts out the window; boys running alongside picking them up; Bailey tossed a whole pack to an old man; late in the war, the German army was composed of old men, young boys, and women. (05:17) Relieving men at an outpost, running into a German squad and a fierce fight ensued; men scattered, Bailey got caught in power lines; could hear wounded men moaning; official report went out that he was Missing In Action; password had changed when he came back, he was stopped briefly; his status never changed and that went back to his family in Sitka, Alaska; no communication between him and his father because of language problems, so Bailey didn't know how worried his father was. (06:51)
Wanted to trade places for a day with the Air Force pilots, to be away from the smells, sights, and sounds of battle; combat is a never-ending nightmare; he didn't show any physical effects from it, but he was deeply affected emotionally. (02:53) Ambulance trying to find the field hospital; his stretcher put on the floor; he heard people talking about an Eskimo patient; he looked up to see who it was and was told it was him; given a cigar and a can of beer, neither of which he had a taste for; tried some French wine, but didn't care for that either. (03:34) Describing his survivor's guilt. (01:21)
How he was finally recognized for his valor; his wife working with a colonel in the Pentagon on it; she then had to talk Bailey into a public presentation; he agreed to it only if all his children could attend, which meant bringing in people from Ireland, Kentucky, and California; Alaska Airlines provided fare for family on any route they flew to Anchorage. (06:06)  
 Other Materials (3 items)
A certificate from the Alaskan government to the Veteran for his Army service during World War II A newspaper article in the Daily Sitka Sentinel about the Veteran's Army service in Europe during World War II and receiving his medals he earned years later [2/17/1999] The letters to the editor section in the Daily Sitka Sentinel with a letter from numbers people about the organization and results in honoring the Veteran [3/4/1999]

Home » Roy Daniel Bailey
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us