Sylvia Compton, Bill Toliver

Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.

Sylvia Compton
Date of birth: Dec. 16, 1921
Dates of service: May 1943 to September 1944
Hometown: Texico
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and location of service: Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia
Branch: Women’s Auxiliary Army Corp
Rank: Private 1st class
Unit: 403rd Army Band

In her words: Compton, who played the drums, said providing music and entertainment to the troops helped to boost morale.

“I just always had been patriotic and I felt it was my duty. It was exciting. Music was my life. I was right where I wanted to be and right where I felt I needed to be.”

Compton helped to entertain at dances, played for drills and with the band.

Deciding to join the service was an easy choice, she recalls. Her boyfriend of three years, a pilot, asked her to marry him before she enlisted — three weeks later they were married.
When her husband was injured during flight, she wanted to take care of him.

“(The Army) didn’t want to let me go,” she said, “they said his mother could come and take care of him.”

She said her husband hatched a plan.

“He said, ‘I could get you pregnant and then you can get out.’ We worked on that and that’s how I got out to be with him.
“We had a girl.”

Bill Toliver
Date of birth: April 14, 1923
Dates of service: October 1943 to January 1946
Hometown: Vaughn
Theater and location of service: European
Branch: Army
Rank: Captain
Lives in: Clovis
Unit and Specialty: 289th Infantry Regiment, 75th infantry division; Company M: Heavy machine gun platoon
Veterans organizations: Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 3280

In his words: Serving in three major campaigns as a platoon commander, Toliver led and guided his men through Europe — the Battle of the Bulge, Ruhr Valley and the taking of Colmar valley. They were the heavy machine gunners, often sent in ahead to lay down heavy fire and clear areas as much as possible before the other divisions moved in. Winter and poor weather were often the worst enemies, he said.

Toliver cared for his men and considered them friends even though he was their superior.

“They (his platoon) were quite young. We probably hit (the war) at a better time than those who preceded us. They were friends. (I) knew their capabilities. The unit I had … they were exceptionally good.” For his duty and meritorious service on the battle fields of Europe, Toliver was awarded two bronze stars and an Oak Leaf Cluster.

World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail:
sharna_johnson@link.freedom.com