North Little Rock World War II veteran Arlis Owens was a 19-year-old newlywed living in El Paso, Arkansas, when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served with Battery A of the 250th Field Artillery Battalion where he drove a truck and set up the guns, a position he thought would keep him safe. 

“I was glad I was where I was at,” Owens said “until we were connected with the French Armored, then we went a head of everybody. We were supposed to be in the back.”

Owens spent nearly two years in Europe, enduring 297 days of combat conditions without a break. He saw firsthand some of the bloodiest battles of the war including the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.

“That was a bad, bad place,” Owens said about the Battle of the Bulge. “That was the only time we run, and I mean we run fast.”

During his time overseas, Owens didn’t communicate with his bride or his family.

“Why write,” he said. The military “had a building that all the mail went to and they had employees that went through all the mail and they would cut out anything that said might detect where you were and what you were doing,” Owens recalled.

U.S. Senator John Boozman submitted the entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.

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