Taps For Sgt. Salinger

J. D. Salinger died on the 27th of January.   He is best known as the author of one of the most critically acclaimed novels of the twentieth century, The Catcher In The Rye.   A contributor to such magazines as The New Yorker, Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post, he made many notable contributions to literature, including Nine Stories and the novella, Franny and Zooey.

What is less well known is that, as a young man, he served with the 12th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division.

A few months after Pearl Harbor, Salinger was drafted into the army.   He was twenty-three.   He did his basic training at Fort Dix, and was assigned to the Signal Corps at Fort Monmouth.

Salinger carried a portable typewriter everywhere.  He remained a prolific author throughout the war.   In 1942, he published “Personal Notes Of An Infantryman” in Collier’s.

In 1943, because of his fluency in French and German, Salinger trained in counter-intelligence at Fort Holabird in Baltimore.

In 1944, Salinger published “Soft-Boiled Sergeant” and “The Last Day Of Furlough” in The Saturday Evening Post.   In March, he transferred to England, where he was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division.

On the 6th of June, 1944, J. D. Salinger landed on Utah Beach.   He went on to participate in five of the bloodiest campaigns of World War II, including the Hurtgen Forest and the Battle Of The Bulge.   The son of a Polish Jew, who sold kosher cheese in Manhattan, Salinger was one of the first translators at the liberation of a concentration camp, an event that scarred him profoundly.   Interestingly, it was during the liberation of Paris that Salinger met Ernest Hemingway.

Staff Sergeant Jerome David Salinger was honorably discharged in November of 1945.

Filed under: John Samuel Tieman, Prose