35th Veteran of the Quarter, Donald Hollister, US Army

June 1, 2019

Donald B. Hollister was born in 1927 to Robert and Mary Hollister in Santa Barbara, California.  He had one older sister, Marian, two older brothers, Robert, Jr. and Howard, and one younger brother, Charles.

On February 23, 1942, the Japanese bombed the oil fields off the coast of California, just a few miles from where the Hollisters lived.  Each of the Hollister brothers, upon graduating high school, enlisted in the United States military.  Robert, Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to Italy, making it safely home.  Howard joined the U.S. Air Force as a B-29 Bomber Engineer.  As an experiment, the military had Howard’s plane fly through an atomic bomb blast cloud after dropping a bomb on Enewetak Atoll, a remote island in the Pacific.  Howard made it home but died at the early age of 50 due to his radiation exposure.  Charles also joined the U.S. Air Force and studied animal husbandry, training military dogs during that time.

Upon graduating high school in 1946, Donald and about 25 of his classmates enlisted in the U.S. Army.  Once physically examined in Los Angeles, the group was sent to Camp Stoneman, near Oakland, California, and rode on troop trains to Columbia, South Carolina for 2 months of basic training. Donald and his troop were then loaded back onto the trains for a 3-day ride back to Camp Stoneman, having to sleep on hard, wooden benches.

From the camp, the troop was loaded onto a ship with no knowledge of where they were going.  In January of 1947, Donald’s troop was dispersed and scattered all over Japan, wherever they were needed. He was assigned as Sergeant to the First Radio Squadron Mobile Unit Supply, which was operated by the U.S. Army Security Agency as a secret decoding operation.  The Japanese were unable to figure out how to decode the Navajo Indian language, giving the squadron an advantage.

Donald was discharged from his tour in 1948, and, to hold his rank as Sergeant, he joined the reserve for 3 years. He then returned to Fort Lawton, Washington, and went to visit his sister in Seattle. With a new 1949 Mercury he had saved for during his time in the military and had bought himself, Donald drove from Seattle straight to Santa Barbara to work in his father’s lumber yard.  In August of 1950, Donald’s father died at the age of 50, and, 2 months later, Donald was called to serve in Korea.

In 1950, the Tennessee National Guard, which was called the 194th Combat Engineers Battalion, had been reactivated in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  The Guard was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington, and was filled to full strength with reservists from the Western United States. After 2 months of training, Donald was sent by ship to Pusan, Korea: the only port open at the time. The Battle of Pusan Perimeter was a large-scale battle between the United Nations and North Korean forces, lasting from August 4 to September 18, 1950, and it was one of the first major engagements of the Korean War. As Sergeant of the supply department, Donald’s troop made their way north for about 8 or 9 months through Seoul, Korea to the 38th parallel.  The 38th parallel formed the border between North and South Korea before the Korean War. Donald was discharged in late 1951 upon completion of his tour and was sent home aboard another troop ship.

In 2014, Donald and his wife Shirley had a 2-week stay in Branson and wanted to visit Hollister, since it is the namesake of Hollister, California: the town that Donald’s ancestors had settled in during the 1850s.  While having breakfast at the Downing Street Hotel, they told the waitress their last name was Hollister.  As luck would have it, the major of Hollister, David Tate, was sitting at the next table. Mayor Tate invited the Hollisters to a City Council meeting, making Donald “Honorary Mayor” for the day. Feeling like this was their new home, Donald and Shirley, after celebrating his 90th birthday in December, decided to move from California to Hollister, Missouri in January of 2018. They have lived in the area ever since.


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