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Collection Title: Pittman (Alvy Ray) World War II Memoir

Collection Number: M374

Dates: Written circa 2002, the memoir spans the period 1942 - 1945

Volume: One Folder

Provenance: Donated by Mr. Alvy Ray Pittman and Beth Harrison on September 17, 2003

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Alvy Ray Pittman was born December 5, 1922, in Kokomo, Mississippi, to Tetitha Forbes Pittman and John Alvey Pittman. He has one sister, Kathleen Pittman Singley. He attended Mandeville Elementary School and graduated from Columbia High School in 1940. Pittman then moved to Jackson to work for Ritter Food Stores. At 19, he moved to Mobile to work as a carpenter at Brookley Field for Pate Construction Company.

In 1942, Pittman joined the Marine Corps and was immediately shipped to Parris Island, South Carolina for boot camp and shortly thereafter shipped to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was originally assigned to demolition school in 1943 and became a Marine in B Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Marine Engineers, 4th Marine Division. He and his unit were then moved to Camp Pendleton, California to prepare for the 1944 assault on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. His unit would become the first unit to leave the United States and go directly into battle.

Pittman’s duty as a Marine during World War II brought him into battle on the islands of Roi-Namur, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima. At Tinian and again at Iwo Jima, he earned the honor of receiving two Bronze Stars. During his service, he was also awarded two Presidential Unit Citations, one Navy Unit Citation, and an Asian-Pacific Theater Ribbon with four battle stars.

After the surrender of the Japanese, he returned home to Columbia on November 30, 1945. On January 7, 1946, he married Elizabeth Inez Pickett, and they became the parents of three children: Elizabeth Ann Pittman Harrison, John Bradford Pittman, and Dennis Ray Pittman.

Following his discharge from the Marines, Pittman became active in the Marine Reserves, but later switched to the National Guard, in which he became a 1st Sergeant and went on to prepare soldiers to fight in the Korean War at Camp Stewart, Georgia in the early 1950’s. Pittman was responsible for training soldiers to use 90-mm anti-aircraft guns. Yet, Pittman soon received a hardship discharge because of family business.

During his career, Pittman owned and operated Concrete Products, Inc. He is currently retired and living in Hattiesburg. His interests include reading, wildlife management, and cooking.


Biographical Questionnaire completed by Alvy Ray Pittman

Contents of the Collection.

Pittman, Alvy Ray. An Oral History with Mr. Alvy Ray Pittman. Unprocessed. Hattiesburg: University of Southern Mississippi

Scope and Content:

The collection consists of items pertaining to Alvy Ray Pittman’s life before, during, and after World War II. The first item is a memoir written by Pittman that recounts his life from a young boy, to a soldier, to a father and a husband. The second item is a paper written by Beth Harrison, his daughter, titled “A Common Virtue.”

In his memoir, Pittman gives a detailed account of his life from his own perspective. He writes about his life as a young man growing up in the South and those events leading up to his enlistment in the Marine Corps. He gives a detailed account of the action he encountered on the Pacific Islands of Roi-Namur, Tinian, Saipan, and Iwo Jima. He also explains his life after the war and how he came to grips with the action he saw in the Pacific during World War II.

In “A Common Virtue,” Beth Harrison writes about her father’s reaction to anesthetics in the hospital. In her paper, she gives a detailed account of her first encounter with her father’s recurring dreams and flashbacks from his World War II days. It is filled with the dialogue she heard from her father while he was recovering from anesthetics. It is a paper dedicated to her father and his bravery, along with the other men who fought in wars.

Related Collections:

M353 U.S.S. Biloxi Collection


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