LORING “LARRY” EDGERLY, a World War II veteran, poses at his Woolwich home Wednesday. Edgerly will be honored Monday during a Veterans Day observance at Nequasset Meetinghouse in Woolwich.

LORING “LARRY” EDGERLY, a World War II veteran, poses at his Woolwich home Wednesday. Edgerly will be honored Monday during a Veterans Day observance at Nequasset Meetinghouse in Woolwich.

WOOLWICH

He never had a mailbox because he’d never really needed one.

Loring Edgerly, known by most as Larry, was living in the tiny camp-size home he built on property he purchased from his mother on Murphy’s Corner Road in Woolwich in 1941.

He’d stop by the post office maybe once a week just to see if there was any mail for him.

“And one day I stopped and I had the notice that the next day I was supposed to be on the train for (Fort) Devens,” in Massachusetts, Edgerly said.

Laughing, he said, “Boy I had to do some hurrying around. I had some things I had to move up to my folks so I borrowed my neighbor’s truck.”

He left his motorcycle with his parents, too. “Boy, I didn’t have much time to spare.”

From September 1941 until his discharge in October 1945, Edgerly served four years in the U.S. Army, including 25 consecutive months overseas in Iran.

He shipped out of New York in spring of 1942 on the Robin Tuxford, a merchant ship that the captain said was too fast to travel in convoys, Edgerly said.

They arrived in Cape Town in South Africa on July 4, where they dropped off some supplies, continuing on the next morning headed for the Persian Gulf. He was in Iran and “all over the place down there.”

But Edgerly — lifelong motorcycle owner and enthusiast — still remembers the day he was told he’d be shipping out.

“That very day they were having a big motorcycle meeting down in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. A bunch of us were all ready to go when I got that notice, so I didn’t get there.”

If he hadn’t happened to stop at the post office that day, he doesn’t know what would have happened when he didn’t report for several weeks of boot camp.

Digging worms for bait at the time, he said he was in shape.

Asked how he did in boot camp, the 97-year-old said, “Well, I’m still here …”

While at Fort Devens, he went to quartermaster school for motorcycles and was sent to the Indian motorcycle factory in Springfield, where they built motorcycle engines.

At Fort Devens, “we repaired trucks and cars and everything.”

He was then shipped to Camp Lee, Va., where he taught soldiers to ride motorcycles.

Really?

“That’s right,” Edgerly said.

His military occupation is listed as auto mechanic on his records, which state he has “educational background and practical experience in installation, testing, servicing and repairing motor transmissions, clutch, differentials, etc., of Army cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles.” He was a technician fifth grade upon discharge.

When his platoon landed in Iran, there were no trucks to repair but the ship had to be unloaded and cranes put together.

The ships would arrive at the dock and Edgerly’s platoon put together equipment, “anything and everything imagined,” which would then be shipped to Russia.

Eventually, the dock system was enlarged so three instead of one ship could unload at once. Trucks would come in pieces, in boxes. Two chassis with wheels on them would come in one box and the cab in another crate, “and the ship would be loaded heap high with all of these crates,” and it was his job to put it all together. “I’d run the crane and everything.”

He put together hundreds of trucks during his months as part of the Persian Gulf Command, “that’s for sure.” That included GI trucks, Deuce and a Halfs, and Jeeps.

His first time in Iran “it was different, plenty of that, and hot! And dusty.” The men had to use netting to keep out the mosquitos and their barracks were made of straw and mud with a thatch roof and a square brick floor.

Edgerly said his tour took him to the mouth of the Euphrates River and to Tehran, about 1,000 miles north to do auto repair.

While in Tehran once, “I saw old (Russian premier Josef) Stalin himself,” riding around in a Jeep.

He came to the garage where Edgerly was working to see what they were up to. “We knew he was coming.”

He also saw Bob Hope and Bing Crosby perform during the USO Tour.

While in Iran, thousands of troops came and went. In those two years with engineers and others, “they changed that country,” he said. “We built a hot toproad clear across the desert through the mountains. They took whole sides of mountains off. Unbelievable this was.”

He wasn’t stationed in a war zone but always had to be prepared for attacks.

And if you ever went into town, “you’d always go armed,” and never alone.

Mostly, he remembers it was “god-awful hot.”

The winter brought a mud that stuck to their shoes “like snow shoes.” There were days they couldn’t work because it was too hot so they’d return to work in the evening.

They ate goat meat and drank tea or coffee; there wasn’t a lot to choose from. They would kill gazelle, which was tender and tasted like deer, and barbecued several gazelle for their Christmas dinner.

Edgerly returned to the states and married his wife, Geraldine, in Kennebunkport during a 21-day furlough in 1944.

As soon as he had his discharge papers in hand, the couple got on his motorcycle and drove home to Maine from Fort Monmouth, N.J. He was discharged Oct. 9, 1945.

He earned the European- African-Middle Eastern Service Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, a Good Conduct Medal as well as a sharpshooter medal. Edgerly said he stayed in touch with members of his platoon but over the years, lost touch and doesn’t know what happened to them.

He and Geraldine built the first section of what is now the kitchen of their home on Murphy’s Corner Road when they returned, later putting on two additions.

He continued to dig marine worms and later worked at Bath Iron Works in various shops before he retired in 1979 after almost 25 years.

Edgerly will be honored during the Woolwich Veterans Day Ceremony Monday at 11 a.m. at the Nequasset Meetinghouse.

A list of local Veteran’s Day events appears on page A6.

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