York Town Square

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Gettysburg’s Ike and Manchester’s Henry

Manchester Township resident Henry Pettit served under famed World War II Gen. Terry Allen in Europe.
He fought in a machine gun outfit. He saw the Dachau concentration camp after it was liberated. He was there to meet up with allied Soviet soldiers deep in Germany.
But one of his fondest war stories was meeting Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower near Aachen, Belgium… .

Ike asked Henry where he hailed from. Upon hearing the town of York, Ike recalled that he spent time at Camp Colt in Gettysburg.
Years later, Eisenhower, living in Gettysburg after he left the White House, visited the Gettyburg College campus on several occasions. Henry Pettit, working for a contractor there, again met Ike.
“General, I had the pleasure of shaking your hand …,” Pettit said.
Eisenhower remember touring Aachen. In later encounters on campus, Ike called Henry by his first name.
Ike could recall first names, Pettit stated this week. He confessed a weakness about remembering last names.
This week, Henry Pettit told me this story at the Mount Wolf Senior Center. I was there to talk about World War II with seniors, and I picked up this story and others.
As a writer of history, hearing such stories is a benefit of being on the speaking circuit. And it’s important to me as a newspaper editor to get out among the readers.
But Ike has it on me in remembering names of those I meet, although I’ll always remember Henry Pettit.
Background post: Book gives postive view of Gen. Jacob Devers.