Shoemaker, Roy (Interview transcript and video), 2017



Shoemaker, Roy (Interview transcript and video), 2017



Smither, James (Interviewer)


Roy Shoemaker Jr. was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan in 1930. He grew up there, finished high school in 1949 and got a job at the Whirlpool factory, and was drafted into the army soon afterward, in late 1950. He trained at Fort Hood, Texas, and was assigned to the 16th Armored Engineer Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division, and trained with their Bridge Company. Mr. Shoemaker was close to his family growing up, and had a lot of respect for his community despite multiple nationalities and low-incomes. Not long after starting at Whirlpool in 1950, Mr. Shoemaker received a draft notice. He was processed at Fort Custer and then was transported to Fort Hood, Texas via train. At Fort Hood, Mr. Shoemaker received basic training and was assigned to the 16th Arms Unit, Bridge Company. He stayed with that unit over a year, during which time he met the singer Eddie Fisher and did musical acts with him on the base. In 1952, he received orders for Korea and was assigned to B Company of the 44th Construction Engineer Battalion, where he wound up as the company clerk because he could type. He spent seven months with this unit at Taegu, some distance back from the front lines. He saw no combat, but did get to see something of the country and meet the people. One notable dimension of this interviewer is that he offers commentary on the process of racial integration in the military. As an African American from the North, he had seen little by way of discrimination before going to Texas to train, and offers keen observations on different aspects of racial discrimination in both North and South, and of the Army's efforts to desegregate Fort Hood, which was in process while he was there.





Grand Valley State University Libraries. Allendale, Michigan


Veterans History Project (U.S.)






Moving Image


Shoemaker, Roy, “Shoemaker, Roy (Interview transcript and video), 2017,” Digital Collections, accessed March 1, 2024,
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