World War II vet reflects on Army experience

November 12, 2018

Riley Propps is part of what is considered “the greatest generation.”

FLORENCE, S.C. -- Riley Propps said he was drafted in the United States Army in 1942. The 96-year-old was part of the 2nd Armored Division commanded by Gen. George S. Patton Jr.

“I was in the war,” Propps said of World War II. “I rode motorcycles. I was escorting (German) prisoners from the front to the back, and escorting the GIs from the back to the front.”

Propps said he went in on D-Day, and the experience was “awful.” D-Day, June 6, 1944, was when Allied forces invaded Northern France.

After D-Day, Propps said he went across France to Belgium, and then to Sicily before heading back to England. Propps’ division was responsible for liberating Belgium from Nazi rule, as well as being the first American troops to march in Berlin, according to a previous Morning News report.

He served approximately four years at war and finished his military career as a staff sergeant. Propps said he got out of the Army as quick as he could.

“A person (who) says he enjoyed being in the military, he’s crazy,” Propps said.

He has much to show from his military experience, including several medals and stripes he earned over the years.

After leaving the Army, the West Virginia native said, he went back to his to his steady job at A&P, a former grocery store chain.

“I was a meat cutter for 40 years,” he said.

In Florence, Propps worked as a bailiff at the courthouse for more than 30 years. He recently retired from that position.

“I enjoyed myself at the courthouse. I did,” Propps said.

Since retiring, the former bailiff said, he enjoys gardening and growing tomatoes.

“I enjoy working,” Propps said. “I don’t like to lay around and not work.”

Propps turned 96 on Oct. 29, and he doesn’t mind sharing his secrets to longevity.

“Good whiskey and clean women,” he said. “You’ll live to be a hundred years old.”

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