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Francis O. Ayers Oral History

Identifier: MS-3233

  • Staff Only

This interview with Francis O. Ayers provides an account of his World War II memories. After briefly describing his early history, Ayers recounts his motivations for enlisting, the nature of his training as a Paratrooper, and his experiences in combat in Europe. He served with the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division and recalls his time in Bastogne, France during the Battle of the Bulge, surrounded by Germans and finally aided by Patton's Tenth Army. He was wounded and spent some time in a Paris hospital. He later returned to liberated Paris briefly and also visited London during a two week break. After the war's end, his division was stationed in Berchtesgaden, Germany to guard Hitler's former retreat, the Eagle's Nest. Upon returning to America he attended Waynesburg College. He eventually moved to the South with his wife and two children, where he worked as a Factory Engineer Representative and later as a Sales Engineer.


  • 2001 May 8

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


0.1 Linear Feet


The Francis O. Ayers Oral History constitutes a transcript of an oral history interview with Francis O. Ayers conducted by Kate Landdeck and Ramaah Sadasivam for the Center for the Study of War and Society's Veterans Oral History Project. The interview focuses primarily on Ayers' World War II experiences as a U. S. Army Paratrooper, but also covers some pre- and post-war memories.

Biographical/Historical Note

Francis O. Ayers was born on December 31, 1925 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1943, he enlisted as a U. S. Army Paratrooper and served with the 101st Airborne in France during World War II. He was in Bastogne, France in 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge, or Battle of the Ardennes. After the war his division was stationed in Berchtesgaden to guard Hitler's former retreat, the Eagle's Nest. He received a Good Conduct Medal, a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, the Presidential Citation, the French Croix de Guerre, and the Belgian Crois de Guerre for his outstanding service. Upon return to the United States, he attended Waynesburg College outside of Pittsburgh where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree. He married his wife Jeanne in 1948 and they had two children. Ayers worked as a Factory Engineer Representative from 1953 to 1959 and a Sales Engineer from 1959 to 1973.


Collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

The Center for War and Society donated this collection to Special Collections.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA