"When the war started, I was in high school," Hess said. "I graduated in 1942. After high school I went to work for Boeing until 1943 when I volunteered my draft number to serve immediately."
Hess joined the Army in June 1943 and did his infantry training at Fort McClelland, Ala., where he stayed additional weeks to receive specialized instruction. With the beginning of the German counter-offensive in the Battle of the Bulge after the allied invasion of Europe, Hess took a transport ship to Italy and joined the 85th Infantry, Company B, of the 338th Regiment.
"Four of my six brothers also served in the military," Hess said. "Two of them served at the same time I did. Ed was in the South Pacific and also served in the Aleutian Islands close to Alaska. Dan served in the South Pacific and was injured and returned to the United States on a hospital ship. My two younger brothers, Cliff and John, served after World War II was over."
Hess fought in three major campaigns in Italy, including Rome/Arno, North Apennines and Po Valley.
"While serving in Italy, I lived in an extreme range of temperatures from 40 degrees below zero to over 100 degrees," said Hess. "I had frost bite in my feet and contracted malaria. My belief in God was such a comfort when I sometimes found myself alone, awaiting replacement troops."
Hess was injured in the North Apennines in October 1944. He received a Purple Heart and later a Bronze Star for service in the campaign. After recovering from his injuries, Hess returned to the 338th Regiment, his original infantry division.
"I returned to the United States after the end of the war in Italy, arriving on Sept. 2, 1945 at Camp Patrick Henry, Va.," Hess said. "I returned to my home on furlough. I arrived home the same day my brother Ed arrived. They were expecting Ed, but I was 'missing in action.' The family didn't know if I was dead or alive for 18 months. It was a comfort to be able to talk to both of my brothers who had served as we grieved together for the heroes who never were able to return to their homes and families."
Following his furlough, Hess reported to Fort Leonard Wood and was discharged on Nov. 7, 1945. He received a Combat Infantry Badge, a Rifle Marksmanship Badge, three major campaign stars, the Good Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.
Hess went on to get marry to Ruby Lee Wallace in 1947 and have four children. He took a job with the Gas Service Company in 1948 and retired in 1988.