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Harold Gailey was a healthy 24-year-old man when he shipped out to the war in Europe.

Like the thousands with him, Gailey expected to see battle.Instead, he spent three years in the English Midlands without hearing so much as a gunshot. Instead, the Kaysville man worked as a clerk - the same job he held back in Utah as a civilian at Hill Air Force Base.

"I think they looked at my service record, saw that I had graduated from college, knew how to type and had been working as a clerk."

The Air Force decided Gailey should keep doing what he obviously knew how to do. For three years, Gailey's world was a group of Quonset huts used to process arriving American Air Force troops. From Gailey's reassignment camps, the men were sent to air bases all over England.

Gailey's job was to exchange their American money for English money.

"We ventured out some, but for the most part we stayed pretty well on that camp for three years."

Gailey didn't bring home the tales of danger and heroism combat soldiers did. His biggest threat wasn't death, it was tedium. "It was just hard work. We worked every day of the week. We got a day off every once in awhile, but mostly Sunday was the same as Monday and Tuesday. We did the same thing every day."

Gailey tracked the war through the papers and the British Broadcast System. His clearest memory of the war was the day he learned the Allied Forces had invaded France.

"Never will I forget that. Everything stopped dead still. Not just quiet, but you might say frozen. There was no movement. If you were standing, you just stood there like a statue. If you had your hand in the air or whatever position you were in, you were just frozen.

"No shouting. No speech. No tears," he said. "When you finally moved, some tears came forth to all of us.

"I and the others were saying a silent but deeply emotional prayer."

Gailey was startled the day Germany's surrender was announced over the radio.

Gailey waged his three-year war with his head bent over a desk tracking payroll. Even the end of the war caught him by surprise.

"I knew the end was coming sometime, but I didn't know when. I think people up close to the front line and people flying missions had some idea. For us back in the Midlands, we had no idea."

With a wife waiting at home, he was prepared to fight but felt fortunate that he didn't have to.

"It was just luck, I guess."