“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – Jumper and the War Years

Jumper and the War Years

World’s most famous MULE-ARI-4 11 old Wilber’s best friends Alfred and Albert lived on a farm three to four miles down the road from Wilber. They all grew up together on the farms all three were drafted into the U.S. Army at the start of World War II. Alfred and Albert were brothers; they all three took their boot training in Texas. During the early part of World War lithe army still used horses and mules, they bought their mules in the state of MO. All three were taking special training to fight in the mountains little did they know they would be going to Italy. The army had them training with mules, the time came that all three had to leave for overseas, at first they were told nothing. But they got word it was Italy. It was real rugged with high mountains, that’s where the horses and mules would come in. Wilber, Alfred and Albert had mules that hauled supplies high into the mountains. They had all been fighters for a long time and had all been injured along with their mules.

They really took a liking to one mule ARI-41 1 this was the number the army gave him. This mule had been wounded three times but they were never serious injuries. After a few years the war ended in Europe. They all three were shipped home together, with their mules. The army had no further use for the mules or horses so they sold them at a big auction. Alfred and Albert loved their miles so much the paid the army ten dollars for him and bought an old Ford truck to carry him in. They loaded ARI-41 1 into the back with a lot of other surplus goods, including three old Harley 45” motorcycles. They drove to their farms in Western South Dakota, the drive was hard and they were happy to be home. It wasn’t long before they began farming again. Everything was going good family and all. The mule had become a real pet; he pulled them around the farm like a dog.

In just a few years the Korean War broke out and the U.S. got involved, things were getting bad. One day all three got special orders, you have been called back into the army. The army knew of the mule and was having a hard time getting horses and mules. The called ARI-41 1 back to be part of the team. Alfred and Albert stayed with their mule. They were all shipped to Japan and then onto Korea. It wasn’t long before all three of the boys and their mule were fighting a war. The North Koreans were high in the mountains and the mule could go were horses couldn’t, so they were keeping busy hauling supplies up front to the soldiers. The North Korean’s had mined the trail and roads and many other places so this was always a worry. One day as Alfred and Albert were on their way down the mountain someone stepped on a mine. It knocked everyone down, including the mule. It threw the men high into the air. When everyone had landed and settled they shook the dust and dirt off and checked their supplies. They looked all over for their mule, when they finally found him he was laying on the ground covered in dirt and rocks. He had stepped on the mine with his left front leg. It had blown it off with the force. The mule looked like he was in really bad shape, they knew they would have to shoot him to put him out of his misery. They checked him over real well; they got the medical kit out and cleaned off the wound. They knew they had to do something fast, so they cleaned the stump off and cut the hanging skin and flesh off. They put some good bandages on and then checked the mule over again. They found nothing and figured he was in good condition other than his leg.

They both just loved the mule and one could see he loved them too. They had been together in two wars; they looked at the mule and asked if they should put him to sleep forever? He looked at them with the saddest look in his eyes. They set up camp for the night and decided that they would wait tell morning to make a decision. They all had a pretty good night sleep and awoke in the morning to a very beautiful day. Alfred and Albert decided to get off the mountain. They looked around and noticed the mule was standing up on the three legs he had left. They feed him and gave him some water. Now they knew they had to find a way to get their mule off the mountain. The mule tried walking and then jumping, when they saw this they decided to start calling him Jumper.

They remembered during the 1930’s when the big depression was going on and everyone was really poor Mr. Jones cow had lost a front leg, in an accident on the farm. Mr. Jones was so poor he just could not afford to lose the cow so he took some 2X4 wood and made a wooden leg for it. They hooked it on with straps, it worked and in just a few days the cow was walking all over the farm. This gave them an idea; they cut a piece of tree 16-18” long and put some heavy padding on it. They took straps off some of their packs and used them to fasten the wooden leg to Jumper. They got all ready to leave and told Jumper come on lets get back to camp. They could tell Jumper was hurting so they took some of their old white lightning and gave it to him. They mixed it with a little water; it seemed to take some of the pain away. Alfred, Albert and Wilber had been making white lightning for years right along with their home made beer. Even in the army they always made their own brew. After one and a half days they reached their company base. They both checked in and also to the medic’s office. The medics bandaged their wounds and they told the Dr. of Jumper to patch up the leg. At first the Dr. said he had to report this and have the mule put to sleep. They both reminded the doctor of the time they had saved his life on the front line. He had told them if ever they needed something to just ask and he would do it for them. So the good doctor fixed Jumpers leg up and in a few weeks it was looking real nice. They built a new wooden leg for Jumper, one that fit a little better.

Alfred and Albert had been in Korea for a number of years with no leave and no R&R. They were due for a good rest and a ship was leaving for Australia in a few days so the doctor arranged for them to go. The doctor said one more thing we got this pet mule, he told him the story of Jumper and the soldiers. All had served in World War II and in the Korean War. He asked the commanding officer to please help, he reminded the man that he had helped him out several times and that he had promised to pay him back. After some fancy paper work he had Alfred and Albert and their mule on the ship headed for Australia. They spent three or four weeks on the ship but finally arrived at their destination. They all left the ship and were assigned to stay on a big farm way back in the hills. They could all three get the needed rest. On the farm they noticed all the Kangaroos that were always jumping on their rear legs. Jumper was watched them for a long time. He was talking to himself and he kept saying he could never do that. One day he decided to try jumping on his back legs, at first he fell down but he got right back up and tried again. He could walk well on his wooden leg but he really preferred to jump. After a few months of rest all three were getting itchy and needed something to do. They had been making their home brew and white lightning and caring for the fann. The word came that in a few days the Korean War would be ending. They were praying that they could go home soon and take old Jumper with. The army told them that in a few days they would be put on a troop ship and sent back home. They had told their story to the commanding officer and they told him they wanted to take Jumper home with them.

They docked in California from there it was only a few days before they were completely out of the army. They got word of a big government surplus sale. They bought Jumper for ten dollars a two and a half-ton Ford truck a welding machine and some shop tools. Prices were so good they couldn’t pass them up. They had lots of money saved up so it was no problem. They got Jumper loaded and all their goods and headed for home. In a few days they were home it was hard to believe they had served their country again. They prayed they would not be called back. Old Jumper was out running all day with the other farm animals. Alfred and Albert went back to making the best been and homemade White Lightning in the world. They were enjoying themselves again and had called their friends up. Wilber had been wounded quite bad in Korea and was discharged. He came home to South Dakota and was happy to be back. It had been eight months since he had seen Alfred and Albert, he just couldn’t wait. He called them and they all got together and had a big party. Wilber was glad to see old Jumper, he was surprised to see him jumping and getting along so good on three legs.

One day they took old Jumpers wooden leg off, he just jumped around like a rabbit. He didn’t look like he would need the wooden leg anymore. Wilber, Alfred and Albert loved having parties so they arranged for a big barn dance at Wilber’s on Saturday night. They got their musical instruments out and started playing. Drinking as if there was no end. Everyone was having a real good time giving Jumper beer. He could drink a pale full in no time at all. He really loved beer, he would start jumping around and dancing. You would have to it to believe it. Jumper put on a real show. He could get around on three legs better than some animals that have all four. All three and Jumper were beginning to be a bunch of drinkers. One day Alfred got on Jumper and to his surprise Jumper loved it, he gave Alfred a ride he would never forget.

Soon all three were riding Jumper and he just loved it. Old Jumper was jumping just like the Kangaroos. They fitted him with a saddle and they would ride him into town. He would jump around and really put on a show. As long as they fed him that homemade beer. He was happy he could get around so good on three legs. A few months after he got home Alfred got word from the army that they were awarding all three and Jumper their purple hearts and other awards. The army wanted to present these metals to them at a big event. So the V.F.W. in Wounded Knee arranged a big party. People from all over western South Dakota came, word had gotten out about Jumper. Thousands showed up, the small village just could not provide for all the people. The story made the headlines in the big city of Rapid City. All three and Jumper were now famous.

One day old Alfred’s cigar fell into a pale of beer and blew up. It reminded them off the mines in Korea but lucky for them no one was hurt. Jumper was drinking at least a pale a day and he could drink more but they didn’t want to make him a drunk. There was one thing really bad about the beer they made, it made you have really bad gas. If Jumper let on off you could smell it in the next county. The cattle and horses were starting to stay away from him because he smelled so bad. It had been raining for days and the little river was starting to look like the Missouri River. Luckily Alfred and Albert had built their farm up high in the hills. The water would not bother them, but they couldn’t get off the farm. If Jumper could only jump the river they could, but it was too wide.

With all the rain the river was really wide, Jumper drank from it all morning but it was still too wide. Alfred and Albert smoked cigars. He had four or five jugs of beer on his saddle, if he needed a drink he would reach back and get one. His cigar got to close to Jumpers tail and Jumper had just let off a big winder, one you could really smell. Alfred heard a big bang, Jumper took one big jump and he jumped the river like it was just a creek. Alfred had now found out how to really make Jumper jump. Just be sure Jumper drank that homemade beer. That beer was so powerful if the army knew about it they would buy it and use it to make bombs out of. When Alfred got to town all the people were surprised to see him. They couldn’t figure out how he had crossed the river.

Alfred told Albert and Wilber about Jumper and how he could jump so far. They all made sure Jumper had his supply of beer. All they needed was beer and cigars to get him to jump. It wasn’t long before Jumper was jumping over cars; he’d put on a real show. They took him to the county fair and he jumped over three tractors. People went crazy. The three-legged mule was now known all over western South Dakota and Nebraska. Alfred and Albert got calls from as far away as Minnesota. They wanted to see Jumper jump over cars, tractors, they had planned on taking him to a big fair in Nebraska to jump over thirty Hells Angels Motorcycles but at the last minute they got word the Angles would not be in the city. Jumper continued to jump at fairs and just how he could jump so far remained a secret with Alfred, Albert and Wilber. Just feeding Jumper his beer and smoking a cigar remains a secret to this day.

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