Nearly 76 years after he dropped out of school to join the war effort, Temple resident Paul Poston Sr. was honored for his sacrifice.
Poston, now 100 years old, was enrolled at the University of North Texas in 1941. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he left school to work at the Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant in Texarkana. He was one semester away from graduating.
On Thursday, representatives of the university came to Temple to present Poston with a certificate on behalf of UNT President Neal Smatresk.
The certificate states that it was presented to Poston “for sacrificing his personal educational goals to support the war effort. His professional achievements in machine design, mechanical engineering and other classified activities during and after World War II have made UNT proud.”
His son, Paul Poston Jr., said Poston Sr. worked his way up at the plant from a draftsman to a machine designer to an engineer. He said his father designed a machine that made it safer and more efficient to manufacture ammunition.
“The problem with assembling ammunition that is very small is that it’s pretty delicate work. A lot of time, they wouldn’t allow men to be on the line. Women were better at the detail work. People were always blowing fingers and hands off,” Poston Jr. said. “The machine he designed took the place of 26 work stations. It was all coordinated by air pressure. Back in those days, that was pretty sophisticated stuff.”
As technology continued to advance, Poston Sr. was eventually selected by his company and IBM to help implement computer operations.
“Back then, you had to write your own software,” Poston Jr. said. “He ended up becoming one of the directors of the plant over the next 20 years of his career until he retired in the early 1980s.”
The university invited Poston Sr. to accept the award on campus in Denton, but he wasn’t capable of making the trip.
“They wanted him to come to the president’s office, but he can’t travel that far, so they said, ‘We’ll come to you,’” Poston Jr. said.
Though health problems make it difficult for Poston Sr. to communicate, Poston Jr. said his father was humbled by the recognition.
“He was very gracious about it,” Poston Jr. said. “When they called and said they wanted to do that, I was pretty overwhelmed.”