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Old 12-21-2006, 05:43 PM   #1
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My Heroes: What did you/your father/grandfather do in WWII?

It is very sad to see my heroes pass. My father, a B-24 pilot with the 8th Army Air Corps in England during WWII, passed away 28 years ago. My father-in-law, a navigator in a B-17 in England, is failing in health. This generation was the greatest generation to date. What they endured and accomplished was truly amazing. Let's honor them with a thread which asks everyone what was the best story you heard from this generation?

Mine was probably the fact that my Dad left the US with his crew on his B-24 Liberator named the Sally Ann (My mother's name and my aunt's name). He flew his 30 missions and the crew remained intact. Some extended beyond their tour. The plane was lost by another crew. He remained in the reserves for 20 years but died of a heart attack one month before he was eligible to collect his benefits at the rank of Lt.Col. He was a country boy, raised on a farm, graduated from WVU in agriculture before he enlisted in the Army Air Corps - he set a great example and was a great Dad, he's my hero.

What is the best story you remember of your WWII veteran?

Moderator, slap me if this is inappropriate.


Mac and Linda Cassell
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Old 12-21-2006, 05:52 PM   #2
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My father maintained the big cranes in a steel mill and was therefore deferred from the military.

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Old 12-21-2006, 05:53 PM   #3
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My father was an engineer on board the USS Philadelphia. Went through the Panama Canal, and was one day out of port on December 7, 1941. Turned around and headed back to Pearl, living on nothing but beans and Spam (don't ask). He was later assigned to what we now call R&D for diesel propulsion.
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Old 12-21-2006, 05:57 PM   #4
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Mac, some nice thoughts here. Unfortunately I lost my father when I was 20 and he was 50 so we don't have those stories. We have an album of photos he took while overseas in WW2. He spent 4 years overthere, came back with some medals and a staff Sergent's rank.

My dad was an only child and my grandparents were in anguish every day he was gone. The only story I know was the one he used to tell about getting out of the cab in front of the house on his first day back. My grandmother in tears went down the sidewalk to greet him with open arms. My grandfather ran past her yelling to her not to get excited (she had a bad heart) over and over as he got to my dad first hugging him to death.
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:04 PM   #5
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Thumbs up Thank You

Thanks for reminding us of the great stories of THE GREATEST GENERATION. It always pissed me off (pardon my French) that my dad died at age 85 having served in WWII, Korea, and VietNam and couldn't even get an "honor" guard at his funeral. We did get a rep from the local VFW to present the flag to my oldest sister (Mom had passed away just 3 mos earlier).

My father rarely/never talked about his war experiences. He talked me out of going into the Army (he was a paratrooper with the 82nd and 101st airborne) and so I spent my 25 years of military service with the Coast Guard.

The most touching thing he did for me (middle of 8 kids, 3rd son of 5 sons) was take me aside at my Mom's funeral and give me his Master Parachutist wings. Told me (nearing retirement myself at that time) that I was the only son who had "earned" them by my military service.

Again, thanks for reminding me - especially during this season - of my Dad and those like him who served our country so well. To all the other vets out there...THANK YOU for your service. And, if we ever hook up at a rally, the first one (of many?) is on me.

Jerry and Avis
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:20 PM   #6
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Don't forget about your women!!

What about your grandmother, mother????
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:31 PM   #7
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Both of my grandfathers were deferred from Military service, one was a Dairy Farmer and the other a machinist in a defense plant. And I inherited both of there loves, one for the out doors and agriculture (don't complain about the farmers with your mouth full ) and a love of intricate machinery as well as the joy of fixing something relatively complicated.

....so many Airstreams....so little time...
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:47 PM   #8
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My mother was in the first detachment of WACs to go on active duty other than nursing. She got to New Guinea and the Phillipines in Army Intelligence. My father also served but did not get stationed overseas.

My wife's father was career Army with the 82nd Airborne in the Pacific Theatre. Her uncle, Mark Doane, was with JAG Corps and participated in the Nuremburg trials.
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:52 PM   #9
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Smile Good to remember the many ways people served

A nice thread to remember our elders. I love to read these stories.

My grandfather and his 6 brothers all served in ww2 it was after the tragedy of the Sullivans so they were all stationed in different places. Grandpa was in the Pacific on a ship and he lost a lot of friends in Corregidor. Grandpa and his brothers were all first generation Americans (from Belgium). They didn't learn any language as kids but English because their parents wanted them to fit in and be Americans.

They told us a story about how their uncle in Belgium had been picked up by the Nazis and put in a camp (for resisting during the war) and then after he was released the Russians took over and put him in a labor camp. So in the 1950s he returned home to Ghent and died on the front porch, he had just made it home. They told us never to take our freedom for granted.

My other grandpa served at home (too old for service) working for Detroit Edison.

Course now the women in the family worked and served on the homefront as well, couldn't have done it without them!!
Steph in MI Air# 6996-
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:55 PM   #10
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Aluminum Expert...

My Dad was one of 3 Sales Engineers Alcoa sent to LA in 1939 to work with the emerging aircraft industry to help them design planes for the war effort. He was extended member of North American Aviation design team for Mustang (called out at midnight to examine first captured Messerschmidt and furnished mail-order German Aeronautical Engineering Journals to Edgar Schmued and the design team..).

He also worked with Jack Northrop closely, and took him to premier of Fantasia at Graumann's, where they sat in back taking notes and wondering how Disney synchronized music to cartoon. (Irony that I'd one day work for HP, where the audio oscillators that enabled that were designed and built as Bill and Dave's first products). Worked with Jack on P61 Night Fighter, and several other projects, including early flying wings. He was in Jack's office when Air Force sent platoon with chain saws to cut up remaining large Flying Wings to destroy evidence of superior performance over B-36 in political payoff.. Jack was in tears, but saved his company, and lived to see prototype of B-2 as vindication...

He was also proud of helping develop TIG welding for magnesium alloys, though he didn't want politics of being part of patent, and also worked with Alcoa labs in New Kensington to develop and expedite armor plate used to protect pilots on sides and under seats in Mustangs and B-17's... Probably helped more than a few bomber crew members have children after the war, when plate stopped schrapnel from below...

He continued supporting aircraft industry from Vernon Foundry until 1950's, and went on to have very successful career at Alcoa for 44 years.. Always thought highly of Airstream designs and use of aluminum, and probably rubbed off...

John McG

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Old 12-21-2006, 07:18 PM   #11
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Thumbs up Pop in WWII

My father was an infantryman in the Army and was shipped over to the south of France in the fall of 1944. His job was to carry the ammo for a bazooka crew. They were within about 30 miles of the German border when a sniper up a tree opened up on them. While trying to get as deep as possible into a ditch, he was hit twice. Luckily a first aid station was within shouting distance. They put him on a boat to England, and then back to the good ol' USA, just in time to miss the battle of the Bulge and the worst winter Europe had experienced in about 100 years.
He received a purple heart and a 10% disability. After the war, just like so many others, he used the GI bill to get a college education. That was a great opportunity for a former farm boy from eastern NC!

Thirty years later, I qualified for a full-ride scholarship to the University of North Carolina (Go Heels!) because of his status as a disabled veteran in NC.
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Old 12-21-2006, 07:37 PM   #12
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My Dad was quite old when I was born. He was born in 1894 and I was born in 1948. My Dad joined the Marine Corps in 1911. He was still 16, but was able to lie about his age and get in. He was stationed in China during the middle teens and saw combat on several occasions during skirmishes with revolutionaries. When the United States entered World War I, he was comissioned a First Lieutenant and commanded a Marine Corps Company and saw combat in France. He left the Marine Corps in 1920. He tried to reinlist when World War II broke out, but was told that he was too old. He passed away in 1969.

SuEllyn's Dad is still living (he is 89) and we are spending Christmas with him in Jacksonville. He still drives and lives in the house where SuEllyn grew up; he has been in the house for 60 years. We have our Airstream set up in his yard as I am writing this. SuEllyn's Dad was a Sergeant in the US Army during World War II and landed at Normandy on June 6th, 1944. He was also at the battle of the Bulge, and was in one of the first combat companies to cross the Rhine into Germany. We are so very blessed to still have him with us, and in such good health on this Christmas.

SuEllyn's Mom who passed away last December ('05) at the age of 90 was also a World War II Veteran. She was a First Lieutenant in the US Army Nurse Corps. She spent the war stateside in various Military Hospitals. We were also blessed to have her with us in good health through her 90th Birthday. We had a big celebration for her which she really enjoyed. She passed away about a month later.
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Old 12-21-2006, 07:58 PM   #13
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Well, my dad is still alive, amazingly. Dad was building airplanes in Long Beach, but wanted to join the military. With severe asthma, his chances were not good, but he was finally accepted into the army, sent to the 101st Airborne. Though he was a paratrooper, he was assigned to do recon duty in Belgium. During the battle of the bulge (he calls it by a different name), he was initially knocked senseless by a percussion bomb. Being trapped, he spent a few days in a tent and went back to duty. Soon thereafter he and his fellows were discovered behind lines and fired upon with bazookas and shells.

My dad is pretty filled with shrapnel, though the most life-threatening injury was the loss of one kidney. The bullet in his spine and the various shards of metal around his heart are all still there, years later. He was awarded a silver star and two purple hearts; he's listed as 100% disabled.

Poor old guy lost his medals a year ago or so. (Had them pinned to a hat, and lost the hat.) It hurt, I could tell.

WBCCI 21043
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Old 12-21-2006, 08:15 PM   #14
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My Ol' Man

My dad was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in March. He joined the Marines in 1944 and caught the tail end of WW2, as a Captain's orderly on the USS Lexington. He was also one of the first Marines into Tokyo after VJ day. He made a career in the Marines, being assigned to a Headquarters job in "machine accounting," which was the start of computers. He ended up a mainframe programmer. He did a ton of volunteer work for Veterans organizations in retirement. It was a life well lived.

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