Ecclesiastes 3 - "To everything there is a season….and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:8 – "A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."
Flak blackens the sky; a kaleidoscope of anti-aircraft tracers swivel and coil around your aircraft, and you and your passengers are going down. A normal descent is 72 miles per hour, your landing speed 60 mph, at 49 mph your plane could stall, crash, and kill everyone aboard. Manufacturers with names like Ford Motor Company, Gibson Refrigerator, Ward Furniture, a piano manufacturer, Schlitz Brewing Company, a coffin company, and Anheuser-Busch built the aircraft in your 1,400 plane air armada. What could possibly go wrong?
Doctor David Almand opened his medical practice in Conyers when we both were still relatively young. Goodness, how time flies when you're having fun. Albeit, only recently did I find out his father, Frank Almand, was a World War II veteran who served in Europe. This is Frank's story.
She is nationally recognized among lawyers as 'the' veteran's pension expert, yet eldercare attorney Victoria Collier concentrates most of her attention on the older generation.
The Montford Point Marines were all black, separated from white Marines in basic training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. These 'men of color' served their country in time of war yet most American businesses would not serve them. German POWs incarcerated on American soil during WWII were often shepherded to local towns for an American meal in an American restaurant. Any black soldiers on the guard detail would have to wait outside the American restaurant while the enemy POWs ate American food. The wacky parody of that American reality is too deep to fathom.
This journalist is long overdue in expressing my appreciation to the staff and our two editors, Michelle Kim and Bryan Fazio, for their unwavering support of "A Veteran's Story." Likewise, the staunchest of unfaltering supporters is our publisher, Pat Cavanaugh. Pat has always been there for me, to encourage, to offer constructive criticism, to educate, to be a confidante, and occasionally suggest that perhaps I should be measured for a straight jacket along with recommendations for a padded cell.
Harriman, TN - 1966: As one of the eager seniors attending Career Day at Harriman High School, Howard Hendrickson gave the Army recruiter an opportunity to bend his ear. Howard stated, "He kept talking about how bad basic training could be so I didn't even think about joining up." Tech School for data processing seemed the better alternative. "I had the training," he said. "But the albatross around my neck was a draft card with a 1A classification. There wasn't a job in East Tennessee to be had."
Visualize growing up in Idaho to become a University of Idaho 'Vandal', then receiving a 2nd Lieutenant's commission from their Air Force ROTC program with high hopes of soaring even higher as a fighter pilot. Then imagine the disappointment when rejected for pilot training due to the damage you caused your own unprotected ears during repeated target practice with a pistol.
According to legend, in the year 1307 the bailiff/agent of the Hapsburg Duke of Austria placed a Hapsburg hat on a pole in the town square of the small village of Altdorf, Switzerland. Once the hat was in position, he demanded anyone walking by to uncover their hats before it. As a local hunter/farmer and his son passed by, the older man refused to obey the decree.
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McDonough native Joe Turner was born in 1927 during hard times, then lived through the Great Depression. As a member of the Greatest Generation, Turner served in World War II, came home to finish college, and became a successful insurance salesman. As a history and geography enthusiast, he dreamed of going to far-off places, of glimpsing history, and vacationing in countries he'd only read about or studied in school.
Wake Island is a pint-sized coral atoll in the middle of nowhere, 2,300 miles west of Honolulu and 1,510 miles east of Guam. This tiny speck of sand and palm trees actually consists of three islands - Wake, Wiles and Peale - with a combined shoreline of 12 miles. The highest elevation is 20 feet. History would record Wake Island as the only battle in World War II where an amphibious assault failed when a ragtag group of American marines, sailors, civilian workers and 45 Chamorro Islanders turned back a Japanese invasion.
Raised in the traditions and customs of the Tsalagi Native American Indians (more familiar as the Cherokees of North Carolina), Peter Elizabeth Wolfe was destined to shatter stereotypes and bring down the walls of the most exclusive Boys' Club in America - the United States military.
On May 7, 1944, 2nd Lt. William Parkinson was reported missing in action after his B-24 Liberator heavy bomber disappeared over the jungles near Lea, New Guinea. On Jan. 18, two U.S. Army officers presented the urn containing Parkinson's remains to his descendants in Conyers. After 69 years, 2nd Lt. Parkinson was finally home.
In his book "Medic," author Ben Sherman quotes a training sergeant giving the final lecture to a class of graduating Army medics: "...listen to me one more time. 'Restore breathing! Stop bleeding! Make mobile!' And you WILL do everything you learned here, every technique, every field drill, every maneuver...you will do everything absolutely perfect. And you will do ALL these things with tears in your eyes...and your stomach in your throat."
At the end of World War II, the United States government was unable to retrieve and identify more than 79,000 Americans. Almost 70 years later, more than 73,000 are still missing.
Mention All-American in Tuscaloosa or the remotest corner of Alabama and you'll hear names like running back Eddie Lacy or quarterback A.J. McCarron, two of the numerous young athletes instrumental in the Crimson Tide's most recent National Championship. Another young athlete, by every definition an All-American and 23 years old at the time, flew into aviation history on Feb. 1, 1943 as pilot of the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber named All-American.
The old recruiting slogan "Join the Navy and See the World" actually came true for Newton resident Shelton Keaton.
My thoughts are that of a Vietnam veteran concerning a Vietnam veteran, thus is as it should be.
While dining recently at Outback Steakhouse in Conyers, my wife and I were having our usual pleasant chitchat with Shannon Smith, a long-time Outback employee and family friend, when he conveyed his admiration of "A Veteran's Story." Shannon said he loved the articles, especially the stories of our aging warriors of World War II, and asked if I'd consider writing a story about his grandfather, a British fighter pilot. You bet'cha.
Rockdale resident Irene Burquest facilitated the role of women in the military serving as a recruiter and publicity guru during World War II with the Women's Army Auxiliary Corp - WAAC (later called WAC). When asked why she joined, Burquest said, "Well, it was the right thing to do." Then she grinned before admitting, "And I wanted to be where the boys are."
Peter's father, Leonardo, was born on March 13, 1863. Leonardo's future wife Anna Maria, was born on June 29, 1868. Both of Peter's parents came from the small poverty-stricken mountain top village identified as Avigliano, Italy. Seeking a better opportunity for themselves and the 11 children Leonardo and Anna Maria would procreate, they sailed on a boat to the United States of America. The baby of the family, Peter, was born on Feb. 27, 1907 in a coal mining community on the outskirts of Scranton, Pa., a little town called Dunmore.
This is the second part in a two-part series profiling World War II veteran Nicholas Oglesby who flew a B-29 Superfortress which bombed targets in Japan, Manchuria and Japanese-controlled cities in China. The first part of this story can be found here.
Unusually tall, handsome and impeccably dressed with a perfect command of the English language, the Japanese officer attempted to hoodwink the captured B-29 crew saying, "I am also an American. I was in Japan visiting my parents when war broke out, so I was pressed into service with the Japanese. I am with you 100 percent. I am a graduate of UCLA and I will take care of you. I will have breakfast served to you." The American flyboys chowed down on scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits. An uncommon feast for American POWs, but they ate it with gusto, fully ...
The Greatest Generation has often described World War II as a romantic era in the midst of worldwide misery. Along with the suffering and carnage, the timeless spark called love refused the grasp of universal hate. The bombers and the bayonets lost; the birds and the bees won. After the bombs came the babies.