WWII Vets....

Discussion in 'Stories' started by shadams, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. shadams

    shadams New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Occupation:
    Auto Service
    Location:
    Texas Hill Country
    Though I would post this and tell you guys about some of the old timers I have come across on the job. Its amazing how often you really come across these people if you pay attention. I bought two books, one about the war in the Pacific, and the other about the European Theatre, and am having guys sign with their name and rank, with a little about what they did while they were in. Its kind of a long read, and I copied it from another forum I am a member of that I had originally posted it in so bear with me, the lines in between indicate different posts on different dates, enjoy!


    Ok, so some of us have mentioned in other posts how much respect we have for members of the military, esp those from the WWII era that are slowly but surely leaving us. Because of that I have always made a point to ask these fellows about their experiences because most of them are really eager to talk about it.

    One of my customers came in and I noticed the purple heart on his license plate. I asked him how he got it and turns out he was a tank commander in WWII and was injured in combat. He went off on a big ol' story and ended it by telling me if I wanted it, he had a book for me about his experiences in Europe that one of the guys in his division had written. I told him bring it on one condition, that he sign it for me. Not only did he do that, but he wrote a little story on the inner cover!

    That started all kinds of trouble, because next I remembered one of my really good customers was retired military and a few years back I asked him what the sticker of the SR-71 with +3 in the middle on the back of his Denali meant(I had a hunch). He told me he was a retired 2 star General and was an SR-71 pilot. So a few days later he came in and I told him the story of the tank commander and asked him if I could find a book or picture would he sign it for me. He said "Dont worry, I'll bring you something" and the following day brought me 2 8x10 photos, 1 with 2 Blackbirds sitting on a desert runway, the other was him and his wife in front of the Blackbird after his final flight, both signed to me personally.

    In my job I fortunately come across these guys time after time and to me they are so much more important than any celebrity that some people fall over for. I honestly cant get enough stories from the guys and intend on collecting pictures/books/signatures from whoever I can.

    Today was another day for this type of thing. I heard on the radio that the surviving "Doolittle Raiders" were having their annual reunion in San Antonio this year, and the Colonel D-ick Cole, who was Doolittle's co-pilot on plane #1, would be there. Hearing that name rang a bell in my head, and when I got back to my computer I pulled up a one R.E. Cole who has been an customer of mine for a few years now. Then I did a search and found out this Raider guy's real name was Richard E. Cole. I thought, there's no way. I did a little searching and found out this Raider guy lives in Comfort, TX and guess where my customer lives? . So the dozen or so times I have talked/helped/shook hands with this guy I had no idea who he was, nor did he make it known. So I just left him a message on his phone to give me a call, as I know him by name and vice-versa.

    I cant wait to re-meet this guy and shake his hand, and if he will sign me a picture or 2 of a B-25 or group photo it will go right up on my wall.

    _________________________________________________________________

    Just got a call from Colonel R.E. Cole confirming he's the guy!!!! He told me he's just like everyone else and doesnt go around advertising the fact, I told him that it was an honor to have met him and told him to come on by and I'll pay for his next service. He invited me to the reunion and mentioned that all of the proceeds go to local charity's. Man how awesome!!!

    _________________________________________________________________

    Gotta add another one to the list, kind of the same situation. Guy thats been coming here for years came in and had on an Airforce hat, never really noticed before so I thought he'd get a kick out of the story about the Raider. Ends up he unknowingly helped train the pilots that flew in the Raid, when they were at Elgin AFB in FL. He'll be back soon as he needs some repairs and I told him to get ready to tell some stories and have his signing hand ready!!

    _________________________________________________________________

    So since my last post, I had one customer, again, someone who had been coming in for a while, that I found out was a Navy medic during the Pacific War. He signed my book I bought, and told me he had 7 beach landings duRing his duty and saw some unspeakable things. This guy is great, about 4 1/2 feet tall now and drives a Lucerne.

    Today a guy came in and I found out he was a Navy Sub Hunter, and flew A PBJ sea plane during the Cold War Era in search of Russian Subs, he told me to get a six pack and he could tell me all kinds of stories.

    R.E. Cole finally came in (the Doolittle Raider, see above) and signed my book for me, and in return I paid for his oil change, which he tried desperately to not let me do and kept writing out his check, I told him he could give it to me, but I would tear it up.

    _________________________________________________________________

    So since its been a while, I thought I would recap some of the guys I have met since the intial post:

    Richard Rhodes - USN, on destroyer during Korean War. (deceased)

    John Henry - Sgt US Army- Tank Commander, Landed at Normandy and fought almost all the way to Berlin before being wounded and was awarded a purple heart.

    Richard E Cole - 2nd LT, US Army, co-pilot for Doolittle, crew #1 Doolittle Raiders.

    Fred "Monty" Montez - SCPO USN USS CORRIGADOR (carrier) Served 1943-1973

    Towson K Minor - PFC 1st Marine Division, Amtrac driver, Guam Landing

    James R Gregg - Gunner First Class, Seaplane Tender Ship, AV-Bering Strait

    Lloyd Bickle - C/Msgt USAF 8 years in Pacific, Served from 1940-1962 Based in FL and was involved in Training for the "Doolittle Raid"

    Dr Adolph Kauffmann - Navy Corpsman, LST 463/LCT's #36-37. 7 invasions and landings S Pacific 1943-1946. (became an accomplished Surgeon, at age ~85 is now consulting)

    Willis R McClellan - 101st Airborne- Msgt- 1938-1961 Paratropper during the Invasion of Normandy (deceased).

    Eldo Young - USN - USS Enterprise (carrier) - Involved in 22 naval battles with carrier group.

    I also found a guy wandering around in our parts dept one day wearing a WWII veteran cap, I stopped to thank him for his service, and he told me "On behalf of those that were there, and most importantly, those that didnt make it back, I accept your thanks". He was in a hurry so I didnt get a chance to talk with him more.

    Last but not least, I had a guy come in last night (didnt catch his name) that had a "Former POW" license plate. He told me he was a B-24 pilot and was shot down over Germany and captured. He is supposed to come back this afternoon for a repair so we can talk more. I went to the used book store last night and bought a very nice hardcover book detailing events in WWII so I can get more "autographs" as a keepsake. Cant wait

    _________________________________________________________________

    So the B-24 Pilot was Major Richard Parsons, shot down over the Ploesti (sp?) oil fields in Romania and was a POW for the remainder of the war, guy was great to talk to.

    2nd Lt Richard Drury, captured and interned while catching some Z's in an abandoned farm house with his group. He said it the the first time in a year they had seen a bed with clean sheets and couldnt resist, fortunately for him the war was over 3 weeks later, and he said he was treated well.

    Sgt Doyce Horner USAF 41-45

    CPL Ivey Simmons USAF 45-47

    CPL Robert Monroe USAF 42-45 386th Bomber Group, worked on all the major Bombers during the war.

    CPT Buck Turner, USN F4A Corsair pilot, P51 Mustang Pilot. Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient. 43-50 This guy told me that one of his wingmen was shot down over Okinawa. He located him, and somehow landed his Corsair, got his buddy out of his wrecked plane, put him in his seat and strapped him in, sat on his lap, and flew the plane back to the carrier. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his efforts.

    Petty Officer 3rd Class Arthur Bernstein 47-50 USS Helena CA75

    Herman Billnitzer - Medic - 1st Marine Division 42-45 Served on Guadalcanal, New Britian, Occupation of Japan

    _________________________________________________________________

    Met a few more guys to add to the list:

    PFC John Skirvin 1st Calv Div, BAR Man (machine gunner) in SW pacific. WWII and Korean War veteran. Has two purple hearts and a metal plate in his head that was recently removed, so he literally has half a skull. Sent me a biography of his ordeal in both wars, very cool.

    1st Lt - Robert M Hill, 31st Recon, 31st Inf Div. Bad ass dude, went out ahead of everyone else to scope it all out.

    Machinst Mate Ritchie - Mech on Destroyer 42'-45'

    Lt Col John Bauer - B-17 Pilot WWII - Not really receptive to talking about it, which I can certainly understand.

    Major Daniel Leoneski - B-17 Pilot WWII

    Really having a good time with this, these guys usually light up when I thank them for their service, although most of them downplay it bigtime. Thank a Veteran today, and thank all service members when you see them!
    _________________________________________________________________

    Anyway, as I was finishing this up, a customer of mine came in and caught me and we started talking, turns out he was a Marine Pilot and had over 250 combat missions in the A-4 Skyhawk!

    Just goes to show you never know who you might be dealing with in your day to day activites, and if you keep your eyes peeled you may find out! Take care!!
     
  2. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    28
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Substitute teacher; graduate student
    Location:
    Connecticut, United States
    Interesting stuff Shadams, pretty cool.

    Never really had a chance to talk to veterans. I do remember my old high school PC aps teacher was a retired marine from Vietnam. He told the class a bunch of stories of his experience, and I was pretty intrigued by it.
     
  3. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2006
    Messages:
    1,900
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Still a student
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    thanks for the stories. I wonder if I have shook the hand of some WWII vet and never even knew it.
     
  4. seesul

    seesul Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,519
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Zlin, Czech Republic
    Home Page:
    You´re lucky man Shadams!
     
  5. seesul

    seesul Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Messages:
    3,519
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Zlin, Czech Republic
    Home Page:
    BTW, should you have a chance to speak to CPT Buck Turner once again, could you ask him for his opinion on comparison of Mustang vs. Corsair?
     
  6. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Messages:
    7,905
    Likes Received:
    189
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    IT Nerd
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx Jubail, Saudi Arabia
    Man oh man, keep the stories coming if you can.
     
  7. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2008
    Messages:
    6,592
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    IT
    Location:
    Hurst, Texas
    I'm with you, Shadam!! One of the (few) perks of working in Retail is that you get to meet all sorts of characters. I chatted for a few with a guy who was Army just before/during the early stages of Vietnam. I don't know a whole heck of a lot about 'Nam, but I was happy to shake his hand anyway. I've met a P-38 pilot, -51 pilot, radio operator on a -17, ball turret gunner on a -24, radio operator on an SBD, a WW2 submariner, and various Marines and Army grunts (as well as a WAAF, who was very surprised I knew who "Fifinella" was). Unfortunately, retail being retail, I don't often get the chance to talk much with them, but quite a few have come back with a pretense of buying something, and then "happen" to end up talking some more. Wish I could keep a selection of books, and get an autograph (I have one so far), but I haven't worked up the nerve to ask yet. For a sales guy, I'm kinda shy.
     
  8. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages:
    51,156
    Likes Received:
    847
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Adelaide Sth. Aust.
    Great stories, thanks for sharing them.......:salute:
     
Loading...

Share This Page