The staff of Boomerang thank our contributors for their submissions.
The following are excerpts from stories submitted to the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Department of Veterans Services' War Era Story Project. Read full stories on the Department of Aging's website.
"The date was 1 January, 1945 at Y-29, a forward air base located close to Ash, Belgium. It was a cold day and we were preparing our P-47 Thunderbolt fighter planes of the 366 Fighter Group, 390th Fighter Squadron, for the day missions ... Luftwaffe leaders had conceived a plan several weeks before to make a mass attack on all Allied airfields in Belgium, Holland and northern France ... The object was to catch Ninth Air Force and British 2nd TAF aircraft on the ground with surprise simultaneous strikes to eliminate the superior tactical air support of American ground forces ... They knew that our pilots and crew members would be in no shape to prepare for missions that day since we would have celebrated the dawning of a new year the night before ... We on the ground rapidly took cover wherever it could be found and watched the dogfights taking place overhead. Foxholes were at a premium. We were being strafed by the Luftwaffe and our anti-aircraft were shooting, but they had to stop because our planes were engaging the enemy. One of my good friends dived under a truck for protection and later discovered that he had taken cover under a fuel truck loaded with 100 octane gasoline. One member of our squadron was hit in the leg by a bullet from a strafing plane. Only minimal damage was done to our planes that were on the ground." - Robert DeVilbiss, Westerville
"We had just re-elected our 'I hate war; if I am elected president no American boys will die on foreign soil' president. This was talk that breeds war. It was January 1940, so volunteering for the draft found me with twenty other Paulding County volunteers headed for Toledo, Ohio to be on our way into the U.S. Army. After all the examinations and clothing issues were accomplished, they sent us to Camp Shelby, Mississippi for basic training. The Ohio National Guard had preceded us there and was ready to be fleshed out as a complete unit. The 148th Infantry was one-third of the 37th Division. It was a breakdown from the old square division, revamped to be more self-contained. We would be a regiment that had all the supporting units, artillery, medics, supply, anti-tank, etc. under one command. The advantage being that any needed unit was immediately available." - William L. Sherry, Columbus
"At Ft. McClellan, we were trained as replacement troops. The intent was that those of us going through this program would go overseas to take the place of casualties, or to fill in wherever needed. By mid-December, 1943, we were finished with basic training and we thought we were ready for anything. Gene and I had a delayed route furlough, which meant that we could go to Barlow for two weeks and then report to Ft. Ord, California. We enjoyed the holidays that year in Barlow then caught a train out of Cairo, Illinois to Chicago. There, we had to change trains to pick up one going west. This was in January, and believe me, I found out in a hurry why it is called the "Windy City." It was undoubtedly the coldest I had ever been as we changed stations. It was a long three-day train ride to California, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing some of the Western states. It was here that I remember getting my first glimpse of real, live American Indians." - Jackie M. Boyd, Cincinnati
"Unlike many returning service people, my father would talk about his experiences, if asked. He was trained and served as a radar man second class, so his duty station was in the island of the ship, which contained the bridge and the control tower. He would tell the story that on January 21, 1945, one of the Hancock's planes returned from a sortie with a bomb still attached. After several attempts to release the bomb at sea, the pilot was instructed to land on the carrier. The plane made a normal landing, taxied to a point near the island, the bomb dropped, and the plane disintegrated in a blinding explosion that killed 50 men and injured 75 others." - Nancy Ollier, Cincinnati
"On January 3, 1945 we shipped out on the English ship the Maritaina, heading toward Southampton, England. There were 12,000 troops on the ship. I don't know if it was the "English stew," high waves or nerves, but most had a tin can tied around their necks to throw up in. Once there, we crossed the English Channel to Lahar, France. It took two more days to get to the action. The first night there, I drew guard duty from 2:00 to 4:00 a.m. I was to watch the horizon for anything that moved. Everything moved! In the distance, I could hear and feel the guns as well as see their flashes. The next morning I was on that front line." - Leonard Dentinger, Bloomville
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