John Balaban: My 30 Missions as a B-17 Pilot

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One time I was in the hospital. A doctor there asked me, “How do you guys do it? How do you get in an airplane to fly a mission… go through hell and high water with bullets flying all over the place? You may make it back, but some of your buddies don’t. And when you’re called on, you climb back in the airplane, get behind the controls and fly another mission. How do you do that?” I told him I was trained to do that. To defend my country. And that’s what I did. Continue reading 

Bob Allured: My Service as a WWII Navy Radio Technician

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By BOB ALLURED As told to Mary Louis It was while I was in New York, that President Roosevelt died. I was at a canteen when some other servicemen and I saw the headlines in the paper. From the photo … Continue reading 

WWII Veteran Harvey “Dusty” Rhodes: My Naval Service in the Pacific

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By HARVEY “DUSTY” RHODES As told to Kathi Bramblett, Kathy Nunes and Chris Bateman Childhood on the ranch I was born in early 1918 in Banta, a small town just northwest of Tracy in San Joaquin County. My parents, Harry and … Continue reading 

WWII Veteran Allen Penrose: The Life of a B-17 Pilot

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I feel that my three years in the Air Corps were perhaps the most rewarding years of my life. I was afforded a fabulous aviation education and was able to travel to many foreign countries, which allowed me to serve my country and help end a horrible war. I am very proud of the experience and training I received.
— Allen Penrose Continue reading 

Korean War Veteran Stanley Olsen: A U.S. Naval Pilot’s Memoir

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In early June my plane was badly damaged by ground fire and, on a wing and a prayer, I flew to an emergency landing field on one of the islands … It took three days to repair the plane
before I could return to the carrier, so all of us relaxed by sitting around drinking and telling stories. After that we continued our flights over North Korea through the withering ground fire but I was never hit again.
— Stanley Olsen Continue reading 

WWII Veteran Gerald E. Doescher: My Service on the USS Pasco

Gerald E. Doescher in May 1944

After arriving at Kodiak I boarded the transport ship USAT Barinov bound for Seattle. We were going back to get ready for the invasion of Japan.
As we pulled into Prince Rupert, Canada, we got word that a huge bomb had been dropped on Japan, wiping out a whole city. The captain tied the whistle down and just let it blow.
— Gerald Doescher Continue reading 

WWII Veteran Red Popke: My Service as a South Pacific Seabee

Red Popke in 1944

I never thought twice about going in the service. I don’t want to sound giddy about it, but it was a break for me to go in. I got three meals, and I always had a bed to sleep in. Oh I had a place to sleep at home as a kid, but meals – maybe they came and maybe they didn’t. But we were goofy over there. By that I mean uncivilized. We saw and did things you’d never imagine doing here in this country … never imagine doing if no war was going on.
— Red Popke Continue reading 

WWII Veteran Mel Reitz: My Service as a Medic in the Pacific

Mel Reitz after basic training in Oregon

We were watching some Japanese down in the field when a mortar exploded right behind us. I didn’t get a scratch, but my buddy got hit in the back. Bright red blood flowed from his wound, meaning the shrapnel had pierced his lungs. I patched him up as best I could and sent him back to the aid station, but I don’t know if he survived. I seldom found out how the guys did after I fixed them up. You got used to sending them back and never knowing.
— Mel Reitz Continue reading