WW II Photo of Dad, posted 2012-07-10

Family History – Growing up, I remember hearing stories from my Dad and other relatives about their service during World War II.  As a child, you don’t recognize the value of these stories, and as a typical teenager I remembered hearing place names repeated over and over but placed no significance in these names.  Dad has been gone for many years now and only recently have I become more interested in where he served and details about what he did.
When my Mother entered a nursing home, I was able to keep two documents relating to Dad’s military service which allowed be to do some web research and get a little more information. The first document was Dad’s Honorable Discharge which showed that he was discharged from the 35th Fighter Squadron, Army of the United States (this was before the Air Force was a separate branch of the military) on October 6, 1945, at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas.
A Wikepedia search revealed some information about the 35th, “In March 1942, the newly named 35th Fighter Squadron entered combat in the Pacific. During World War II, its members flew a variety of aircraft, including the P-40 and the P-38 Lightning and accounted for 124 kills. During this time, the unit was based in Australia, New Guinea, Leyte and le Shima. The squadron scored the final American aerial victories of the war on 14 August 1945. By war’s end, the 35th moved to Fukuoka Air Base, Japan, to fly P-51 Mustangs.” These were the same places that I had heard named during my youth.
I then reviewed another separation document (the equivalent of a DD Form 214 today) that showed Dad had entered the Army on March 6, 1942, at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. He was overseas by April 21, 1942. Between his induction and his discharge on October 6, 1945, he spent only 1 month and 26 days in the U.S. and spent the remainder of his time in the Pacific Theater. He served first as an Airplane and Engine Mechanic and then later as a General Carpenter. The Battles and Campaigns where he served were the Bismarck Archipelago, the Air Offensive Japan, the Western Pacific, the New Guinea, the Southern Philippines Luzon, the Ryukyus, and the China Defense. He received the Good Conduct Medal, the Distinguished Unit Badge with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Star, and the AP Service Ribbon with one Silver Service Star and three Bronze Service Stars.
As I look through this information now, it makes me wish that I had taken the time to sit down with Dad and hear the real “rest of the story”. The few photos that we have from the time would seem to show both the beauty of where they were along with the danger they lived with from day to day (including crashed airplanes whose pilots probably never made it home). The number of remaining individuals who served during World War II continues to dwindle. Hopefully families of those who are still around can capture their stories so that others may learn from them.

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