The Greatest Generation......

Bazza

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At least he was able to celebrate his birthday in style (see post #46 above) before passing....

Oldest US veteran of WWII, Lawrence N. Brooks, dies at 112

Brooks, born on Sept. 12, 1909, was known for his good-natured sense of humor, positivity and kindness. When asked for his secret to a long life, he often said, “serving God and being nice to people.”

“I don’t have no hard feelings toward nobody,” he said during a 2014 oral history interview with the museum. “I just want everything to be lovely, to come out right. I want people to have fun and enjoy themselves — be happy and not sad.”

On sunny days, Brooks was known for sitting on the front porch of the double shotgun house he shared with daughter Vanessa Brooks in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans. Neighbors would call out to the local celebrity, wave and bring him soda and snacks.

Brooks was passionate about the New Orleans Saints football team and never missed a game, his daughter said. His church, St. Luke’s Episcopal, was also close to his heart and he never missed a Sunday service until the coronavirus pandemic hit.
 
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Bazza

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One of my fav. actors........

Despite finding fame as one of Hollywood's top leading men, Jimmy traded in the red carpet to enlist in the United States Army in 1941, just months after winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in "The Philadelphia Story". An accomplished pilot and a natural leader, Jimmy petitioned the Army Air Force for the opportunity to fight for his country. He got his wish, and in November 1943, Stewart was sent to Tibenham, England, as part of the 445th Bombardment Group, later moving to the 453rd BG at Old Buckingham. In total, Jimmy flew twenty missions as a B-24 command pilot, wing commander and squadron commander. When he wasn't flying, he could be found in the control tower, anxiously waiting for his boys to return. Jimmy Stewart rarely talked about the war years, although many have argued that it was this experience that allowed Stewart to portray the true human frailty and emotional complexity of his character in "It's A Wonderful Life". I put together this short video to celebrate and reflect on Jimmy Stewart's wartime leadership and immense talent, both on and off the screen.

 
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Tideflyer

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One of my fav. actors........

Despite finding fame as one of Hollywood's top leading men, Jimmy traded in the red carpet to enlist in the United States Army in 1941, just months after winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in "The Philadelphia Story". An accomplished pilot and a natural leader, Jimmy petitioned the Army Air Force for the opportunity to fight for his country. He got his wish, and in November 1943, Stewart was sent to Tibenham, England, as part of the 445th Bombardment Group, later moving to the 453rd BG at Old Buckingham. In total, Jimmy flew twenty missions as a B-24 command pilot, wing commander and squadron commander. When he wasn't flying, he could be found in the control tower, anxiously waiting for his boys to return. Jimmy Stewart rarely talked about the war years, although many have argued that it was this experience that allowed Stewart to portray the true human frailty and emotional complexity of his character in "It's A Wonderful Life". I put together this short video to celebrate and reflect on Jimmy Stewart's wartime leadership and immense talent, both on and off the screen.

A favorite of mine too, for sure. He was just different from the others. A great American.
 
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Bazza

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The Incredible story of WW II Medal of Honor recipient Francis Curry the "One man Army."
Francis Currey, one of the last three living World War II Medal of Honor recipients, died in October of 2019 at his home in upstate New York. Currey was responsible for rescuing a pinned-down platoon of anti-tank soldiers, the elimination of an enemy tank, and the withdrawal of crews in three additional tanks while defending a bridge crossing in Malmedy, Belgium, on Dec. 21, 1944.
The Medal of Honor is a snapshot into a single day; history remembers the heroism, but we often forget that for those who survive, the humanity remains. There is still so much more to live for, so much more to accomplish, and so much more to do. Currey described how he beat the statistics for a soldier in combat during World War II. “The average lifespan of an infantry rifleman was 10 days,” Currey told National WWII Museum. “A platoon leader, even less … the 21st of December was just one day of nine months as far as I was concerned at the time.”
Currey was only 5 years old when his father died; at 12, his mother also passed away, leaving him to grow up in a foster care program. He received room and board on a farm in Hurleyville, New York, and enlisted in the U.S. Army in June 1943 at age 17.
Currey participated in some stateside training including the Louisiana Maneuvers, one of the last large exercises, before he was sent off to war. President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order declaring that all soldiers must be at least 19 years old before they deployed, and Currey hit that milestone on June 29. He arrived in England with a replacement unit, went through Omaha Beach a few months after D-Day, and then he was held in a replacement depot as the effort to push the Germans into Belgium unfolded. The heavy losses came once they hit the Siegfried Line, a fortified barrier that halted the advancement of American forces.
“I went through France almost like a tourist,” Currey said with a chuckle. “I can remember going up to the front, and the Army crossed right down to the Champs-Élysées in Paris. And I say, it looks like a tour. This is great!” Currey met up with the 30th Infantry Division in the Netherlands and saw his first combat in Kerkrade, Holland, in September. The company commander came to the rear to pick up Currey and two other replacements. They asked if they could all stick together. The company commander answered, “No problem, I just lost a whole squad today,” Currey recollected. “We looked at each other and thought, oh man, what are we getting into?”
During September and October they fought through the Siegfried Line, which expanded into several villages. They attacked the German city of Aachen from the northern flank. Later, near a bridge in Malmedy, a recon group along with a company commander gave them intelligence that said enemy armor couldn’t operate there. “We’ve been there about two days, and 4 o’clock that morning, here come the German tanks,” Currey said. “I always considered Army Intelligence an oxymoron.”
Gunfire echoed in the distance where an advanced force of Norwegian anti-tank squadmates and anti-tank guns were overrun, which forced them to retreat to cover. Their half-track was left near the abandoned Army hospital where Currey and his team were. “Next thing we know it, here comes a German tank barreling right down the highway towards us,” remembers Currey. “It was about 4 o’clock in the morning, just hazy light, and I could see it was German, and a German tanker was up in the turret, and I opened up on him and bugged him up with my Browning [Browning Automatic Rifle or BAR].” The tank continued across the bridge where their company post had a bazooka that fired a shot into its gas tank.
Another German tank followed, so Currey’s eight-man squad ran into a factory as they were too exposed on the bridge. He and his reloader emerged from the factory and returned to their old position, this time holding a bazooka of their own. “I don’t know how I ever did it, but apparently, what happened was, it was an American Sherman, they had captured it and put on German insignia,” Currey recalled. “And what I did was put the round right in where the turret turned and disabled it.” German infantry fought in the streets and after some time, three Germans were standing in a doorway. Currey snuck up on them and killed or wounded them with his BAR.
During another lull in the fire, Currey found that three German tanks had pulled up near the position of an American force. Currey moved to a half-track and found a whole case of anti-tank grenades. He later learned they were loud and smoky but less than effective in destroying a tank. He hid behind a bush and unloaded the rifle grenades onto their position anyway. “The tankers probably thought, Gee-wiz, we’re opened up with other things, so they abandoned the tanks.”
Two of the eight American troops he was with were wounded, so Currey positioned himself on a machine gun left behind by the Germans and covered their retreat to the Army hospital. “So here we are, six young Americans between the ages of 19 and 21, in the middle of Belgium, on a rural road, not the slightest idea of where we were, but what happened was, we were on the main road to Francorchamps. Eventually we ran into a roadblock from another one of our regiments.” They feared friendly fire as they approached from the German side, but ultimately returned to friendly lines without incident.
Currey, now a squad leader, had passed through where the Malmédy Massacre occurred and onto the town of Thirimont. The Malmédy Massacre was the deadliest mass execution of U.S. soldiers during World War II. On Jan. 14, 1945, during the Battle of the town of Thirimont, Currey sprinted through a field to the regimental headquarters of the 3rd Fallschirmjager Division, though he hadn’t realized it at the time. During the sprint, his teammate Gould was struck through the head and killed. A German machine gunner shot Currey through the elbow, and another soldier crashed into him through the doorway of the farmhouse.
The Germans were right above them and exchanged volleys of hand grenades. The Germans barricaded themselves behind a door and, since tanks weren’t used to wipe out houses during the battle, Currey elected to set fire to hay from the barn to smoke them out. Come nightfall, foxholes couldn’t be dug because the ground would freeze. All the fighting house to house was conducted in the open. For his actions, he received both the Purple Heart and the Silver Star.
The following day he almost lost his life, as he found himself so close to the enemy that he could hear them whisper. “I remember I tried going up there once and this young German came out and he had a Schmeiser automatic [MP-40 submachine gun] and we both opened up on each other and he took my helmet because the Schmeiser climbed and the BAR didn’t.”
Currey participated in the Battle of the Bulge and was promoted to tech sergeant platoon leader for the rest of the war. He stated that the war after the Bulge was more like clean up operations than intense combat. He described one notable instance when the Air Corps bombed a street in Magdeburg and a pile of rubble in the middle of the street had a three-man crew with machine-gun emplacement standing guard.
Currey and his squad entered a nearby apartment building with a third-story balcony. They ran up the stairs and kicked in the door to find a German family eating breakfast. They froze as if they were standing still in time. His squad crawled to the balcony window, he ordered his best BAR rifleman to shoot down upon the German position, and when the job was finished, they were out of the house and moving on to the next.
After he left the Army in 1946, Currey worked for the Veterans’ Administration and took advantage of the GI Bill to go to college. He helped veterans with complicated cases get schooling and helped bring down a drug ring that was operating out of the medical center. In his later years, he traveled to schools and educated children about the war. His reputation had such a positive effect that G.I. Joe immortalizes his younger self, equipped with a mini-bazooka, a mini-BAR, and a mini-Medal-of-Honor ribbon in 1998.
On July 22, 2003, Hurleyville, New York, the town where he was raised, honored him as a local hero. In 2013, his mural was unveiled at the Sullivan County Museum. Currey was impressed with the massive crowd at the celebration, which included a flyover by Black Hawk helicopters.

FrancisCurry.jpg
 

Bazza

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Today, I learned there is a "National Purple Heart Hall of Honor" - located in New Windsor, New York.

I was picking up a few items at the Dollar General here and a lady turned her shopping cart into the aisle I was in and I said "Come on in...the water's fine!" (I always joke around a bit while out in public). She replied "Well it was really something today!" (the ocean was very furious today after the front came through last night). Then I said "Yeah, like Victory at Sea! You know - the TV show in the 60's. I used to watch it with my Dad." Then she replied "WE did too!" I asked "Your Dad was in the Navy?" She replied "Marines. Wounded at Guadalcanal."

Get this. Turns out BOTH her parents were U.S. Marines serving in WW II! Gotta say....it was a real privilege to meet this person and hear a bit about her parents. We chatted about a few other things - but that's how I found out about this "museum".

https://www.thepurpleheart.com/

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Bazza

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Lt. Col. Harry Stewart Jr. is one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.
He survived 43 combat missions during World War II and is one of only a dozen remaining Tuskegee Airmen from the famed “Red Tails” fighter group still alive.
He turns 98 on July 4 and said he’ll never forget his days escorting B-17 and B-24 bombers over Italy, Germany and Austria, taking on enemy fighters in his P-51 Mustang.

Tuskegee-Airman-Harry-Stewart.jpg
 
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Bazza

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Jack Womer (18 June 1917 - 28 December 2013) Then and Now! D-Day veteran Jack Womer is standing at the same door in Angoville-au-Plain/Normandy where he sat shortly after D-Day in 1944! Throughout his service in the 101st Airborne Division, Womer was assigned to the Demolitions Platoon of the 506th PIR Regimental Headquarters Company in the section known officially as the First Demolitions Section and nicknamed the Filthy Thirteen. Known for his astuteness in battle, which he attributed to his rigorous training by British Commandos while in the 29th Ranger Battalion, Womer was never injured in combat. Womer was among the members of the Filthy Thirteen who parachuted into Normandy, France, on 6 June 1944 as part of the Normandy Invasion (Operation Overlord). He was the only one that remained in the Filthy Thirteen and participated in Operation Market-Garden in September 1944, the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, and the advance on Berchtesgaden, Germany, in 1945. At the time of his death on December 28, 2013, Womer was the last living member of the original Filthy Thirteen.

JackWomer.jpg
 
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Bazza

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Happy Birthday to Shirley Kruse (44-W-6) turning 100 years old this year on June 22.

Shirley Chase Kruse had many memorable experiences of World War 2. She decided to serve because she wanted a challenge. Kruse does not understand why the Women Airforce Service Pilots program was not considered part of the military with the same benefits. She thought it was great when President Jimmy Carter [Annotator's Note: James Earl Carter, Jr., 39th President of the United States] gave the women in that program veteran status in 1977. The military flight training changed her life and she feels fortunate to have the experience.
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Bazza

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Interesting today meeting the couple who bought the house across from Mom. They moved here from Ft. Pierce.

His parents are both deceased, unfortunately. Her Mom though - at 94 - will be living with them. So at some point maybe she and my Mom can hang out together.

But the main reason for writing is her Dad - now deceased but lived to 92 - was a WWII flyer - B-17's and B-24's!

At some point I will learn more and share as appropriate.

He is retired from Disney and also did real estate. She does interior decorating and is also a writer and artist.

I bet they have some stories! He already told me one today about the million dollar home he sold in the Tampa area that was landscaped by the Busch Gardens' horticulturist. The seller has a Buc and Bulls souvenir shop and moved about 1/2 hour north to live where the Manatees all congregate. How cool, eh?
 

Bazza

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When the Allies landed 156,000 troops on D-Day, one woman also made the landing at Normandy on June 6, 1944.

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/martha-gellhorn-eyewitness-war

She rushed to the southern British coastline and discovered a hospital ship. She gained access to the ship by lying to the military police saying that she was supposed to interview the nurses on board, and she then stowed away in a bathroom for the journey across the English Channel.

When the ship was in position just off Omaha Beach, Martha found her way onto a landing craft serving as a water ambulance. In the process, she became one of the only women, and journalists, to land on June 6, 1944. She waded ashore and worked with the medics to get wounded men back to the hospital ship for treatment. When she got back to the hospital ship, she took time to record the conversations of the wounded soldiers from the beach as they waited to be retrieved from the beach on D-Day—again showing the human spirit in the face of war and devastation.

After D-Day, Martha was arrested by British military police and her credentials stripped. That setback , however, did not stop her. She eventually regained permission from the military to cover the war, but she was not happy with the timeline—she wanted to get back to the action immediately.

AMHP-200600-GELLHORN-01-785x1024.jpg

She was also Hemmingway's third wife.
 
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