1. Learning the Art of War – Pre-Flight

During the first two weeks of April, 1942, the war news was pretty bleak.

In Europe, Adolf Hitler was planning a summer offensive against Russia’s oil fields in the Caucasus and a move to seize Stalingrad.

In the Pacific, Japan was gaining control of the Philippines and, on the 9th of April, over 60,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war began a forced relocation that is now known as The Bataan Death March.

At sea, the Japanese Navy sank the Royal Navy cruisers, HMS Cornwall and Dorsetshire, the aircraft carrier, HMS Hermes, and the Royal Australian Navy destroyer, HMAS Vampire. Continue reading “1. Learning the Art of War – Pre-Flight”

A Girl from Maine Goes to War

On June 6th, 1944, allied forces crossed the English Channel, stormed the beaches of Normandy, and began pushing the Germans back towards Berlin. The long planned and eagerly anticipated D-Day invasion was the beginning of the end of the Nazi nightmare that had gripped Europe since September of 1939.  

However, at that moment, no one knew exactly when the war would be over. No one knew it was going take 11 more months of worldwide death, destruction, and heartache before Germany finally surrendered and another two months after that before Japan capitulated.

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Pearl Harbor & Going to War

My father graduated from Jamestown High School in Jamestown, North Dakota on June 1, 1939.  He was 17 years old.

That day, newspapers all over the country featured at least a couple of stories mentioning Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.  While the articles contain an undercurrent of concern, there was nothing specific in any of them that would indicate war in Europe was just 91 days away.

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Finding a Box of Old Letters

Just before Christmas of 2009, my parents, then in their late eighties, decided they needed to move. My father, in particular, felt they were no longer capable of living completely on their own.

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Endurance

One day, when I was in my teens, I asked my father about his experiences as a prisoner of war during World War II. The story he told was simply beyond the comprehension of a fourteen year old. Stunned, I told him I didn’t think I would have survived. I have never forgotten his quiet reply, “Son, humans are amazingly strong creatures. When the time comes, you will surprise yourself with what you are capable of and what you can endure”.

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Watching Hogan’s Heroes with my Dad

Hogan’s Heroes, the CBS sitcom about life in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II, debuted September 17th, 1965. Our family was living in Burnt Hills, New York, a small, bedroom community upstate just a few miles north of Schenectady. I was fifteen years old and just starting the 10th grade.

Continue reading “Watching Hogan’s Heroes with my Dad”