Lucky Seven

Allen Dale Olson is the Museum’s Secretary/Public Affairs and recalls a Christmas during the depression, long before WWII would impact families around the world. Olson would serve in the Occupation Army in Germany in the early 1950s. 

In 1936, our mailing address was R.R. 1, Gary Indiana. R.R. for Rural Route. Not even an F for RFD (Rural Free Delivery), just R.R. No zip code. No box number.(A few years earlier, my father’s address had been just Arnold Olson, Miller, Indiana.

R.R. 1 extended from Gary, in Lake County, into our subdivision of dirt roads without names, except for the family names on mail boxes – Peterson, Borg, Johnson, Nordeen, Tranberg – Swedes all strung along roads which surely challenged the mail carrier in bad weather.

There was enough snow in 1936 – my first year in school – that I felt I had reason to believe that the mail couldn’t get to us. I wasn’t worried about Santa Claus; after all he had a sleigh and reindeer which could fly. But I had learned in my first six years that there were grandparents and aunts and uncles way off in distant Ohio that sent things at Christmas, things we kids didn’t normally see, things like toys and comic books.

The Great Depression made our family cautious about spending money, and such little surprises as my parents would spring on my brother and me were most often articles of clothing or a book to help me with Miss Sevick, my first-grade teacher. (more…)

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Please consider supporting MAMF through CFC this year…

The Museum of the American Military Family is part of the Combined Federal Campaign ( CFC). Our CFC number is 57056. Please consider supporting us on CFC.

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Military Poetry – Intermission Story (20)

Pacific Paratrooper

When only poetry will do – in their words ______

A SOLDIERS PICNIC

I like my olives sanded,
My pickles full of bugs;
I’m rustic: To be candid,
I shy from chairs and rugs.

The open field! The azure sky!
The fields of waving grain!
The piece of huckleberry pie
That’s bogged with sudden rain!

I understand the merits of
A cake that’s turned to goo;
For every bite I take and love
Mosquitoes give me two,

And naught I know can close compare
The taste of hardboiled eggs,
While bees make honey in my hair
And flies besiege my legs.

So “outdoor” is the word for me
Ah! – Give me trees to hack!
And then my first response will be
To give the damned things back.

– By M/Sgt. H. E. KELLENBERGER

**********          **********         **********          **********   …

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Sandakan POW Camp & Australian Soldiers

Pacific Paratrooper

Billy Young decided to enlist at age 15. Billy Young decided to enlist at age 15.

It remains the single-worst atrocity against Australians at war. Yet many Australians have probably never heard of Sandakan. So few men returned from the Japanese prisoner of war camp on the island of Borneo after World War II it has become a neglected chapter in Australia’s wartime history.

In fact 2,000 Australians spent time as POWs at Sandakan. And of the nearly 1,800 still captive there at the end of the war, only six men survived.

All of which makes Sydney man Billy Young rare indeed. He spent three years as a POW under the Japanese.

He is the only surviving rank and file Australian soldier who spent time at Sandakan.  And he is the only POW still alive who was imprisoned at Outram Road Jail in Singapore.

Now aged 90, he has written a book about his inspiring story. “Billy: My…

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Intermission (2) – Home Front – The Blitz Kids of Palm Beach, FL

Pacific Paratrooper

The Elliot Children

Three young siblings sit at a fountain.  Two girls in matching dresses and white, floppy bonnets; a lad in a schoolboy’s jacket and shorts.  Their smiles are subdued.  The children are long-term guests at the compound of one of Palm Beach’s more famed denizens, Charles Merrill.

Across the sea, their mother pines for her son and two daughters.  But she knows they are safer in America than they would be in England.  Night after night, the full fury of the Nazi war machine bombs their homeland.  “This photo shows Alistair, Anne and Jean Eliot one Sunday at a church in Palm Beach called Bethesda,” poet and writer Alistair Eliot, now 84, recalled. [Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.  Anne on the left; Jean in the middle.]

Charles Merrill

Their emergency host being Charles Merrill, founder of the world’s largest brokerage firm.   Alistair knows little about his family’s connections to…

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Flag Flying Days!

The folks at A Star and Stripes Flag  Corporation made this handy guide:

The American flag has played a huge part in the lives of Americans. Betsy Ross sewed the first flag in May 1776, and Congress adopted the stars and stripes as the American flag on June 14, 1777. The red coloring on the flag symbolizes hardiness and valor; white symbolizes purity and innocence; and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. If the flag is dirty or soiled, it may be washed or dry-cleaned. If the flag can no longer be repaired or used, it must be destroyed in a dignified matter. One thing many people don’t realize is that there are designated days to fly the American flag. The American flag should be displayed properly on all days when weather permits, especially on the following designated flag flying days. Properly flying the American flag is one of many great ways to show support to those who are serving — or have served — our country.

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SAVING A BASKETBALL SEASON

Allen Dale Olson

In the fall of 1944 gas rationing had become so restrictive that our rural township high school proposed cancelling its basketball season, which, for Indiana kids, would be the supreme sacrifice, especially in Portage Township where Porter County conference championships had become the norm. In 1941 we had gone undefeated until annihilation occurred at the hands of Hammond High in the state tournament.

The school board had a long-standing war effort policy of not using township busses except for daily transportation to and from school –except for the basketball team. (We did not have a football team.) But in August of 1944, even the hoopsters were facing a gameless basketball season. I still do not know how other schools in the county were dealing with gas rationing other than parents pooling their rations to drive to away games. In those days, teams did not travel far, seldom more than 20 or 25 miles to away games.

Portage Township was a farming county. Farmers had special gasoline privileges to assure their tractors and farm machinery could remain productive in the war effort. As word spread through the communities about the basketball plight, a few farmers came up with a proposal. For six of our nine away games, the farmers would pool their gas stamps so that one of them could hitch a tractor to a long trailer covered with a tarp and drive us at about 25 mph to the schools in small towns, and the Board agreed to let the school busses take us to the three games in urban schools. The trailer was heated with two kerosene portable heaters, not very effective in sub-freezing temperatures for an hour’s drive. A surprising number of fans were also willing to share gas ration stamps to car-pool to games. (more…)

WWII – in memorial

jaybluepoems

Once upon a battlefield
I stood where heroes fell,
where brothers, sons and lovers paused
to hear death’s tolling knell.

Once upon an open sea
I sailed where deep remain
the bodies of courageous men
who, by war were sadly slain.

Once upon the azure blue
I drifted through the crimson cloud
where valiant fighters dealt with death
to die alone in sullen shroud.

I’ve felt the moments summoned.
I’ve seen the grave despair.
I’ve witnessed every breath so gained
and every soul laid bare.

I’ve shed a tear not meant for me,
but for the uncaressed
that ne’er again felt warmth of love
before their final rest.

To their souls my prayer,
my honor and my truth,
that they be blessed eternal,
and blessed in memory’s youth!

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Jet Jetter

by Allen Olson

His apartment looks like an aviation museum. And why shouldn’t it? More than 40 years of flying, 26 of them on missions over Germany, the South Pacific, and Korea, followed by 15 more years of commercial airline service made him comfortable around airplanes and what they do.

Jet (his real name is Harold, but he doesn’t like it) Jetter will be 96 next month, but you’d think he’d been chasing submarines for the 29th Bomber Squadron from the Galapagos to Panama just yesterday. One of his walls is covered by a map showing the route he and his squadron followed across the South Pacific.

Familiar Air Force names roll off his tongue: Barksdale; Sculthorpe; Hickham; McClellan followed by Japan, Ecuador, Honduras, and “The Rock” (Galapagos) about which he showed me a report by Eleanor Roosevelt to those islands.

Jet is especially proud of an aviation museum he helped curate in Ottumwa, Iowa. (By the way, he keeps a notebook listing every aviation-related museum in the country.) Proudly, he and some of his WWII comrades created a 29th Bomber Squadron in the museum originally established for the 6th Air Force. On display there are two signed photographs of movie stars June Allyson and Gloria de Haven, both wishing good luck to the “Boys of the 29th.” And, oh yes, Jet boasts, “we even hung some pin up girl posters.”

He has already identified the museums where he wants his artifacts and military documents sent, and we are privileged to be among them. In recalling his 60 years of marriage to Alice, who died in 2012, he says family support for military members is vital. He is pleased that the Museum of the American Military Family is independent, tied to all branches of service, and that there will be a memorial dedicated to military families going up on the National Guard complex in Santa Fe.

Jet has lost none of his sense of humor and still laughs at a sign taken from The Rock to Ottumwa. It is a stack of arrows pointing the way to London – 6,402 miles; Chicago – 3,058 miles; Tokyo – 8,649 miles; Latrine – 1,240 steps. He has kept some of the navigation charts of his crew during their submarine pursuits, and can run his finger down each entry as if he was reporting for the first time.

Almost 70 years later, Jet can describe the differences between flying a B-24 and a C-47, what it’s like to fly a B-29, a B-52 and aircraft by Beechcraft and Boeing. His mother signed for him to enlist in the Army Air Corps at age 15, and he never looked back. After one successful mission, he was promoted on the spot from Captain to Major, and he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Today he pushes himself around in a wheelchair as if it’s a fighter jet, and the nursing home activities directors all go out of their way to give him hugs. He looks out of his third-floor apartment as if he’s selecting a landing site and admits that he’s ready for whatever comes next, which is why he is deciding where to send his vast collections of military memories.

 

Balloons in WWII

1 November – Young Japanese girls wore headbands that designated them as Special Attack Force members. Daily they would recite the Imperial Precepts for Soldiers and Sailors before they began a twelve-hour shift in a makeshift factory in Kokura, Japan. Here they were producing 40 foot balloons to carry a bomb package across the ocean […]

via November 1944 (2) — Pacific Paratrooper