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War Stories part 2
War Stories II
This is a continuation from my first war stories article
About 10 years ago (around 2003), I met a man who went by the name "Mr. Cody." Mr. Cody was a mechanic during World War II. He was kind enough to sign a picture of himself next to one of the planes he worked on, the Enola Gay.
For those of you not up on military history, the Enola G ay is the B-29 that dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima, and also was spotting during the bombing of Nagasaki.
Mr. Cody was responsible for engine maintenance on engine 2 or 3 of the Enola Gay. I was able to meet Mr. Cody again and take a snapshot of the momento he keeps in his wallet. Below is a picture of him standing next to the Enola Gay.
This picture is of the Nagasaki bombing, from Wikipedia
The man who stood at ground zero
I met a man who was at ground zero. He reports he had his picture taken there holding an American Flag.
He later developed cancer in multiple organs. He did survive, thankfully.
Oscar Truman Gustus
My other grandfather had an amazing connection to Pearl Harbor.
I do not want anyone to think the other side of the family did not serve as well. My paternal grandfather had been training to be a pilot when the war broke out. He was quickly scooped up by the Army Air Corps because the Air Force did not exist yet.
During flight training, he had more flight time than the instructors!
Initially, the plan was for him to fly fighters. During one of the turns or banks, he lost consciousness. His blood couldn't reach his brain due to the G forces acting on him and his blood pressure being too low.
He ended up teaching instrument navigation on B24s at Embry Riddle Air Field, in Daytona, FL.
We never did figure out why, but my grandfather retired from the Air Corps, then Air Force just short of 20 years.
Regardless, at some point, he needed proof of honorable discharge, and contacted the VA for said papers.
The VA informed my grandfather that he had never been discharged.
Not skipping a beat, he replied "I will take my back pay then."
They found his papers quite quickly after that.
The Lady who lived in Germany, during World War II
I met an elderly lady with a very recognizably German accent. I quickly checked her birth date. Encouraged by what I found I asked her where she was born.
She confirmed my suspicions that she had grown up in Germany. She had been in her early teens during World War II.
Mindful that it might be a sore subject, I asked her if she would be willing to talk about her experiences. She agreed, and we talked the rest of the way to her home.
She had lived near a concentration camp, although she did not know the extent of what was going on there. She knew "undesirables" were there, but not much else. She did not know of the forced labor, gas chambers, and furnaces.
She said that later, her parents would admit that they were sheltering her of the harsh realities going on not far from her childhood home.
The Vietnam Vet
I met a Vietnam Veteran who talked of some of the atrocities committed by both sides of that war, too graphic to mention here, but another story he told is appropriate enough.
He was a helicopter gunner and pilot. The maintenance of the helicopter was generally performed by 2 men. He said the second man was a fairly short, but built black man who wasn't quite right.
The first time he met this man, he was threatened. "You handle the helicopter maintenance, I will handle the guns. If goes wrong on this chopper and I find out it is your fault, I will kill you," He said.
My patient was unsure how to respond, but didn't want to appear weak. He knew very little about the side guns, except for one tidbit. "If I find out you put the firing pin in backwards and these guns won't fire, I will kill you!"
The black men replied "Fair enough."
They had an uneasy, but working relationship after that.
One night, my patient had gone to a bar. He was the sole white man there. The rest of the bar was giving him a hard time, except for his gunner. A particularly large man was quite belligerent, calling names and whatnot. My patient expected a fight, and felt he would be killed in hand combat with the larger man. He had his hand on his knife, ready.
My patient's gunner said "He's with me."
The large man eyes went wide, and sweat dripped down his face. He backed down, completely cowed by this smaller man's statement.