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A Story About My Dad: A WWII Glider Pilot

In 1960 my father was an Air Force master sergeant stationed at Tachikawa Air Base, Japan. His job was editor of the base newspaper and sometimes he would take me with him when he went out for a story or to take photos. I was 9 years old and on this day a big general was arriving on base and I went with him to the base terminal to watch his plane land and see my dad get his story. When we arrived he took me outside by the fence to stand and wait for him. The plane landed and the general came out and talked on a speaker to the people greeting him. After a while they walked away and got into cars and left.

My father was standing near the plane writing into his notepad when one of the plane’s pilots got out and walked by him. After a few steps the captain stopped and backed up talking to my father. They talked for about 10-15 minutes, then they shook hands and the pilot took a step back and gave a hard salute to my father who returned his salute and then the captain walked away.

My father walked over and got me and we got into our car. I ask my father, “Daddy, that man was an officer and you’re not an officer, why did he salute you?” My dad smiled and said, “See the wings I have on my uniform?” I said “yes,” and then he said, “well, my wings have a ‘G’ in the middle and that means I was a ‘Glider Pilot’ during World War II and he knew that was ‘special’ and he wanted to thank me for my service.” That was the first time my dad ever told me he had been a glider pilot during the war.

Loretta Brown

Wouldn’t know where to start so… will make a long story short “if” possible:

Our 24 year active duty U.S. Army Dad from Anderson, Indiana was a WWII, Korean & Vietnam hero to my family. He met our mom TDY in Athens. Then stationed at bases as follows: My sister and I born in Izmir, brother born in Madrid, Chicago, Ft. Meade, Maryland, Istanbul, Yuma Proving Grounds, Athens (Dad was in Vietnam), Germany, Oakland Army Base, SF Presidio. After he retired he worked another 24+ years civil service for the military, we moved back to Athens for a few years. Oakland Army Base & Alameda Naval Air Station.

Not to gross anyone out but at Oakland Army Base we could smell foulness from the huge warehouses, our Dad waited until we moved off base to tell us those were soldiers from Vietnam, then they were sent to their homes, not enough refrigeration for them all. Sad facts.

Our family bounced around born & raised on bases across the States and Europe. I dated and married Air Force, was in Germany then Edwards AFB in California. My sister also married AF and now lives in Florida.

Although no longer living the military life. It doesn’t just go away, I have so many memories I hold dear to my heart, met friends around the world and kept them.

When stationed overseas, the joy of entering the bases was a fantastic feeling got our hearts pumping to see the water tower, guards at gate, American flag & green grass. I called it mini-America. Stars & Stripes were our hangout for comic books. Although we were never wealthy, we were rich with experience of different languages, cultures and appreciation for people from all over.

Lost our Dad Ken and baby brother Kenny 2 years ago. Although civilians, our Mom, sister and I still feel like we served with our Dad. We come from a family who are very proud US Army Brats and Americans!

Loretta_Brown2

Patrick Mayock

Went to 4 HS. in 4 yrs. Traveled around the country pouring specialty concrete. So many things to tell. Separation anxiety is not in my bag. That surprise’s people. Had a long bout with drugs. A few stories there, (I’m 55 now), and all the things my father showed me, (he was NCOIC as long as I can remember). Breaks my heart to see how veterans are treated now. I have a lot of opinions there. My father’s wisdom and voice are as natural to me as air. Wish the politics were even close to common sense both personally and application that he had. When bored as a kid in the Philippines, (lived there over 9 yrs.), we would walk the perimeter fence and find all kinds of WWII stuff. Explored caves, went to Corregidor, dived near wrecked planes. My life is not going as well as most, I blame being an Air Force brat. I see the envy from my friends, but that is not important! Just not rooted the same as my peers. I saw some incredible things, did some interesting things. Haven’t really sat down and dwelled on it.

Patricia Self

We were really lucky as a family, because we went to Japan in 1953 and Germany in 1960. My dad was sent to Korea in 1952 and we moved to Riverside, CA to be close to March AFB. When hostilities ended, he was assigned to FEAF in Tokyo and we boarded the E.D. Patrick to cross the Pacific and join him. My mom, sister, brother, and I went to Fort Mason while we waited for the process to begin. We’d all had our shots (so many) and immunizations. My mom came down with the ‘flu and there I was, age 9, with siblings 3 and 1. Off we went to find a meal, three times a day. Finally, it was time to board the ship. My mom was a little better, but that soon changed as we went under the Golden Gate Bridge and out into the ocean. Seasick? Oh, yes, all of us! My mom had been an Army RN in WWII and sailed both Atlantic and Pacific, but I think having had the flu weakened her system. Still, the day the ship docked in Yokohama was one of great happiness for all of us.

Off-base housing was “private rental,” and we lived in a large home owned by a Tokyo banker and his family. One wing was ours, with a private garden. Tatami mats in every room, a kitchen that I loved but was a nightmare for my mom and Sumiko, our maid. Water was obtained from huge bottles of purified origin. School (at Washington Heights) was reached via bus, which arrived each day at the bottom of a long hill beside our house. One day while waiting at the bus stop, I heard a scream that echoed in the air around us. When I returned from school that day, I discovered that Sumiko had caught her hand in the wringer of our quartermaster washing machine.

After Japan, it was Northern Virginia while my dad was at the Pentagon. And then, off to Wiesbaden where he was at USAFE. It was my junior year in high school, 1960, and HH Arnold High School (now Wiesbaden High School) was located in the Hainerberg housing area. The BX was also there, as well as the Taunus theater (where our graduation was held). We were there four years, and I went to the U of MD at Munich, where I lived in a dorm. Back to Wiesbaden, where I married after a year or so.

My then-husband couldn’t wait to be ex-Air Force, although I’d envisioned life as an Air Force wife, traveling forever. That didn’t happen, but all my ex-husbands were prior service, and I guess that counts for something! Instead, I travel by auto, whenever I can. My last airplane ride was to and from Hawai’i, and all the fun has gone out of traveling in the air. Awful seats, nothing in the way of “service,” and has anybody ever had to change flights and found the necessary boarding gates to be close together? My personal worst is DFW, where it is possible to transit and still be in time for boarding the next flight, but the last time I had to do it I was so happy that I was healthy and nimble!

Joan Kovace-Raisner

I was five years old. My dad, at age 35 with two daughters, was in the last group to be called up for the draft in WWII. My parents were shocked. They thought WWII was almost over. He was assigned to Lakehurst NJ Naval Base to work on dirigibles — hot air craft. After he completed basic training my mom, sister and I moved from Cleveland into base housing to be with him. At some point the Hindenberg blew up and everyone in the little gondola at the bottom of the craft was killed. Maybe hot air craft were cancelled then. Major changes were going on in the adult world.

Not in the kid’s world. The base was utterly filled with children of all ages and we ran in and out of everywhere and just generally ran wild. I picked up language that resulted in a very public mouth soap-washing, but generally, as a mob of Navy brats, we were never supervised or organized.

I have a vivid memory of being carried on my father’s shoulders into New York City to celebrate V-E Day. We rode the Staten Island Ferry, saw amazing fireworks, and the noise never stopped. The cheering, the firecrackers, the city lights reflected on the water, the people crowded into spaces where we would never ordinarily fit. Incredibly, the Ferry did not founder. I fell asleep on the way back to the base. It was the most exciting celebration that I have ever experienced in my life and I have lived a long time now. That was seventy years ago. Wow.