WOWO’s Komet Hockey Announcer Bob Chase Decoded Messages during WWII

Most of us in northern Indiana recognize the name of Bob Chase as connected with WOWO radio. For 65 years, Bob Chase was an announcer for the Komet Hockey team on WOWO radio.

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Chase — actually that was his radio name based on his wife’s maiden name — his real surname was Wallenstein — a few months prior to his death in November 2016. He was so friendly and hospitable. His dog (I forget its name) was in the room with us during the interview and sat at his feet. The phone rang three times. Each time he answered it calmly and I got the impression it rang a lot, due to his range of friends and family.

I knew his heritage included a father who fought in WWI and a son in Vietnam and grandsons in the Middle East. He was proud of his family’s military heritage and I was thrilled to add his story to my book.

Here is an excerpt to his story in They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans (available on Amazon):

Upon enlisting into the US Navy in 1943 at age 17 (his parents had given written permission as he was not yet 18 years old), Robert Wallenstein of Marquette, Michigan, was sent to Farragut Naval Training Station near Athol, ID, for boot camp. He passed mental aptitude tests being administered by the Navy. “They wanted to prepare pilots for flight training with courses in math and minor engineering,” he said. Wallenstein completed two semesters at Hobart College in Geneva, NY, but was dropped from the program, only to learn about yet another program in the Navy.

“They were looking for volunteers for a special project in naval intelligence,” he said. Wallenstein applied, though he was unsure what was involved. When a thorough government background check was completed on him satisfactorily, Wallenstein was sent to cryptography (working with codes) school in Washington DC.

Upon completing the course, he was assigned to a naval station on the island of Oahu. “We climbed down ladders to get inside a mountain near Wahiawa to decode messages,” he said.

Encrypted messages had extra letters and numbers at the front and rear to disguise their meanings. “When we typed messages in code, it formed five-letter groups,” he said. “We never wrote real words.”

aChase Bob new good

Photo taken in 2016.

After the war, Mr. Wallenstein participated in the Able and Baker nuclear bomb tests held at the Bikini Atoll. “We could see their eruptions from 30 miles away,” he said.

**

You can meet other WWII vets with fascinating stories at my book launch on Saturday, Nov 4, 2017, at Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza, in Ft Wayne IN from 1-3pm. It will be a historic, memorable day with approximately one dozen vets in attendance! We’ll hope to see you there!

 

Polly Lipscomb served as an Army Nurse in WWII

My book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans, contains five stories of female veterans who served during World War II. It’s not easy finding women veterans to interview as they were fewer in number than men. But the stories I’ve heard were all amazing. These gals were plucky to serve in ‘a man’s war’.

One of the oldest veterans I’ve ever interviewed was Mary ‘Polly’ Adelaide Woodhull Lipscomb of Fort Wayne. Polly as we called her lived in the same senior retirement home as my mother. Polly was 101-years-old at the time of our interview with two of her children present. But she was full of life and excitement at the idea of talking about her life in World War II as an Army nurse, which included being married in an old English church! The photo below shows Polly standing with her son and daughter, all of them holding items that were significant to Polly during her war years of service.

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Here are excerpts from her story in my book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans:

Born in 1913 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Lipscomb earned a nursing degree from Methodist Hospital in Fort Wayne. She enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps in August 1942. With a desperate need for nurses, the Army quickly assigned First Lieutenant Lipscomb a place aboard the Queen Elizabeth, a former luxury ship converted for troops.

Taunton was located about 100 miles west of London. When Lipscomb arrived, the wards were already full of wounded British, Canadian and American soldiers.

Many patients suffered from what was termed ‘shell shock’. Since Lipscomb had worked with psychiatric patients in the States, she was assigned to that ward.

Some patients found comfort in doing simple crafts like weaving and often presented Lipscomb with their completed creations. “I treasured their gifts,” she said, including a placemat and brightly colored orange scarf.

**

What made including Polly’s story in my book a clincher was the photo album she had put together during her war years and allowed me to view.

I love looking at old photos, especially when I’ve met people in them.

Polly died in 2016. I wish she could have seen this book, but at least her family members will have it to remember her by. They plan to attend my book launch on Saturday, Nov 4, 2017, from 1-3pm at Allen Co Public Library in downtown Fort Wayne, meeting room C. The public is encouraged to meet and thank these veterans who fought in the biggest conflict the world has ever known.

If you know of a World War II veteran who would like to be interviewed, please let me know via the contact page at this website.

 

A List of Names of Vets Featured in ‘They Did It for Honor’

Caption: Virgil Bixler served in the U.S. Army’s 80th Division, 905th Artillery during WWII. He fought in Battle of the Bulge and others.

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My new book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans, contains 34 stories of men/women of every branch- Army, Navy, Army Air Corps, Marines, Merchant Marines, Coast Guard.

Here is a list of the 34 veterans featured in this book and their branch of service:

  1. James ‘Andy’ Anderson – Army
  2. Virgil Bixler – Army
  3. Charlie Conrad – Navy
  4. Gaylord Conrad – Army
  5. Lorraine Davis – Coast Guard
  6. Clairus Dew – Army Air Corps
  7. Al Edwards – Navy
  8. Charlotte Eisenhart – Women’s Army Corps (WAC)
  9. Frank Garrison – Army
  10. Dick Girocco – Navy
  11. Max Graf – Merchant Marine
  12. Sam Hayward – Navy
  13. Oren Huffer – Army Air Corps
  14. Bill Jones – Army Air Corps
  15. Bob Kiester – Army Air Corps
  16. Al Lefevra – Navy
  17. Polly Lipscomb – Army Nurse Corps
  18. Jim Meyer – Coast Guard
  19. Dale Pence – army
  20. Bob Pyle – Army
  21. Ed Robbins – Navy
  22. Walter Rumple – Army
  23. Bill Sawyer – Army
  24. Rosemary Schmidt – Navy
  25. Calvin Schultz – Army
  26. Bill Shull – Army Air Corps
  27. Bob Wallenstein (Bob Chase) – Navy
  28. Hugh Wallis – Army
  29. Bill Wellman – Marines
  30. Max Whiteleather – Army
  31. James Wiegman – Navy
  32. Don Wolfe – Army Air Corps
  33. John Wrestler – Navy
  34. Eileen Zeissig – Army Nurse Corps

**

Several of these veterans (around a dozen) have said they will be at our book launch party on Saturday, November 4, at downtown Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They will be there from 1-3pm. You’ll be able to meet them, thank them for their service and have them sign books on their respective pages!

Think what a priceless item that will be – autographs from some of our nation’s oldest veterans who served during the biggest military conflict the world has ever known!

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans will be available for $20—cash or credit cards. No checks.

My first book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans, will also be available for $15.00.

Bonus: We will sell the 2 books together for $30.00!

They would make great Veteran’s Day, birthday or Christmas gifts.

We’re expecting a good turnout so my advice would be to arrive early! Hope to see you there!

Remember to tell a veteran thanks for his/ her service!

 

 

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans is Hot Off the Press!

Wow! It’s done! My second book of World War II interviews is done!

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans contains 34 stories of men/women who served in every branch from 1941-1946. The war ended in 1945, but many continued serving during the occupation period in Japan and Europe.

The book is available on Amazon —

BUT…

Since you’re good enough to read this post, I’ll tell you it will be offered at a sale price starting Friday, September 29 for one week only until Friday, October 6. The sale price will be listed at Amazon on Friday, September 29. This will only be available for one week so be sure to make your purchase then.

Hint: It might be wise to purchase your book on Amazon rather than at the book launch as then you can immediately begin talking to the vets. Of course, I’ll be sure to sign your book that day as well!

If you can’t find the book on Amazon, search under my name. Some of you might be surprised to find I’ve also written children’s books for traditional publishers!

I’m preparing a book launch event – dare I say party? The best part is several of the vets from the book have agreed to attend as our guests of honor! This is one who will be there — Al Lefevra served in the Navy in the Pacific. He picked up this great hula skirt along the way and loves to model it!

aLefevra hula good

Yes, something could prevent them from being able to be there, but as of today, about a dozen of them will be at the downtown public library in Ft Wayne, Indiana, on Saturday, Nov 4, from 1-3pm in Meeting Room C.

They will greet the public and sign books which will be available for purchase. These are some of our nation’s oldest vets, having served 70+ years ago. I’m proud to know each one as they are humble people who obeyed orders and loved their country and its people enough to often put their lives in danger.

A couple of vets who are deceased will have family members representing them.

I’d recommend arriving early to be sure to get an opportunity to meet with them.

This is a unique opportunity! Be sure to put it on your calendar. Bring young people to enable them to experience this once-in-a-lifetime gathering!

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans releases this week!

It’s Time to Get Excited!

The book that’s been a year in the making is just about ready to be released. Just a few more days and I can’t wait!

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans has been a labor of love, but I’m thrilled with the 34 stories of men & women from every branch of the military, including Merchant Marine and Coast Guard.

There’s a story of a soldier who helped take more than 150 German soldiers prisoner at one time during the Battle of the Bulge. A sailor helped to sink the last German U-boat during the war. That’s just 2 of the 34 stories that are more exciting than fiction!

This is my second book of stories. My first book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans, was published in 2014. It is available for purchase at this site and on Amazon. I’ve now interviewed nearly 200 WWII vets, some 100 years old! Each one is a joy to know.

Lefevra crew dog

Maybe you’d rather look at photos than read. That’s ok as there are dozens of never-before-published photos of veterans from their days in uniform to the present.

The book has extra features of war-related photos, military lingo, and an index to look up battles, ships and units.

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans is a highly educational, entertaining, patriotic treasure of stories.

Nothing like tooting my own horn, is there?

I admit I’m proud because I’m proud of the people who allowed me to write their stories. They have all agreed to be in the book and signed off on their stories.

In addition, several are planning to participate in my book launch party on Saturday, November 4, 2017, at downtown Allen County Public Library from 1-3pm in meeting room C. They have agreed to sign copies of the book which will be available for purchase at the event.

Be sure to put this event on your calendar as it will be a rare opportunity to meet some of our nation’s oldest veterans who served one of the biggest conflicts in world history. I’m sorry to say but they won’t be around much longer.

I’ll let you know in a few days when the book will be available on Amazon and my website.

I hope this book will enforce patriotism in each reader as hearing the stories first-hand has done for me. I love America and the men and women who have served to keep her safe as well as the people around the world who need us.

Tell a veteran today thank you for his/ her service!

The Bridge Worth its Weight in Gold

I had heard about the battle for Remagen Bridge from several World War II veterans during interviews, but it was entirely different being there in person.

Our tour group left the Belgium Ardennes area and continued east through the Eifel Mountains. We followed the advance of the US 1st Army through to the Remagen Bridge that once spanned the River Rhine.

Remagen Br (5)

Note: Our guide pronounced it ‘RAY-ma-gen’, rather than the way my veterans who served there pronounced it with accent on the second syllable. No matter.

Having listened to my veterans and watched the 1969 movie, The Bridge at Remagen, I knew a little about what had gone on there between the Allies and Germans.

In March 1945, the American forces had just ended a victorious, but ferocious fight in the Ardennes region that had raged since mid-December.

In December 1944 the Nazis had assertively pushed into the territory of the Ardennes Forest of Belgium. The intense conflict which occurred during one of the worst winters on record became known as the Battle of the Bulge.

Like most Allied soldiers, Max Whiteleather (below) fought at the Bulge while living in fox holes filled with snow. When clouds finally cleared around Christmas, help arrived in the form of the Army Air Corps which dropped much-needed supplies.

aWhiteleather old standing

As the Allies proceeded to advance into the heart of Germany, they were ordered to advance on Remagen. The bridge was crucial to gain a toehold into enemy territory. It had to be taken intact.

German armed forces tried unsuccessfully to defend the town and the nearby bridge across the Rhine.

Aware that the Rhine River posed the last major geographic obstacle to Allied troops, Hitler had ordered that the bridge over the river be destroyed rather than lost to the Allies.

Remagen Br (9)

Thankfully, members of the 9th US Armored Division disengaged explosives set to destroy the bridge and the plans were foiled. Allied troops reached the bridge and captured it intact on March 7, 1945, enabling 8,000 Allied troops to cross it.

George Buhler (below), a veteran whose story is recorded in my first book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans, fought at Remagen. He recalled how the fighting was fierce. “The Germans shot 18-inch shells at us from railroad cars,” he said.

Buhler MP uni

Max Whiteleather had fought at D-Day on the beach of Normandy in June 1944. When his unit — 820th Engineer Aviation Battalion, Co A – was sent to Remagen, they were ordered to build an additional bridge– pontoon — across the Rhine following the Allies’ conquest.

As dozens of Allied vehicles lined up, waiting to cross, Max Whiteleather’s outfit set to work. The additional crossing helped the Allies gain the advantage needed to overcome the German Army.

Unfortunately, although the Army Corps of Engineers worked to reinforce the original bridge, which had been damaged during the conflict, on March 17 the bridge collapsed, killing 28 American soldiers.

Today, not much is left of the bridge, except its original basalt foundations and a museum about the bridge. Basalt is black stone native to Germany.

The quote in the title is by General Dwight D. Eisenhower upon learning that the Remagen Bridge had been taken intact.

For a relatively small bridge — you can see the distance in the photo — it’s amazing to think how much fighting occurred there. But as we learned on our tour of European World War II battlefields, bridges were a common place of conflict.

aThey_Did_It_for_Hono_Cover_for_Kindle

Max’s story is included in my second book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans. It contains 34 stories of men/women of every branch- Army, Navy, Army Air Corps, Marines, Merchant Marines, Coast Guard.

I’m excited to say it will be available in August 2017! Stay tuned here for more information!

Thank a veteran today for his/her service!

 

 

 

 

 

Sneak Peak – They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans

I’m putting finishing touches on my second book of World War II stories — They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans. It contains 34 stories of men/women of every branch- Army, Navy, Army Air Corps, Marines, Merchant Marines, Coast Guard. It will be available for purchase by the end of summer. I’ll announce its completion at that time.

A major book launch party is being planned that will be unique and patriotic. Details to follow!

Leading up to the book’s release and book launch, I’ll give a sneak peak of the stories included inside. Today we’ll begin with a particularly amazing story. I met Mr. James ‘Andy’ Anderson last year at a friend’s recommendation. This is the only story of its kind that I’ve heard from a World War II veteran. It’s pretty astounding, don’t you think?

**

In June 1943, Private First Class James ‘Andy’ Anderson was assigned a secret mission.

Anderson, a graduate of Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, had been drafted and assigned to the 94th Medical Gas Treatment Battalion, Third US Army. After completing basic training at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Anderson had trained as a medic at Camp Grant and Camp Ellis in Illinois. “We learned how to give shots and dress wounds on a battlefield,” he said.

At Camp Sibert in Alabama, Anderson and others in his outfit learned how to treat injuries of a chemical nature and disengage chemical warfare weapons.

Upon being sent to Bushnell Army Air Field (AAF) in Bushnell, Florida, 50 miles north of Tampa, Anderson and other GIs volunteered to participate in experiments conducted by the US Army Chemical Warfare Service. “Fourteen guys in my group went through simulations to see the effects of mustard gas to learn about advanced chemical warfare,” he said.

**

The story goes on to relate how Andy survived the testing (some soldiers did not!) and later served in Europe as a medic in some of the war’s worst battles.

Please let me know if you’d like me to add your name to my email newsletter with updates about the book’s contents, book launch party and my speaking engagements. I’ll post about the first one I’ve given since returning from our World War II trip to Europe.

During my 1-hour talk with PowerPoint presentation, I show foxholes where soldiers would have stood during the Battle of the Bulge, the Architect of Triumph in Paris where American troops would have paraded around during their liberation of that city in summer 1944.

I also describe what it was like to meet a British World War II veteran and witness an historic event that will never happen again.

This is an appropriate talk for history groups, schools, civic and churches. Contact me at the form on this site.

Thank a veteran today for his/her service!