Saying Good-bye to 2 Special Vets

It’s part of the nature of my project of interviewing some of our nation’s eldest military veterans so I should expect it. With many of them well into their 90s, I have to face the fact that they will all someday be deceased.

Still, it is hard to receive that kind of news.

Recently, I learned that two veterans from my latest book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans, had died.

Davis

Lorraine Hook Davis (1920-2018) was a kind, quiet lady whom I interviewed two years ago in her apartment.

As a college graduate, she automatically became an officer upon joining the Coast Guard. That made her an extraordinary veteran to me because she was

  1. a) female- really rare to find these days,
  2. b) Coast Guard—really hard to find in Indiana!
  3. c) college graduate—it’s amazing she had the funds and determination to attend and graduate from college during the late years of the Great Depression.

She didn’t consider her military service during World War II as any great achievement. My word for her – and every other female who volunteered to serve during that ‘Man’s War’– is plucky.

I don’t know if I would have had the courage to sign up, leave home to live across the country for several years and live as a soldier.

Formal Uniform 25072017

I was thrilled to visit with Lorraine at my book launch party in November 2017. Her appearance belies her age of 97! She signed dozens (maybe hundreds) of copies of books for people and looked happy while doing so.

She just reached her 98th birthday a few weeks ago, leaving a long legacy of military service to be proud of among her family.

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Oren Huffer (1924-2018)

aHuffer Oren- HF

This was one of the quietest, sweetest men I’ve ever met. I thought he was reserved during our interview but as I got to know him I realized that was his way. He never hesitated to tell me about his work with gliders during World War II.

You don’t have to know anything about gliders to imagine how dangerous these things could be with no motor to guide them. Landings were especially hazardous. When I asked him about them, he admitted that they were but looked as though it didn’t faze him. He had never been injured which is quite a miracle, in my book.

After the war, he worked as an educator in the Fort Wayne area, which made him extra-special as I’m from a family of teachers.

Huffer

He also attended the book launch in Nov 2017 which made me very happy. The book launch was designed for the veterans so they were seated around a large room. The public was invited to come and meet them and thank them for their service. If they wanted to purchase a book, the veterans could sign them.

Among the 17 veterans present was Oren, who appears relaxed in this photo. I think he enjoyed the day and I hope he had good memories of it for weeks to come.

Oren and Lorraine were both very special people and I’m honored to have known them. I don’t always hear about the deaths of the men/women I’ve interviewed. Thanks to those of you who notify me with updates.

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Good news!

A few weeks ago Fort Wayne Community Schools (IN), purchased enough copies of my two World War II books to put one in each of their middle/high schools. As this is one of the largest school districts in the state, you can imagine my excitement.

I have worked in a middle school library so I know what kids like to read. I’ve also written 15 children’s books (here is my Amazon page listing).

My books could be understood by students in grades 6 and up. My goal is to promote patriotism among readers – what better age group to learn about patriotism than students!

If your group would like to order 10+ copies, please contact me for information about bulk rates.

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As always, thanks to every veteran reading this for your service. This wife/mother of Air Force airmen appreciates your dedication to our country.

 

 

 

Historic Ceremony Witnessed at Pegasus Bridge –Part 1

Tomorrow is our nation’s birthday. I’m so proud to be part of America and it’s glorious history and fantastic citizens. We’re not perfect but I’d still rather live here than anywhere else. Celebrate by thanking a vet for his/her service!

This photo was taken of a young girl awaiting arrival of Honor Flight of Northeast IN to the airport so she could thank the 85 WWII vets for their service!

2 flags in girls hair

The rest of this post is about an event from our recent WWII trip to Europe.

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Pegasus Bridge.

The name meant nothing to me before our fantastic 2 week trip to Europe in early June. Now it is the highlight of our trip and I want to learn everything about it!

I plan to watch the American movie, The Longest Day, which tells about several facets of D-Day. I’ve also checked out several books from my library on the topic.

Here is a little background about Pegasus Bridge and how it figured at D-Day:

Pegasus curr br boat

This little bridge in Normandy France was part of the D-Day invasion in the early hours of June 6, 1944. It was undertaken by the British and called Operation Tonga.

British glider crews were instructed to land at their target—beside the Caen Canal close to the Juno/ Sword beaches that would be invaded in less than six hours.

Could the British glider crews land safely (gliders were notorious for ‘crash-landings’!), do a surprise attack on the Germans guarding the bridge and secure it so Allied troops could use it to push into France?

Miraculously, they did all of that! Not to minimize those who lost their lives and were injured in the least, I’ll mention that we checked out the respectful memorials that are placed where the gliders would have landed in honor of those men who sacrificed their lives for this endeavor.

Pegasus (14)

The bridge was nicknamed ‘Pegasus’ for the patch with a winged horse that the British troops wore who secured the bridge.

When our motor coach pulled up to the current Pegasus Bridge (the original has been replaced but is still on site for viewing), the signal was on for us to halt. The cantilever bridge was in the process of preparing to rise. A boat was needing to go through.

Since our bus could not move, our guide had us disembark the bus to visit the museum on the other side of the canal before the bridge was completely inaccessible.

Bailey bridge

We enjoyed seeing a beautiful, modern museum, a Bailey Bridge (above, a US design that could be easily assembled by troops for hauling men and equipment).

aPegasus glider

The replica of the gliders used for the Operation Tonga was much bigger than I expected.

When we started to walk back to the bus, we were hindered by a great crowd of people. It was a Bank Holiday and hundreds of people had assembled for some outdoor event to honor the Pegasus Bridge.

aPegasus cabs-best

I regretted that we could not stay to watch, especially when we saw dozens of black London taxi cabs pulling up to the curb of the museum. It turned out there were 90 cabs—they made an impressive long line that stretched for what looked like miles.

‘Must be some big officials in them’, I thought.

There were special people inside each cab!

Someone told us that an organization called the London Taxi Benevolent Association for the War Disabled had organized the event to pick up 90 British World War II veterans in London, bring them across the English Channel on a ferry and transport them to Pegasus Bridge for the ceremony.

Whoa!

Veterans are the reason I got interested in World War II in the first place.

As respectfully as I could manage in my excitement, I leaned inside 1 cab and told the driver I was an American and would it be ok if I told the veteran in the back seat thanks for his service?

The driver said sure and then I proceeded to tell them thank you. I did this for five cabs, then a guilty conscience told me I had to get back to the bus!

What happened next was the cherry on top of the cake!

Since this post is already pretty long, I’ll save that story for the next post! Stay tuned!