MG John Lacy

John was enrolled in the National Youth Administration (NYA) Program at Warrensburg State Teachers College (Central Missouri University today), Warrensburg, Missouri, when WW II started. He attended college 4 hours a day and worked in a rock quarry 4 hours a day. In 1942 he volunteered for the draft at Kansas City, Kansas, and was selected for flight training. There were 200 young men in his group that were tested for aptitude and IQ. Only 40 of them passed that phase, and they went to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for a physical exam, which 20 passed. From there, they were sent to basic training for about 6 weeks at Jefferson Barracks near St Louis, Missouri.

Basic was followed by almost two years of flight training, beginning with College Training Detachment (CTD) at Southern Illinois-Normal for 3 months. Then they went to Davis Field at Muskogee, Oklahoma, for Primary Training (PT) in a PT-19; then to El Reno, Oklahoma, for Basic Training (BT) in a BT-13; then to Moore Field at Moore,Texas, for Advanced Training (AT) in AT-6; then Beechcraft Twin-Engine Bombardier Training in Texas; then to Walla Walla, Washington, for transition training to a B-24, with four engines.

With the training complete, Second Lieutenant Lacy headed for the South Pacific to Noemfoor Air Base near New Guinea. There he was assigned to the 303rd Squadron, 307th Bomber Group, which he remained with for his tour. While stationed there, he flew 8 to 10 B-24 Bomber missions before being moved to Morati Air Base, where he flew the remainder of 39 missions to complete his tour, based on a point system, and returned to the United States. All of these missions lasted for 10 to 12 hours and were exclusively over water, which he indicated was a little daunting when he first got to Noemfoor.

John related several amazing stories about some of his missions, and the first story was regarding his second mission. As they were approaching the target area, they were intercepted by Japanese fighter planes, and after they dropped their bombs, they were again attacked by these planes. His tail gunner was killed, two crew members were wounded, and the bomber was shot up. They made it back but had to land at an "emergency base." He was more than a little worried about his future but, fortunately, that was by far his worst mission. Another mission had to do with what happened when they got back to their base after a mission to destroy Japanese oil tankers off of Borneo. There were severe thunderstorms over a wide area, and they couldn't find their primary base or much else. After circling for some time, they spotted a B-25, a smaller bomber. They contacted it by radio and followed it to its fighter air base, landing with dangerously low fuel levels. The next day, they were given enough fuel to get back to their base. At that time, they lived in squad tents and because they didn't return, they were assumed to be lost. Their tent had been cleaned out, to include John's better-than-average rubber inflatable mattress. However, they did get all of their belongings back later. On another mission in the Borneo area, they spotted a 'sea marker' that turns a large area of the ocean green. They circled to check the situation and spotted 4 to 6 men in a raft who had obviously been there for quite some time. They dropped their plane's emergency equipment and saw the downed men swim to it. He also notified sea rescue of their location. John never knew who they were, but he did get word that the sea rescue sailors found them. Early in the War, the bombers would fly in formation all the way to the target and back. However, it was discovered that this consumed extra fuel because planes had to adjust their speed a lot to stay in formation. So then they individually and rendezvoused at a predesignated location. On one mission, John got to that location but couldn't find the rest of the squadron. Fortunately, they appeared before he used up too much fuel. All in all, it appears that flying for hours over blue water was a harrowing experience at best.

John didn't have a girl friend at that time, so there was no stress in that regard. He did write his mother every day, but she never talked about how his situation affected her. He added that he was certain that she was very anxious.

After WW II was over, he joined the air reserve and served a total of more than 42 years before he retired in 1983. During his career, he flew C-46s, C-119s, B-124s and C-130s. His missions were for training, in support of Korea and, out of the Philippines, in support of Vietnam.

A true American hero.


COL Vaughn Emerson

Vaughn graduated high school at 16 in Lewistown, Missouri (near Hannibal) in 1941. He was trained as a machinist in the National Youth Administration (NYA) Program and was working at Boeing Aircraft in Seattle, Washington in 1942. Boeing offered Vaughn a deferment so he could continue to build airplanes. However, he chose to be drafted when his number came up and was inducted at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri.

He went to basic training at Lincoln Air Force Base in Nebraska and subsequently into the Army Specialized Training (AST) Program to be a mechanical engineer. He was sent to the University of Wyoming at Laramie for one semester. That program was canceled and he was sent to Camp Robinson, Arkansas, and the 66th Infantry Division. His next stop was Camp Rucker, Alabama, where he was trained as a 60mm mortar-man. From Camp Rucker, it was off to Fort Meade, Maryland, and on to England via Boston, Massachusetts, on the USS Mariposa, where he arrived July 1944. Vaughn joined Charley Company, 1st Battalion, 379th Infantry Regiment, 95th Infantry Division, in France in late September, where he remained until VE-Day. He remembers that the World Series was in progress when he got to the 95th.

The 95th Division executed three major river crossings: the Mosel, the Saar and the Rhine. Vaughn was in action for all three. He started as a Private First Class (PFC) mortar-man and ended the War as a Sergeant E-4 Squad Leader in Charley Company's Weapons Platoon. The Mosel was crossed in order to attack Metz and its many fortresses. The 95th attacked Fortress Moscow Farms in November. During the action, he was tasked to escort 12 prisoners to the rear in a 1 1/2 ton truck. He recalls thinking that any one of those burly, powerfully built Germans could have choked the life out of his 125-pound body. He related that, in fact, they were ready to quit and had no interest in more action. During the action at Metz, his unit was cut off for about a week and had supplies air-dropped to them from Piper Cub airplanes. The Germans were shooting at them, so they made some of the prisoners go get the dropped supplies. Vaughn's not sure that this met the rule of combat, but... . While the battle raged around Metz, Vaughn's unit got a chance to go to the rear briefly to rest and refit. Based on his experiences with the prisoners, he led the way back.

After the brief rest, they charged back for the attack on Fort Jean-Arc. Metz fell in late November and the 95th pushed 30 or 35 miles ahead and executed a river crossing of the Saar, which allowed them to surprise the Germans who were supposed to blow up the bridge. Vaughn stated that he could never forget that his Battalion Commander, LTC Philben, bayoneted two Germans to prevent them from blowing the bridge and then had to shoot one to assure success. The 95th arrived at the town of Ensdorf on the Siegfried Line in late December. Shortly, they were moved by truck to Bastogne where they joined the 9th Army in a holding position. Vaughn, along with many GIs, spent a lot of time with cold, wet feet, and he had to be evacuated to a hospital in Belgium where he was treated for a month and half for his frozen feet. Vaughn returned to his unit in early March, just in time to join the crossing of the Rhine and movement into Germany. They advanced to Lippe, where they were still being strafed on VE-Day at the town of Werne.

The 95th was transferred to Fort Shelby, Mississippi, where he was discharged in November 1945. After two years out of the Army, he was recruited and returned to complete Officer Candidate School (OCS) and retired as a Colonel in 1971.

Vaughn related four much lighter side events that occurred during this period of time. First, as they were getting ready to move the river crossing boats down to the Saar River, they notice a huge cabbage garden which they used to their advantage. The boats were set on the cabbages, which acted as rollers and made the job of getting the boats to the river much easier. Second, since Vaughn was in the 95th Division, when his mother learned that his brother was in the 96th Division, she thought they would just be "next door" to each other and could visit. Third, as the troops were marching along one day, Vaughn notice that the barrel of fellow soldier Arthur German's Thompson Submachine Gun had fallen off. Vaughn picked it up and got it back to him but never knew just why it fell off. Later, Arthur wrote a letter thanking him for recovering the barrel. Finally, on his way through Fort Meade, he dated a girl for a couple of weeks. Four years later, Vaughn and his wife were walking hand in hand down a street in Baltimore, and a girl came up behind them and put her hands over his eyes. It was the girl he had dated briefly 8 years earlier. He stated that his wife had a couple of pointed questions about what had happened.

A hero from PFC to Colonel.



LTC John Carroll

John was living with his Grandmother and had been attending Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri, when the War started. His draft number was coming up, so in December 1942, he enlisted at Kansas City, Kansas, in the Army Air Corps. This started a 20-month training period that began at Jefferson Barracks in St Louis, Missouri, in February 1943. While at Jefferson Barracks, he contracted spinal meningitis, which delayed his training by about 45 days. From there, he went to Indiana Central College, Indianapolis, Indiana, for 3 months for training on the Aeronca single-engine plane. Next, he went to San Antonio, Texas, for three months of Preliminary Training (PT) on a PT-19; then to Coleman, Texas, for more training; then to Brady, Texas, for Basic Training (BT) on BT-13s and BT-15s,twin enegine; and then to Altus, Oklahoma, for Advanced Training (AT) on an AT-9. When that was completed, John was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in July 1944. Then it was off to Alliance, Nebraska, for C-47 Troop Carrier flight training as a first pilot and to Malden, Missouri, for Glider Pick-up Training.

He picked up a new C-47 Transport at Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Indiana, tail number 43-49110, and started on a 15-day odyssey to Naples, Italy. When he left there, his next stop was Porto Rico; then to British Guiana; then Belem, Brazil, where he spent a day; next to the Ascension Islands in the Pacific; to British Guinea on the African Coast; then up to Dakar, Senegal; French Morocco; Tunis; and finally Naples, Italy. Upon arrival, they took his plane for another mission and assigned him to be a co-pilot. He was assigned to the 62nd Troop Carrier Group, 4th Troop Carrier Squadron, in November 1944.

He made his first troop airborne drop in November 1944, when his Squadron hauled British troops. Once on assignment, John was flying something almost every day: troops, supplies, wounded troops from 10 to 12 different bases throughout Southern Europe. He flew missions to Cairo, and on one occasion, he got to stay long enough to see the Pyramids, buy whisky and cigarettes, and make it back for Christmas. He didn't accumulate enough mission points to rotate and stated that his missions really never came under fire. He did have one glider drop and moved a P-47's Squadron to France in support of the efforts at Bastogne as part of the Battle of the Bulge counterattack.

One of his most unique missions was being assigned to be a spy at PT Training until the end of the War. This required him to be on the lookout for certain types of activities regarding his fellow officers and men. He stated that he never had anything to report. When he was training at Malden, he and a couple of other guys bought an old Chrysler so they could do things like go dancing. When he was training in Texas, there was a steak house off base where you could get a 24-ounce steak for $1.00 if you could eat it all, and apparently he did! While he was in Italy flying assorted missions, he got time now and then to go see the "sights." That included him and few guys going to Rome and the Vatican.

When V-E Day came, he was a First Lieutenant, still flying support missions, hauling troops, supplies, and the wounded. His last year was spent on various assignments, including flying a G-2 General around who was involved in the Nuremberg Trials, flying diplomats from various countries, and flying for the European Transport Service out of Berlin. He returned to the United States on a troop carrier in December 1946 as a Captain. He brought home a few souvenirs, such as a German P-38 pistol, a Nazi Flag, and a 1945 Bill Malden Cartoon Book. He remained in the Air Force Reserves until he retired in 1982 as a Lieutenant Colonel.

John wrote to and received letters from his mother throughout his service and stated that she never revealed if she worried about him or not. But he was sure that she did!

A real life hero.

 


LTC David Hunt

Dave graduated from the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, High School in May 1941. After an extensive interview and testing process, he started working for Ohio Bell Telephone in Akron, Ohio. In early 1942 he began the process for becoming an Army Air Force Pilot at the Cleveland Aviation Cadet Center. This process included mental and physical tests that weeded out a significant number of the candidates. On 12 May 1942, he was sworn in and proceeded to Fort Hayes, Ohio, in September 1942.

He mentioned that there were three air training commands in the United States: Southeast, Central, and Western. Dave was in the Southeastern Command and began his training in Nashville, Tennessee, where the Cadets were administered more mental and physical tests for classification. Next was Maxwell Army Air Force Base at Montgomery, Alabama, for 8 weeks of "tough" courses in subjects like math and science. From there he went to Avon Park, Florida, for Primary Training (PT) in PT-17 Stearman double-winged airplanes for 2 months. Next to Cochran Field, Macon, Georgia for Basic Training (BT) in a BT-13 for 2 months, and on to Maryanne Army Air Force Base, Florida, for Advanced Training (AT) in a T-6 for 2 months. Dave was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and received his wings on 28 July 1943.

Dave was selected to become a flight trainer and transferred to Randolph Field, San Antonio, Texas, for 4 weeks of training at the Central Instructor School before being transferred to Malden, Missouri, to train new pilots. He was stationed there for 10 months before being sent to Courtland Field near Decatur, Alabama, where he was an instructor for 4 months. His next stop was Hendricks Field, Sebring, Florida, to train on B-17 Bombers. Next was Rapid City, South Dakota, in March 1945 for Phase Training in preparation for shipment to Europe.

By the time Dave got to England, he was a First Lieutenant and was assigned to the 750th Bomber Squadron, 457th Bomber Group. With his 1300 hours of flight time and his flight trainer experience, he was trained to be a Lead Crew Pilot. That plane had the only radar in the squadron and needed to be trained. Dave stated that among other training missions, he dropped dummy bombs on rocks in the ocean. By the time he had received his flight training, been a flight trainer, and completed the Lead Crew Training, it was V-E Day. His five missions in Europe were after V-E Day, when he flew to Lentz, Austria, to return French Prisoners of War to Paris.

Shortly, he flew back to Bradley Field, Connecticut, via Iceland; Goose Bay, Labrador; and Bangor, Maine, where he was given 30 days rest and recuperation (R&R). From there, it was off to the 8th Army Air Force at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and from there to Peterson Field, Colorado, to instruct B-17 pilots on the new Radar System. On V-J Day, Dave had 1600 hours flight time. He was processed out at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, in October 1945. He joined the reserves and was active until 1971 and retired in 1982.

Dave wrote letters to his mother throughout the war but wasn't sure just how his family was affected. He had a few girlfriends along the training "route" and wrote to them for a while, but with time they sort of faded away.

There were several heartwarming events during his time in the Army Air Force. The first had to do with when he was stationed at Malden. He and a buddy would go to Cape Girardeau on the weekends and frequently went across the Mississippi River to Cairo, Illinois, where there lots of clubs. One in particular was the "Colony Club" which Dave said was on par with clubs in Las Vegas. One night when he was there with the buddy and was talking to some pilot trainees, he noticed a young lady trying unsuccessfully to get a pack of cigarettes out of a machine. He excused himself and went to help her. She wanted "Lucky Strikes," but neither of them could get them out, so he offered her his pack that still was about 2/3 full. Then he invited her to join him for drink, but she told him that she was on a date in the dancing area in the next room. Dave insisted on her having the drink, and she agreed to join him. He bought her a "Tom Collins" but said she really didn't drink any of it. However, he did get her name, address, and phone number. He and his buddy got back to Cape Girardeau around 2:00 AM and had to catch a bus back to the base at 6:00 AM. They decided it was worth going to bed and decided to drink some coffee. They couldn't find any, so he called the girl, Mickey, and with a good deal of smooth talking convinced her to make them a pot of coffee. When they got there, she was in her robe and not very happy. However, Dave convinced her to go on a date with him the next weekend and to line up a girl for his buddy that he had met earlier. Dave and Mickey later had four daughters, one born while he was in Europe.

Another story concerned his time at Maxwell Field in 1942. They had "tea dances" every Sunday afternoon, and as it turned out they had a great band to play for those. Dave said there were a lot of great musicians in the military, and they just happened to have an even greater band leader, because the great Glenn Miller was stationed there and led the band. So every Sunday afternoon, Dave got to dance to Glenn Miller music. The last story had to do with his arrival in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, where Mickey was living with her sister. Dave had been getting lots of letters with her return address on them, so he got a cab and went to that address. A lady answered the door and advised him that no such person lived there. This left him confused to say the least. The cab was still there, so they went back to town and pondered the situation. After a while, he decided to go back to the same address. This time the lady was a little friendlier and told him she had a forwarding address. It seems the sisters had a disagreement with the landlady and had moved. When Dave got to the new address, Mickey was just arriving home but had not received the letter advising of his coming.


CPT Edward Janosik

Ed was a farm kid who graduated from Southeast Missouri State College, Cape Girardeau, in 1939 and was teaching social studies at Kennett, Missouri, when WW II started. He enlisted in Company G, 140th Infantry Regiment, National Guard, in early December 1940. He was called to active duty at Camp Robinson, near Little Rock Arkansas, in December 1940.

After his initial training, he was transferred to the West Coast near Monterey, California. His unit's mission was to guard bridges, gas valves, and tunnels against sabotage. In February 1942 he was sent to Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and 3 months later was commissioned a Second Lieutenant when his Class 14 graduated. He was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and the 9th Infantry Division that was training for the invasion of North Africa. He was assigned to Company G, 47th Infantry Regiment, and they trained until late October 1942. They were moved to Newport News, Virginia, and boarded the USS Dorothy L. Dix for transit to North Africa. They landed on 7 November 1942 on a "four-barge-wide" beach near Safi, Morocco, and were, fortunately, not opposed. Since there was no opposition, they completed more training in basic combat maneuvers.

In early 1943 they started a movement from Oran to Algiers in Algeria. For 10 days they would walk 15 miles and then ride 30 miles. At about the same time, General Rommel broke through Kasserine Pass, Tunisia. To block Rommel's advance, the 1st US Infantry was deployed on the north and the 9th US Infantry was deployed on the south near El Guettar. Just before the battle, the now First Lieutenant Janosik was elevated to Company Commander with virtually no leadership experience, because the previous commander was elevated to Battalion Staff. For some reason Ed never knew, the Battalion moved out in a column with the Battalion Commander, his staff, three Company Commanders, and Company E in the lead. The Germans opened up with artillery and mortars and isolated that group. They were quickly captured and Company G was pretty much on its own. As the shells continued to rain down, one of Ed's troops was killed and no one seemed to be coming from the rear to pick up the body. He decided to run back to the aid station area to see what the problem was. Very quickly, he started "playing tag with a mortar" and lost, when a piece of shrapnel tore out a few inches of the tibia. WAR OVER FOR ED!!

His first stop was the Oran Base Hospital where he was repaired, and a cast was put on his leg that would remain for several months. In April he boarded a hospital ship for the United States. When the ship was approaching New York City, they had to anchor offshore for 3 days since the port was consumed with embarking the 82nd Airborne Division. When they arrived at port in early May 1943, the patients debarked according to the extent of their injuries, going from the least to worst injured. Ed stated that he thought he was the last one off the ship. He was transferred to Valley Forge General Hospital in Pennsylvania where he remained until November 1943. He was briefly stationed at Camp Craft, South Carolina, and Fort Meade, Maryland, and spent time at Walter Reed Army Hospital for medical evaluation. In July 1945 he was assigned to the Military District, Washington, DC. There he became the Voting Officer for the Military District and was promoted to Captain in early 1945. He was discharged from the Army in December 1946.

That was the end of Ed's military service because of his wound. He earned Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Pennsylvania under the GI Bill and taught at the university level for 36 years.

Now for a "true romance" story. When Ed arrived at Valley Forge, he asked a hospital orderly to find his duffel bag. He had a good bottle of Scotch in it and wanted to have a drink. When the duffel bag was delivered, the Scotch was, miraculously, still there. However, when his "night-nurse" was tucking him in, she spied the Scotch and took it away. She told him that she didn't want him to get drunk and fall out of bed. Well...you might think that is the end of the story, but you would be wrong. Ed began a whirlwind courtship of the night-nurse and asked her to marry him 3 weeks later. They were married on 10 August 1943, but that is still not the end of the story. At the wedding, his ushers were fellow patients: One of them, from Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, had a "pepper-face" from shrapnel, and the other one was a Mormon from Utah with his arm in a airplane sling. Ed was on crutches.

A combat hero and a real Don Juan.