Legacy: Stories

Daughters of WWII: Sharing Their Stories

Do you have a story to share about your father or mother's service in World War II? The Daughters of World War II are collecting these stories to share and preserve the legacy of these cherished veterans. Please send us your stories and photos to info@daughtersofww2.org


Stories:

A Letter for A Daughter of World War II

I am the daughter of deceased Army Air Corps Tech Sgt. Ellis Reece Bethany, who served in WW II, ending his wartime experience on Tinian Island in charge of the Propeller Shop. The day before he died in Tidewell Hospice House, Palmetto, FL, the Veteran's Group from Hospice House honored him with a ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, they gave him an opportunity to speak. He recounted a story I had never heard about his experience, and the gathering around his bed listened with respect. The next evening, he passed away peacefully in his sleep. Our family members have always been in awe of my father's service, and as a result, my 2 brothers, 3 of their children, 2 of my children, and 1 of my grandchildren have served in the Navy and/or Army. One of my sons served in Afghanistan and his daughter spent 10 months in Iraq. All are humbled by the dedication and comittment of our WW II veterans. My dad is in the khaki shirt on the back row, 2nd from the left. At the time, he was 24 years old. They were all so youn My dad is in the khaki shirt on the back row, 2nd from the left. At the time, he was 24 years old. They were all so young to be having such big responsibilities of ending a World War on their shoulders. During the last year of the war, my dad was stationed on Tinian and in charge of the Propeller Shop. He was awarded a Bronze Star for that service because ALL of the B-29s that pounded Japan during the final months of the war were able to go and return safely to Tinian and Saipan as a result of the repair work done in that Shop. This included the Enola Gay and Bockscar. Enola Gay's mission to Hiroshima was successfully completed as planned, and the plane safely returned to Tinian, but Bockscar had little fuel left after its mission to Nagasaki on landing at Okinawa because of tactical mistakes. My father had been responsible for alerting Col. Tibbets as to how to synchronize the propellers to conserve fuel for his trip. The weight of the atomic bombs would have made a safe return trip impossible without this modification. Another little known fact is that the planes and crews for the mission to drop the 1st Atomic Bomb were secreted away from the B-29s flying regular missions, on the far side of Tinian, and unknown to the other crews. Col. Tibbets came to see my father to get the information under top secret conditions. - Respectfully written and submitted by E. Diane Lapointe



A Letter from Veteran- Victor Hancock




A Letter from Laura Gilbert Hays

I would like you to have my father's story. His name was Robert Charles Gilbert. He joined the Army in 1940 I think. He was 21. He went to the Philippines and was stationed at an airfield. I believe he was in a battalion of AA. When the Japanese invaded he was caught on Bataan but managed to escape and swam to Corrigedor, thereby missing the Death March. He was held in the Cabanatuan camps until the Hell Ships sailed. Then he was taken to the northern most island of Japan where I believe he worked in a tin mine. He was held 3 and 1/2 years. In that time for whatever reason, he suffered damage to his optic nerve. He never would explain that. Perhaps it was just malnutrition. He normally weighed about 170lb. When the camp was liberated he weighed about 75lb. When he got home, they tried to keep him in an army hospital to treat his malnutrition and shell shock, (we call it PTSD now), but he would not stay and kept escaping and going home. To him it was another prison. Finally his Father went to the hospital and told them they just as well let him stay home. He always had optic nerve damage which made him legally blind and nightmares till the end of his life. He married my Mother in 1946 and they had 4 daughters, and worked as a pretty good handyman in spite of his eyesight. You see, to us WWII was very real. We lived with it every day. My Father passed on in 1990 of lung cancer. During his last years he became more willing to share stories, but mainly just what I have told you. I read a book to him, "The Death March" by Donald Knox and he would say that was how it was, exactly how it was.



Margaret Connor Reppond gives us a riveting account of her life with WWII Solider George William Reppond in her story, "My Life," edited by Norma Nichols of McKinney, Texas. Mrs. Reppond resides in Frisco, Texas with her daughter, Janet Alexander.

I had dated G.W. (George William) Reppond during the time I stayed with Aunt May in Norman. His parents lived across the street from my grandparents and that was in the next block from Aunt May. G.W.’s sister, Jessie Lee, was my best friend, so I was at the Green’s a lot. G.W.’s stepfather was E. C. Green. G.W.’s own father, Jesse Reppond, was killed in 1920 when G. W. was only two years old. Mr. Reppond was killed when he went into Colbert, Oklahoma to buy fresh fruit and nuts for the kid’s Christmas. He was standing up in his wagon driving his team of horses and a car passing him honked startling the horses. They jerked the wagon and Jesse fell out of the wagon. The wagon ran over his head crushing it. He died two days later on Christmas day. G. W.’s mother, Mary, married Elzie Green about 2 or 3 years after G.W.’s father, Jesse Reppond, was killed. G.W. was in CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) camp at Purcell, Oklahoma and could come home every weekend. H e asked me to marry him when I was a sophomore. But I told him I wanted to finish school…which I did! I graduated High School in 1939. In 1940, on October 15th, G.W. went into the Army at Ft. D.A. Russell at Marfa, Texas. Marfa is the county seat of Presidio County located in the high desert of far West Texas, southeast of El Paso, Texas. We started dating again and writing several times a week. Mary Lou, his sister, came with him from Whitesboro to visit a friend in Norman, Oklahoma where I was living. At that time, he was stationed in North Carolina on maneuvers and came home to Whitesboro on a 5-day pass. On October 18, 1941, we were married in the Baptist pastor’s home at Noble, Oklahoma in Cleveland County. He went back to Leesville, Louisiana Army Base (known as Ft. Polk today) and on December 7, 1941, his unit went to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. He phoned and his sister, Ola May, and I went to pick him up because he only had a 24-hour pass. This was the day the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor. We took him back to Ft. Sill where he stayed on alert until he got a 7-day pass for Christmas and he got a ride to Norman with his friend’s parents. Ola May, Jessie, G. W. and I then went to Whitesboro in his Chevy Coupe. When he left Whitesboro he went back to North Carolina and I rode the bus back to Norman. G. W. was sent to Brownwood (Camp Bowie) located in central Texas. G.W. got an apartment in Brownwood. I joined him in March and stayed until April, about one month. I was pregnant and mother and daddy had moved to New Mexico. On my way to New Mexico I stayed with G. W. in Brownwood (he had rented an apartment) for about three months, then went on to Silver City, New Mexico in May, 1942. G. W. left Brownwood for maneuvers in Louisiana. He came back to Brownwood and was there when Janet was born (in Silver City, N.M.) on August 26, 1942. She had an enlarged thymus that was choking her so Dr. Watts, my doctor, sent her to a specialist in El Paso who was out of town. Because of Jan’s condition, the Red Cross sent G. W. to El Paso and we took her to William Beaumont Hospital at Ft. Bliss in El Paso. An Army physician, Dr. Ben Cooley performed the treatments on Janet. Dr. Cooley was originally from Norman and was a personal friend of the McComb family. He lived near the McComb family in Norman and I was so glad to see him!! They did deep x-ray therapy on Janet’s thymus gland to shrink it. Then GW, me and my mom, Viola, went to Silver City, NM by bus with medicine for pyloric spasms (chronic vomiting). She vomited her milk with a strong gush. We had to take her back to El Paso in 4 weeks for a 2nd treatment on her thymus gland. Dad Green sent money to me because he wanted Janet and me to come to Whitesboro for Christmas in 1942. G.W. was in Whitesboro for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I went back to Silver City, New Mexico, where my parents were and got a job at JC Penney. The first U.S. 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion was created while G. W. was at Brownwood. In the spring of 1943, before he went to Ireland, the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion went to Killeen, Texas and raised the flag at Ft. Hood (originally known as Camp Hood). fter that he went to Ft. Nix, New Jersey, for Port of Embarkation and shipped out to Ireland. G.W. went from Dublin, Ireland, to the coast of England. On June 6, 1943, he went in on the 42nd wave to Omaha Beach in France. He was with General George Patton’s 3rd Army. His outfit was 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion and he was commander of a tank. It looked like a tank except it was half-track and half-wheels. He had a crew and they went from Omaha Beach through the hedgerows in France. The cutters had to cut a path through the heavy underbrush that went up the trenches left by Americans in World War I. They fought their way from France to Germany. At places they went on the autobahn which was like our 4 to 6 lane highways. G. W. was in western Germany when they received orders that his unit was going back to Paris, France, for some R&R but when they got to a certain place they turned back and were fighting Germans in the Battle of the Bulge. After that they went back to Saarlautern and fought in that area. The 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion participated in the race across Germany in March 1945. They continued to fight until they were in Austria. They stopped overnight at Linz, Austria, an industrial city on the Danube River near Vienna, Austria. That was June 1945 and the German WWII was over. The Japanese war wasn’t over until August 14, 1945. The reason I know that exact date is because I was working at Hardwick-Etter in Sherman, Texas, making mortar shells for the war and when it was over and the plant closed on that day. G .W. went to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia to wait for a plane to bring him back to the U.S. On his way to the U.S., he flew into Africa and then on to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. He bought a pair of boots in Brazil and kept them until he died. He arrived at Camp Chaffee in Arkansas and was honorably discharged from the Army there. As commander of a tank destroyer, he came home on the point system. He had enough points to bring 4 or 5 men home with him! On July 31, 1945, he rode the train to Whitesboro, Texas. He was home! 818th TANK DESTROYER



BEFORE YOU GO

The elderly parking lot attendant wasn't in a good mood! Neither was Sam Bierstock.. It was around 1 a.m., and Bierstock, a Delray Beach , Fla. eye doctor, business consultant, corporate speaker and musician, was bone tired after appearing at an event. He pulled up in his car, and the parking attendant began to speak. "I took two bullets for this country and look what I'm doing," he said bitterly. At first, Bierstock didn't know what to say to the World War II veteran. But he rolled down his window and told the man, "Really, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you." Then the old soldier began to cry. That really got to me," Bierstock says. Cut to today. Bierstock, 58, and John Melnick, 54, of Pompano Beach - a member of Bierstock's band, Dr. Sam and the Managed Care Band - have written a song inspired by that old soldier in the airport parking lot. The mournful "Before You Go" does more than salute those who fought in WWII. It encourages people to go out of their way to thank the aging warriors before they die. "If we had lost that particular war, our whole way of life would have been shot," says Bierstock, who plays harmonica. "The WW II soldiers are now dying at the rate of about 2,000 every day. I thought we needed to thank them." The song is striking a chord. Within four days of Bierstock placing it on the Web, the song and accompanying photo essay have bounced around nine countries, producing tears and heartfelt thanks from veterans, their sons and daughters and grandchildren. "It made me cry," wrote one veteran's son. Another sent an e-mail saying that only after his father consumed several glasses of wine would he discuss " the unspeakable horrors" he and other soldiers had witnessed in places such as Anzio , Iwo Jima, Bataan and Omaha Beach . "I can never thank them enough," the son wrote. "Thank you for thinking about them." Bierstock and Melnick thought about shipping it off to a professional singer, maybe a Lee Greenwood type, but because time was running out for so many veterans, they decided it was best to release it quickly, for free, on the Web. They've sent the song to Sen. John Mc Cain and others in Washington . Already they have been invited to perform it in Houston for a Veterans Day tribute - this after just a few days on the Web. They hope every veteran in America gets a chance to hear it. GOD BLESS EVERY veteran.....and THANK you to those of you veterans who may receive this!



Original News Clippings

These are copies of the original news clippings that Paul Sine donated to the Daughters of World War II.



Original News Clippings

These are copies of the original news clippings that Paul Sine donated to the Daughters of World War II.



Original News Clippings

These are copies of the original news clippings that Paul Sine donated to the Daughters of World War II.



Original News Clippings

These are copies of the original news clippings that Paul Sine donated to the Daughters of World War II.