Sunday, March 19, 2006

WWII Notes

Friday night we took Laddie to Kon Tiki, and Amelia met us there. I know she's my daughter and that I'm prejudiced, but she looked so pretty! And she's funny. And tall. Sometimes you take things for granted, and sometimes you pay attention. (Now Erin is also pretty, and smart, and funny, but short like me).

After Tai Chi on Saturday, I went by to check on Laddie. It was pouring rain, so we didn't want to do the grocery store thing or any activity that would mean getting out of the car. He had received a newsletter from his the 493 Bomber Group, and we discovered that the reunion this year will be in Bossier City! How convenient is that?!

I started questioning him about The War ( WWII, of course). In 1941, he graduated from high school and headed to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. On Sept. 28, he turned 18. On Dec. 7, 1941, he was at the theater in Tiger Town (I wonder if it was the one next to the Chimes?) when they stopped the movie, announced the attack on Pearl Harbor, and broadcast President Roosevelt's "day of infamy" speech.

All young men at the time had to take part in military training at college (ROTC?); those who were close to graduating were called up immediately. He and a friend enlisted in the Army Air Force (converted in 1941 from the Air Corps). Shortly thereafter, he was drafted and had to explain to the Navy that he had already signed up for the Air Force. He wanted to fly and thought part of the reason was the closeness of Barksdale Air Force Base.

Now, I'm trying to picture my eighteen-year-old father-- from a tiny, tiny rural town -- leaving home to go to school at LSU in Baton Rouge. To a campus that was probably, even at that time, ten times larger than the town he grew up in. Just the campus. Then hearing of the attack on Pearl Harbor and enlisting. Taking the train from Shreveport to Shepherd Field, Texas for basic training and a battery of tests to determine their aptitude as pilots, navigators, or bombadiers. Those with any engineering training were usually navigators, and Laddie was an engineering major at LSU.

Since it is still cold and rainy and other activities would require getting wet, I think I'll do some more questioning and note-taking today. Laddie never talked much about the war, and I want to see if I can pull more out of him. And wish I'd done so years ago.

*those with an interest in things literary might enjoy
this blog...

3 comments:

  1. Jen, get your dad to talk! My father was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed but he never liked to talk about the war. Now I have so many questions that cannot be answered. My father died 30 years ago when I was too young and too dumb to appreciate his experiences.

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  2. I feels such an important mission - i hope your father will be able to talk about his experiences - it will be invaluable conversation.

    all the best

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  3. 18 years old and fighting in a war. It never ceases to boggle my mind.

    Give your dad a hug for us.

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