Wonder what my friends would say
Those I met along the way. Of course, I cannot. They were the veteran’s — and all are gone today.
We had a common goal. Never, ever, was politics an issue. We were Americans; we were on the same side. They could not conceive, nor would they believe what has happened to our country.
Going way back, Dwight Hunter (west 5 th St.), ran off in 1940 to join the RAF and fight the Battle of Brittan. Later “Movie Tone News” showed him with his Lockeed P-38, in the Pacific. He was an Ace, maybe our first. After the war, he died as a test pilot for Lockeed. At that time, they were developing the F-80 Shooting Star.
In France, Fred Fretheim, our CIA agent and WW2 veteran, lived across the hall from me. This was “cold war” time; nothing was happening except, we – and the Russians, were staring down each other. Fred assured me spies were everywhere. One day Fred happened to mention how he loved Bag Pipe Music. “Why?” “I went ashore on Omaha Beach. On day two, our group – what was left of us — was supposed to meet up with a Scottish Regiment from Gold Beach at a designated point. The Germans had us pinned down and were ‘blowing the hell’ out of us. Finally - finally - and from a distance I heard those Bag Pipes. I will always love Bag Pipes.”
Also, across the hall was an MP Captain. I cannot remember his name. Someone mentioned - “Pork Chop Hill is playing at the movie tonight. Do you want to go?” “No, I did it in person; I don’t want to do it again.”
While in school, in K C Ks., my break — and highlight of my week — was Sunday school. It was a couples class and we were the only ones not of WW2 vintage. I enjoyed them all. Tom Korchak was from Pennsylvania. He happened to meet and marry a girl from Kansas — and followed her home. He had been a P-47 pilot in England. “One day my orders were to fly over to France and shoot anything moving. I first found and extinguished a Volkswagen. Later I saw a train. I lined up with it from behind and started strafing. Of course, my bullets got there before I did. One of the cars exploded and I flew through all the debris. “It cracked my canopy, damaged the engine cowling and really messed up the leading edges of the wings. At least I was still flying. I flew back to England and vowed never to do it that way again.”
Don Quaintance was a Marine. He taught school in Prairie Village. He drove a “half-track” onto the beach at Okinawa. It was hit, on fire — and he bailed out. Suddenly, he remembered the picture of Phyllis, his wife to be, was stuck on the dashboard. He ran back, jumped into the burning half-track to retrieve her picture. He later confessed — “that was not too bright.”
I can’t visit with then any more. I miss them. They were the greatest generation and I wonder what they would say today. We were Americans. We were on the same side.