World War II

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There is a group of veterans that meets for breakfast at Denny’s each Monday at 7:30 am. To qualify for joining this breakfast group which is called “Been Shot At” or BSA, you need to have been shot at in a combat situation. Almost the entire group is made up of pilots and most from the Kore…

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Morris A. Maddox of Bryan spent 18 months in the “tree army” before he was drafted into the Army during World War II and that time of service helped him in many ways in the “real army.”

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Luther Joseph McGee, or “L.J.” as he is known by all of his family and friends, has been in the bookkeeping and income tax service business in Bryan since 1950. During World War II, he was involved in the code breaking business for the Navy as a member of Admiral Calvin Cobb’s staff aboard t…

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Jose Pernia of College Station is a veteran of WWII but it was not until 1996 that he became a U.S. citizen. His story began in his native country of Venezuela on July 25, 1923 in La Victoria.

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Most often when someone was drafted into the military, their background mattered little as the military would train you for what its needs were. In the case of Billie E. Howard of Calvert, he continued his pre-war job in the Army. He was a railroad man before the war and that is what he cont…

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Henry J. Piwonka, now 90 years old, has seen and experienced a lot during his lifetime. But one experience that will forever remain fresh in his memory is his time of service during World War II.

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Everyone has been scared at one time or another, but there are situations where you can be so scared that you can’t physically move. That is the kind of scared Jesse “J.D.” Robertson encountered his first day of combat.Robertson, one of six children, was born and raised on a corn and cotton …

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Melvin C. “Mel” Schroeder has been a professor most of his working life and has tested the knowledge and abilities of his students many times. He always wanted them to pass the tests based on their knowledge, without cheating. But, he had to cheat on an eye test in order to serve his country…

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At just about any Texas A&M athletic function, chances are you will see John Atterbury and his wife, Josie. There aren't many Aggies as loyal or supportive as Atterbury. He will be the first to tell you that A&M affected his life in a significant way, but he will also tell you that h…

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When Raymond “Ray” Valigura, now of Bryan, left his family and farm near Caldwell in 1943 to enter the Army, he thought he was leaving his family behind. What he came to realize over the next 42 months was that the men of the 86th Blackhawk Division of General Patton’s 3rd Army, would also b…

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At 89 years of age, C.C. “Son” Vick would expect to be called “Pop.” But when he was 28, he was called "Pop" because he was the oldest crew member of his B-24 bomber. “The pilot and co-pilot were both 18 years old when we started flying together on our bombing missions. You would be surprise…

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After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, America was shocked, saddened, and the morale of the country was low. Something was needed to lift the spirits of the American people.

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The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, along with its escorting task force of three heavy cruisers and six destroyers, were delayed in their return to Hawaii from Wake Island. On the way back, they were caught in a huge storm and were overdue by 24 hours. The Enterprise had launched its planes…

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We are taught that we are our brother's keeper, but for brothers Jules and George Jacquin, that idea had a special meaning during World War II.Jules Jacquin, now of College Station, was born and grew up in El Paso, Texas. Although his brother George was a year older, the brothers arranged to…

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Fourteen days is not a long time, especially as you get older. In the spring of 1945 Jesse Heine, now of Robertson County, spent 14 of the longest days of his life in no-man’s land between the German and American lines. A time spent trying to survive being shelled both armies. A time he thou…

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As you drive north out of Franklin on Highway 79 you pass the old Franklin High football field. That field was the scene of many great battles and the site of many victories for legendary Coach Joe Hedrick and the Franklin Lions. But the greatest battle of Joe Hedrick’s life occurred in 1945…

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Victoria E. (Klenk) Schaeler, now of Bryan, grew up in the picturesque town of Peoria, Illinois in the 1930s. Whenever she goes back to visit, the only familiar structure left now is the old courthouse. In December 1941, Schaeler worked as a secretary for Standard Oil in Illinois.“When I arr…

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One of television’s most popular mini-series is the World War II epic “Band of Brothers." Richard “Dick” Davison, a retired professor of chemical engineering from A&M, may write a book about his experience in World War II, except he plans to call it “A Band of Strangers.”“When I entered …

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Allen E. “Bud” Denton’s father was a significant influence in his life. His father was a coal mine lawyer in Kentucky, where Bud was born, and a lawyer with the Attorney General’s office in Washington, D.C., where he spent his younger years. The family eventually moved to Texas where he was …

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Frances Gough can lay claim to having nursed more sick Aggies than any other person in history, and few, if any, would dispute her claim.From 1964 to her retirement in 1995, she served as a nurse at the A&M Student Health Center. But, before nursing Aggies at A&M, she cared for many …

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A lot of people have used political influence to avoid military service, but very few have used political influence to join the military. Harold McCullough was such an exception.In 1940 McCullough, a 17-year-old graduate of Temple High, wanted to fly for the U.S. Army Air Corps. Their rules …

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Ivo D. Junek of Bryan, formerly of Snook, was an artillery gunner during World War II, but his only experience as a pilot almost cost him and several others flying with him their lives.

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A lot of people travel to Italy and say it is the best place to visit in Europe. James G. Rosier Sr. of Bryan was able to take a walking tour of Italy. The only problem was, he had to fight Germans on that walking tour, all the way from Naples to Brenner Pass in the Alps. According to Rosier…

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Floyd Barnes of Bryan wears proudly a cap that proclaims that he is a World War II Veteran of the Navy’s Amphibious Forces. As recalled by Mr. Barnes, “I was born and raised in the Tabor Community of Brazos County on May 23, 1926 and I just turned 90 years of age. I guess I will die in Brazo…

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At Lamar Haines’s age, a lot of men wear hearing aids, but he has been wearing his for most of his life. They are the permanent reminder of his role as an artillery man in World War II.After graduating form Bryan High in 1940, he enrolled at Texas A&M and became a member of the Field Art…

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Paul Ybarra of Navasota is a kind, friendly man who meets everyone with a smile. But when recounting some of his experiences during World War II, his smiling eyes water and his chin trembles. These experiences, though more than 60 years past, still evoke a strong emotional response.Life for …

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Many combat veterans have memories, both good and bad, that surface from time to time. Howard Caillouet of the Whitehall Community of Grimes County has had a constant reminder for nearly 66 years--his right hand has limited use because of wounds suffered in Okinawa in 1945.

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Lloyd Whitmire was a country boy from Madisonville who never expected to leave the family farm, much less be a  world traveler. But a world traveler he became. His travels were over in such places as Romania, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Germany, Yugoslovakia,…

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Oda L. Pate of Kurten has a lot of souvenirs from World War II and with each there is a story. Very interesting stories. The souvenirs he doesn’t have are two medals that he should have received, Purple Hearts. But as he stated during the interview, “I’m just glad I made it home. I was scare…

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Elton Ford, now of College Station, was and still is a “big guy.” Growing up in Taft, Texas, all the kids called him “Big-Un” and when he attended college his nickname became “Ox.” During his service aboard the destroyer USS Charrette, he and his shipmates earned another nickname, “Jap Catch…

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Fred Rennels Jr. of Bryan had always thought of himself as a lucky guy. But in 1942 ,after his three tentmates were the first pilots killed in his P-38 photo recon squadron, his fellow pilots thought him too unlucky to room with.“Fortunately, one of the guys was also from Texas and said he p…

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William “Bill” Woodings, now of Bryan, was a native of Verona, Pennsylvania was attending college at the University of Pittsburgh when the war began.“I enlisted in the Army Air Cadet program in January of 1942. My friends said I was crazy to do that and suggested I should just wait for the d…

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As a young man, working on his parents farm in the Durango community near Lott, J.W. "Jack" Currie would watch the planes that flew over, vowing that one day he would fly one. And fly he did."After I graduated from Lott school in 1939, I joined the Army Air Corps so I could be near the actio…

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When Danville “Dan” Chadburne turned 18 in December 1942, he knew he wanted to be a Marine. So much so, that he had an operation so he could pass the physical exam required by the Marines.“When I volunteered, I couldn’t pass the physical so I had an operation so I could get in. They gave me …

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We have all seen a lot of Aggie rings, but you will never see one smoother than the one worn by Joseph R. “Joe” Clark, class of ’44 and now of Bryan. It still has some identifying marks, but you have to look close.

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For most who enter the military, their training had little or nothing to do with their careers after their service. But for Lewis B. Porter Jr. of Snook, his training for World War II became his lifelong vocation and career. Porter was born on January 23, 1924, and will soon turn 87. He didn…

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A lot of veterans brought back their memories from World War II, but Paul Ponzio brought that and music when he came home from the war in Europe.“I grew up on a farm on Reliance Road near where the winery is now. My dad raised cotton, corn and kids. It was there that I learned to play the vi…

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In 1940, Lawrence A. Johnson decided he wanted to leave the family tobacco farm in Smithfield, North Carolina, and join the Army Air Corps. “I enlisted on October 15, 1940, and was sent to Jefferson Davis Barracks, Missouri for basic training. We drilled in our civilian clothes for about a w…

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Sam Cook of Navasota was married for 57 years before his wife died and during his marriage he had to perform husbandly chores many many times.  One thing he never minded doing was taking out the trash because one time, it was what saved his life.Cook grew up in Titus County and graduated fro…

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How and where you meet people that are going to be significant in your life sometimes goes beyond your ability to imagine. When Yolanda Frisch was growing up in Ashtabula, Ohio, she never would have dreamed that the man she would one day marry she would meet halfway around the world in the m…

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William J. “Bill” Clark of College Station is a U.S. veteran who served in two wars and two branches of the military. He was a Marine private in World War II and an Air Force lieutenant during the Korean War. When asked about the difference for him, he stated, “Being an officer is better tha…

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She is a country girl and proud of that fact. Fraulein “Flo” Sims was born and raised in College Station, Texas in the 1920s. In 1942, her older brother enlisted in the Army. She soon followed her oldest brother’s lead and enlisted in the Womens Army Corp, or WAC.“When I got out of school I …

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Vaughn Manning always wanted to fly. After he graduated from Lampassas High School and was drafted in 1943, he took and passed the flight exam and started flight school. “I was soon flying B-25s with only 70 hours of flight time. The war was on and pilots were needed, no matter how inexperie…

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There are a lot of “Good Ags” around our community, but there are probably none more loyal or a “Greater Ag” than Keith Langford.“I was born on the A&M campus. Our home stood where the third deck of the east side of Kyle Field now stands. My father was the dean of the architecture school…

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When the Class of ‘69 arrived on the A&M Campus in the fall of 1965, we were given a “campusology book” that was filled with things that we, as “fish”, needed to know and recite to any upperclassmen who asked. One important athletic and historical question was: “Who was the first Aggie t…

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