“The Roaring 20’s were more than just a fun time. The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity and a break with traditions. Everything seemed to be feasible through modern technology. New technologies, especially automobiles, moving pictures and radio proliferated ‘modernity’ to a large part of the population. Formal decorative frills were shed in favor of practicality in both daily life and architecture. At the same time, jazz and dancing rose in popularity, in opposition to the mood of the specter of World War I. As such, the period is also often referred to as the Jazz Age.” (Copied from Wikipedia)
World War I was over and things changed in America, but not for long. It seems someone is always trying to take over the world. As you know World War II was on the horizon and when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 the United States were force into war. I am not here to discuss all that transpired during WWII. Rather I am here to honor my Dad who fought in that war. It is Veteran’s Day and I cannot think of a better way to honor my children’s grandfather than to honor and thank him for his life and his service to our country.
Dad was a part of the Roaring 20’s. Oh, he was but a child when the change started after WWI. With the draft of WWII knocking on his door, he joined the US Army and was assigned to the 5th Air Force and then to the 312th Bombardment Group stationed in the Philippines. Here was his first deployment under enemy fire. The Roaring 20’s were given their name by the fact that they would fly the Douglas A20 Havoc Attack Bomber. Now I don’t know if you have ever been around one of these planes, but if you have you know that they roar with great volume. Consequently, the Roaring 20’s were born.
Sadly, I never took the time to ask dad about his days in the US Army Air Force. I wish I had so I could tell my children and grand children about them. I did pick up a few stories from him over the years that he would convey in brief conversation. One was a time when his assigned bomber had problems and he couldn’t fly a mission. His commander gave him his plane for the mission (how nice of him). When he returned to base a jeep promptly drove out to pick him up and take him the debriefing room. When the driver saw that it was not the commander, he put it in gear and drove away. Dad never understood why since the jeep was there he couldn’t go ahead and pick him up anyway. Instead he picked no one up. Dad walked from the tarmac to the debriefing as usual.
I remember asking him one time if he had ever been shot. He told me no, the closest he came was a shell about 6 inches behind his seat. He was thankful for that.
I was privileged in 1986 to go to the 312th Bomb Group Reunion in Brownsville, TX. It was a long and tiring drive, but worth every minute. I got to spend hours alone with my Dad. A time I will always cherish. After our arrival we were placed on a bus and driven to the local air field. It was such a special time. Here I am with my Dad, watching him and his war cronies’ fall in love with their plane all over again. You see, the next day there was going to be an air show on this field. The owner of the only known A20G Attack Bomber was going to fly in the show. He heard about the 312th reunion of men who had flown them in WWII and requested they come out and see it the day before. Below are pictures I took of some of them. The pilot flew around the base a couple of times and I heard the boys shouting like they had just come back from a mission.
I watched Dad as he walked around the plane and then walked the steps up to the cockpit. I wondered what he was thinking; what thoughts and memories he must have had about the war, and the missions, and this plane. Foolishly I never asked; one regret I will always have with me.
I have to say I was proud of him that weekend. I knew my Dad had been a special part of ending WWII. I grew in respect for his patriotism to America. He was proud of his country and being in the Roaring 20’s. I honor him on this Veteran’s Day along with all his buddies. Each was special and we owe them so much. They are all gone now, but they left their mark in the history of the United States of America, and in our lives.
At the air show the next day the A20 Havoc crashed and killed the pilot. It was a sad day. I watched his face as the news was given. A deep and solemn regret grew on his face. I know that Dad and the men who were blessed to see this A20G must have thought back to the many times they lost a friend who was shot down over the jungles of the Philippines. This was the only A20G left at the time. It is so hurtful to know someone you were flying next to is now gone. It is that way in every war. Now, I understand there are about 3-4 other A20G’s that have been pulled from the jungles of the Philippines and restored. After the war most were taken on a barge, chopped up and dumped in the Pacific Ocean for the fish to enjoy.
MEMBERS OF THE GREATEST GENERATION
My older brother is a disabled veteran; I am as well. We followed in Dad’s footsteps and served our country with great pride during the Viet Nam Era. And so it is that today, while I specifically honor Dad, I also want to honor all veterans who have sacrificed so much for our safety and our freedom!.
Thank You, Dad, For Your Service ! ! !
Thank you all Veteran’s for your service and sacrifice ! ! !
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Douglas A20G Havoc Attack Bomber
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