Friday, April 16, 2010
My father is standing, back row far left, hand in pocket, pilot, 2 Lt. Lewis S Ball, standing at the far right, Eugene de Palma, bombadier and Flight Officer; and Raymond Pachucki, front row 2nd on the left, radio operator. The other men are F/O Allyn A Pierce Harris Co., TX; F/O Allen Cantor Wayne Co, MI; Sgt. David R. Hackney Milwaukee Co. WI; Sgt. John P. Flynn NewYork Co, NY; Cpl. Calvin J. Arent Berrien Co, MI; Sgt. Charles V. Brewer ; Sgt. Theodore Hirsch Berrien Co., MI. Believe me I have searched and searched to find any trace of remaining families, etc.
This fatal flight would have been nearly the last flight before this crew would have shipped to England for the war effort. Although I have all the names of the men on this flight, from the accident reports and records I have obtained in my search for information over the years. I can match only three to the men in the photo. Just months ago I was contacted by the nephew of Eugene de Palma, bombardier and matched that name and face. Three years ago I was contacted by the niece of Raymond Pahucki and identified him in the photo.
I have written about my father other places on this blog, explaining how I never knew him. (See my sidebar for the blog posts in the heading "Somethings about my Father".) He was a pilot in the US Army Air Corp and he and his entire crew disappeared on a flight that should have but never returned from Nassau, Bahamas to Charleston, SC. June 20, 1944, never a trace found of the plane or crew. I came to earth in November and he left that June, although he knew of my (or someone’s imminence).
I am one of what were 185,000appx. USA war orphans, so designated as "orphans" by our government, those of us who lost our fathers in World War II. I belong to an organization known as the American World War II Orphans Network (AWON) and I have a tribute to my father on their website. If you want to read more you can access that at http://www.awon.org/awball.html It was not until after 2004 and my increased activity in searching for and finding information that I began to really talk abou my dad. All my years growing up there was no discussion; I thought my family was wierd but I learned that was the way of that generation, silence, all too frequently. One of my AWON colleagues has written a poem, "The Wall of Silence" which describes those feelings. I hold deep gratitude to AWON for uniting me with others who clearly understood how different we were and for removing that reluctance to mention. Even today sometimes people's eyes glaze over, they don't want to hear nor to listen, but I think Sepia Readers might be interested in just a sliver of this history.
Lewis (Lou) and my mother, Helen Pauline Konesky married at Maxwell Field, AL June 12, 1943; this is their wedding picture. This was to the consternation of his mother, my Grandmother Anna Ball who was adamant that the eldest son, (Louie’s brother Edward who was also off in the Army) should have married first. Perhaps if Louie had lived Anna would have accepted Helen and Helen would have gotten along with Anna. I like to think that. There are many reasons for the bad blood between my mother, the surviving widow who remarried, and my Grandmother Ball, grieving mother who went to her grave at 80 still believing that someday Louie would be found and come home. For these and other reasons I hardly knew my father’s family even though we lived close in PA. I was blessed though to have contact with Uncle Henry and his family( my father’s baby brother) who lived in CA as we did; we lost Uncle Henry in 2008. Today again thanks to the internet and my AWON tribute, I am in contact with my cousins, daughters of Uncle Eddie after years of silence. It is interesting to hear what they know of Grandma Ball. The photo below was taken sometime in early 1944 with my Dad home for a short leave:Left to right, Henry,Mother Anna, Lou, and Frank Ball. My grandmother Anna gave me this old photo when I left for California so long ago.
But for this Sepia Saturday the photos will suffice. I have assembled a huge scrapbook about my father and am working on a memoir about my life growing up and surviving without a father, never knowing anyone else like me until I joined AWON in 1990’s, always wondering what if, and yet not having many answers until my mom died in 2004 and we found a suitcase full of letters and paperwork. But as I said this is not my story this Sepia, this is only to share some photos of my dad.
I close this post with a quote from one of my father's pilot training books. It was a dedication to the brave men who were pilots during that siege of a time, warning them that they were not immortal and what might be ahead. I use this line every time I post something about my dad---... their memory becomes a treasure...he holds the sky...