Showing posts with label WWII. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WWII. Show all posts

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sepia Saturday 178 Memorial Day back to 1943, my father

2013 Some things of my father, insignia, leather pilot cap
An open theme this week allows me to travel from today to 1943 with a  Memorial Day tribute to my father and all the brave souls who gave their all for our country and freedom.  The color photo to the left has mementos from my father, US Army Air Corps Lt. Lewis S Ball.  You know the story, I never knew him born  months after he and his entire combat flight crew disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean, June 20, 1944, WWII, The  aviator cap is in perfect condition and most likely could  have been a spare which seems to counter to the sparse gear the US Army distributed back then.  This cap was amongst many  documents and items I found it in an old  suitcase in 2004 after Mom died.   I have wondered as with so many  unanswerable thoughts, where did he get it and how did it stay in perfect shape?  There are letters on the top, "USN"  which I think are for US Navy, curious, my father was US Army Air Corp.  Did they get aviator caps for whatever service branch, did it matter?  

This photo of my father at the propeller is 1943 with him wearing this or another identical cap at Dorr Field, Arcadia Florida during his early flight training in P-38's and PT's. 

1943 July Lt L S Ball  Dorr Field
Lou  liked flying and especially  those small planes and aspired to be a fighter pilot in the Army Air Corps, but Uncle Sam needed ever so many more B-24 pilots and although Lou was not a large man in height he was strong and eager and assigned to fly the B-24 Liberator.   The following post card was one of the few things Mom shared with me although she would always call it, "that damned plane."  I don't know what he thought but I have some of his own notes and drawings from training, he was a dedicated student.   It has been said that the B-24's  were flat faced, rectangular and had  the look only a "myopic mother" could love.   The cockpit  was cramped requiring pilot and co pilot to live cheek to jowl during missions.  One WWII pilot wrote, that the first time he entered the cockpit of his B-24 "it was like sitting on the front porch and flying the house."  The Liberator was one of the heaviest planes in the world, the D model  weighed 71,200 pounds loaded.  Flying it was like "wrestling a bear" which left the pilots tired, and sore.  B-24 pilots were known to have huge muscles on their left arms which they used to man the yoke while their right hand worked other controls.  

This is the cover of my father's  August 1943 "Dorr Way", a booklet for the pilot trainees, they were the class 44-a.   I am  mindful of the task these  men faced  and grateful that I have these historic items.  It is a wonder that in the times of WWII the U S Army Air Corp would take the time to photograph and document their times at these different training sites.  It was a time when they would move quickly through and advance to the next training or wash out and be assigned to another task, not able to make it as a pilot.  Many hundreds of thousands of men went through the training but most did not achieve pilot status. The wash out rate was  at it lowest 30 percent but in  later years 45%; but the men who were not pilots would be given other flight status  jobs, bombardier, gunner, radioman, all with an appreciation of the difficulties they faced.    
 Louis Zamperini discusses the huge fatality rate of B-24 crew in his marvelous  book ,  "Unbroken" authored by Laura Hillenbrand,  the dangers that abounded even before they flew off to war theater.  The men called the B-24  "The Flying Coffin"   "Stories of its dangers circulated among the would be airmen all over the country.  Pilot and navigator error, mechanical failure, fuel leakages, sinkability, inability to ditch, and bad luck were killing trainees at stunning rate.. 52,615Army Air Corps stateside aircraft accidents over WWII killing 14, 903 personnel...In August 1943  590 airmen would die stateside, 19 per day." 
My father's squadron, # 6 at Dorr that Class of 44-a.  There were 6 similar
squadrons according to this book.  He is seated to the far right on the ground.

I cropped and enlarged the photo to the right of my father from the Squadron photo.  There again is that aviator cap, and goggles.  He looks happy and excited.  Look at his sparkling smile and his eyes.   He had less than one year of life left ahead when this photo was taken.  Maybe he did not yet know that the Liberator awaited. He was a positive young man.   Lou would  confide  in  his young brother, Henry, on his final leave home  that he was not so sure he had done the right thing in taking the pilot's training.  I doubt if he had much choice, he was in the Army and they made the rules.  It was not today's Army by a long shot and how could he have declined pilot training for which he scored very high in aptitude and  preliminary  screenings.   The aviators gathered in the photo below are waiting solo assignments.   

1944 June, short  newspaper clipping about
disappearance of my father
 and ..Combat crew 193

Last photo Dorr Field book 1943, an almost
spooky quality to the men now ready to meet their destiny, whether  to the next phase of training  as in Lou's case or...,.

This is  my Sepia Saturday contribution.  Click here to the Sepia host site where members of the international community respond to the prompt.  This week many consider the  eyes  in the   photo.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Sepia Saturday 101 809th Tank Destroyer (Click Here to Sepia Site)

Patch with 809th Emblem
I have been busy  reviewing Uncle Carl's WWII and reunion records to help  a nephew of a man who was in the 809th; the nephew contacted me by facebook.  Since I relate absolutely to the frustrations of folks who are researching family members I was eager to help the man, but so far  nothing in particular about his uncle has shown up.  Uncle Carl was active in  setting up annual reunions of the 809th until his later years when he could no longer travel and today very few of these WWII vets remain amongst us.  This has had my wheels spinning and when I saw the theme for the week, I knew I had something in orange and  a reference to Oldsmobile (no longer exists)  of General Motors. 

 I have written before about Uncle Carl who passed at 93 in May.  As a reminder, here is Carl,  January 1944, a young soldier training on desert techniques in California prior to departure for Europe.  They were uncertain where they would be sent so the tank destroyers were prepared for all terrains and climates.  

Once I asked him how he ended up in the tank destroyers unit and he would not tell me much, but said he was training men to shoot.  He was a sniper and a great shot, a skill developed from boyhood hunting with his father.  His skills landed him in the headquarters unit.  He never talked to me too much about his war years.  There is a story that when he returned he had something from the 809th with the emblem and when I saw it, I started to cry and  fuss, the image upset me, well it does look vicious, but it was a bad time on earth.  My grandmother would have none of that upsetting me so that emblem was removed from my sight and to be truthful I never remember seeing it, but I remember the story.  Later when I was a teenager, Uncle Carl told me he had a necklace set aside for me someday.  I forgot all about it but  found it stashed with his WWII memorabilia after he passed, a small gold medallion  with that 809th logo, marked, "for Patty when she gets older."  But, this is about the tank destroyers.  I shuffled through the suitcase of documents and photos and memorabilia I have yet to sort, looking for the information. 

Wikipedia says that ..  "The 809th Tank Destroyer Battalion was a  battalion of the United States Army active during the Second World War. The battalion was activated on 18 March 1942, and remained in the United States until November 1944, when it was moved to the United Kingdom. It arrived in France on 20 January 1945, equipped with M18 Hellcat tank destroyers. It was attached to the 8th Armored Division on 9 February, and fought in the crossing of the Roer. On 20 March, it was attached to the 79th Infantry Division, crossing the Rhine on the 27th, and was then attached to the 95th Infantry Division for the fighting around the Ruhr Pocket in April before being returned to the 8th Armoured on 13 April. During this month, it converted to M36 Jackson tank destroyers. In late April it saw action in the Harz Mountains, finishing the war in central Germany."  This coincides with many photos from Carl and with  a card he once sent his mother from  the "Thundering Herd" which was the 8th Armored Division. 

Below is a poster that measures 9 inches by 14 inches about the tank destroyers.  It is not readable in the photo so I scanned the  poster in two parts to share here. 

The top part of this poster is:

The bottom of the poster, notice the reference to Oldsmobile, General Motors:

Again  courtesy of Wikipedia..."Oldsmobile was a brand of American automobile produced for most of its existence by General Motors. It was founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. In its 107-year history, it produced 35.2 million cars, including at least 14 million built at its Lansing, Michigan factory. When it was phased out in 2004, Oldsmobile was the oldest surviving American automobile marque, and one of the oldest in the world, after Daimler and Peugeot. The closing of the Oldsmobile division presaged a larger consolidation of GM brands and discontinuation of models during the company's 2009 bankruptcy reorganization."

1934 Oldsmobile from  GM Archives

It was interesting to be reminded how industry catered to the war effort as did  the entire country.  But this post is about the tank destroyer battalion.  I have a large narrow , 11 inch by 24 inch framed photo from 1942 of the men in the 809th headquarters battalion but I cannot figure how to get it posted other than photographing it in parts.  Perhaps the man's uncle is in this photo.  The glass is cracked and so this is something I will be having reframed at sometime to hang in the patriotic room.  Meantime, my Sepia blog pals may be able to provide some advice, guidance as to how I can  capture the photograph to share with the nephew searching  for his uncle's story. Evidently his uncle died in 1956 in an accident and was not in touch with the men of the 809th who had their first reunion in 1960 in Chicago; I was not able to find his name on any of the rosters in Carl's files. 
809th Headquarters Battalion, March 1944, Camp Robinson, Arkansas
 The 809th traveled all through Europe.  I remember Uncle Carl telling me that they were everywhere which is why he had no desire to ever return.  The last item identifies the places where my Uncle went with his battalion; I have his canteen onto which he meticulously and carefully engraved the name of each place beginning with his initial training.  

Stations of the 809th Headquarters Battalion
 More about this next week or so...... as usual visit the Sepia Saturday Host Site by clicking on the title to this post above.   See what others in the international community are sharing this week to coincide or not with Alan's suggested theme. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

You  might get tired of hearing this, but I LOVED this book, all 398 pages of the story, 8 pages of Acknowledgements and 50 pages of notes; I do not recall reading a book through  including the notes in recent times or ever other than James Michener's later  books, in fact Laura Hillenbrand, the author reminds me of Michener in style and depth of research.  "Unbroken"  on the best sellers lists currently is the story of Louie Zamperini,  noted runner in the Berlin Olympic games and in 1943 an Army Air Corps  Lieutenant, bombardier on the Green Hornet, a B-24, which is shot down in the Pacific.  Louie, Allen Philips, the pilot and Mac, the tail gunner survive the crash and float on a raft for 46 days before being captured by the Japanese and taken prisoner in May 1943.  Actually Mac does not make it  and is buried at sea by the two men.  I have read much about World War II because of my father but little of my readings have been about the war in the Pacific.  When I first heard this book was in  process I knew I would have to read it because Laura has written only one other book, "Seabiscuit" which I absolutely enjoyed and have kept in my library and I enjoyed her detail and writing and research.  I have likely heard about Louie Zamperini but not paid attention but as I learned that it was a B-24, same plane as my father's I knew I'd b reading this book.

Louie Zamperini
Louie is still alive today at 94 in southern California.    How he or any of the men captured by the Japanese as POW's survived and endured is beyond belief.  As Zeke Jennings wrote in his review of this book,  "Think back to the worst experience of your life. Chances are, it pales in comparison to what Louis Zamperini went through..."  To state that they were tortured is an inadequate understatement and to know that some could and did survive is a testament to human endurance and something greater than all of us.

This book has a great deal of detail and drawings of the B-24's the complexity of those early days of navigation and the problems with that bomber, the best that the US had at the time.  Pages 59-60 describe the early B-24's and the personal qualities needed in men who flew them and by page 61 the research specifies the deadly accidents attributable to that plane in the early days of navigation.  I had learned about the accidents in training and of course lived with that legacy but reading it again gave me chills.  By page 82 the affect of human errors and miscalculations is discussed along with the faulty fuel systems and the fact that the  24's were notorious for fuel leaks; I can relate to that.   On Page 84,  I learned that 52,173 Army Air Corps men were killed in combat in World War II and in the Pacific those flight crews had less than a  50/50 chance of survival.   I learned that by design the B-24's could not ditch  but sank immediately due to their open fuselages.  There were rarely funerals held for the  B-24 crews, rarely  bodies were found and during the Pacific  missions  1/4 of a barracks could be lost at once.  "The men were just gone and that was the end of it."   

But this book is about Louie, his boyhood in Torrance, California, his Olympic triumphs,  his education at USC, his enlistment in World War II, and his captivity, endurance and release and tormented existence following the war where he turns to alcohol and then his  big life release as he is saved at a Billy Graham crusade in southern CA.  It's hard to describe Louie, a man with a sense of humor and determination that sustains him through movements from bad to worse in the Japanese camps, beatings,  isolation,  starvation, and unceasing nightmares.  The Bird, a Japanese soldier, so named by the POWs is Louie's primary menace in the camps and becomes his civilian nightmare.  The Japanese knew of his Olympic fame and enjoyed all the more subduing him.   When  Louie was released and being rehabilitated and ready to be sent  home from Okinawa he is so enjoying meeting up with former colleagues that he asks to stay just a bit longer to  see more of them. He is partying too and enjoying life again, though still battling dysentery and other physcial problems.  Everyone had believed him long dead  because the Japanese never reported that he was held captive and the Red Cross  never verified men in the camps; any man missing was declared dead after 13 months.   Louie got a big kick out of surprising them and watching their faces and hearing their words when they saw him in person!

The horrors and atrocities the  prisoners endured are unimaginable.  That any of them survived is a miracle.  I learned that the POWs in the  Japanese camps were executed  when Allied forces approached, that the Japanese  preferred to kill the men rather than turn them back to their countries.  Pg. 314-315 cite "Japan held  some  132,000 POWs from America, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Holland and Australia.  Of those, nearly  36,000 died, more than one in four.  Americans fared particularly badly: of the 34,648 Americans held by Japan, 12,935--more than 37% died.  By comparison only 1% of Americans  held by Nazis and Italians died. Japan murdered thousands of POWs on death marches, and worked thousands of others to death in slavery..."  Back in civilian life, these men did not get the counseling and treatments pervasive and  given today; what is  known today as Post traumatic  stress was not recognized. That they made it through hell barely prepared them fro their freedom and return to life.   Pg. 349, "Their dignity had been obliterated, replaced with a pervasive sense of shame and worthlessness." But Louie survives and ultimately thrives, marries, has children and outlives his brother,  sisters and wife .  In his 70's he takes up skateboarding and the book includes a photo of him on a skateboard at 81!  He runs the torch in five Olympic games including  one in Japan where he runs it past the former POW camp site.  Louie founds a nonprofit Victory Boys Camp for lost boys whom he takes fishing, swimming, horseback riding, camping and skiing.  One ungovernable boy is such a problem that Louie had to be deputized by a sheriff to gain custody of the boy.

Pg. 384, "Well into his 10th decade of life between the occasional broken bone he could still be seen perched on skis merrily cannonballing down mountains.  He remained infectiously, incorrigibly cheerful..."  He believes that everything happened for a reason  and all things eventually  come to good.    When he contacted Laura to write his story he reasoned that if she could describe an old horse, she could surely tell his tale.  She does this so  eloquently and has chosen the photos and events as carefully as her words.  The Epilogue is very touching  with summaries of the lives of Allen Phillips  and Bill Harris, a marine POW who stays in the Marines and becomes a Lt. Colonel but who disappears in the Korean War in 1950.   

Recently there have been news stories featuring Louie which is timely with the release of this book.  I knew it was one I'd want to read and it is one I will keep and treasure.   I absolutely recommend it.  Resilience, survival, and faith.  As I am  putting this on  my blog as my first completed book read in 2011, I have just learned that Universal Pictures has acquired screen rights to Unbroken.   Wouldn't it be great to see Louie in the film? 

For more about the author, who is a favorite of mine, check out  Wikipedia at

or this link 
and read of her struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome in    A Sudden Illness -- How My Life Changed as published in the New Yorker.  And this link about  her

Friday, December 3, 2010

Uncle Carl's Germany 1945 Sepia Saturday Week 52 (Click here to go to the Sepia site)

1944 on the way to Germany
This Sepia I share some select photos from Uncle Carl's time in Germany  with the US Army, 809th Tank Destroyers,  all dated 1944-45 World War II.  He had mailed all these photos home so they are all stamped on the back "passed by Army Examiner" along with his handwritten notes. I am surprised that some were released  although I suspect that the mail took so long  to arrive stateside  that by the time the photos made it to their destinations it would have been old news shown at the movies.  So unlike today's instant in our face 24/7 from the battle zones.  I have labeled each photo in Uncle Carl's words. 

Some photos were just noted as "Germany" some Gottingen, some Gottengham and  others Guttenghamn.  Likely Uncle Carl wasn't certain or careful of the spelling if he even knew it.   I Googled and found Gottingen Germany today, a very old city in what was the Saxony region and home of a noted University.  According to Wikipedia, (not to be confused with the notorious Wikileaks)  "The origins of Göttingen lay in a village called Gutingi. This village was first mentioned in a document in 953. The city was founded between 1150 and 1200 to the northwest of this village and adopted its name. In medieval times the city was a member of the Hanseatic League and hence a wealthy town.  The University of Göttingen (German: Georg-August-Universität Göttingen), known informally as Georgia Augusta, is a university in the city of Göttingen, Germany.   Founded in 1734 by King George II of Great Britain and the Elector of Hanover, it opened for classes in 1737." 

1944  Yanks to Germany

That first  photo, by  his writing makes me think the 809th TD Battalion had not yet arrived in Germany.  It does not state where they were but I am thinking surely they did not have to walk/march all the way to Germany.  This is the Battalion and a lively group they are.  Somehow my Uncle had his camera on the ready.   This next photo of  two unidentified soldiers merely had Yanks, as the label below.  I think the man on the left may be in other photos and I will have to see if his name is revealed.  I am wondering if these were Americans or Brits, simply because he used the term "Yanks." 

What little  my Uncle would tell me of his War experiences, he was very fond of the Brits who served with and  among them.  While he  never wanted to return to Europe, instead spent his travel hunting and fishing and being with his Army buddies at reunions, his wife Aunt Marge traveled with her sisters, but only to Spain, Italy and  Portugal.  He said he had seen enough to last him a lifetime.

Germany  train held

This photo does not identify where in Germany, but since all the rest are in "Gottingen" I suspect this might  be there as well.  The photo of the train and several below were all taken May 12, 1945 according to his notes.  Evidently they were occupying the buildings and the town.   
German Ammunition plant blown up by our Air Force. Along side of where we stay

This is the building where I stay now you can see where the bombs hit

 The above photo had no name on the back, my limited knowledge of German tells me this was off limits.  I think this man may be in other photos and may be identified later.

Airplane engines that were left behind by the Germans
Corporal  Sims, our mailman, Cpl. Lowe, our medic, and Sgt. Slick
Carl in the rubble pipes to salvage

When I look at this photo of my Uncle in the "rubble" I think, that being Teofil's son, he would scrounge and save every bit of whatever might be useful at whenever for whoever would need it.  I suppose it was a relief to be merely picking and gathering instead of leading the seek and destroy mission.    

German plane destroyed by the Yanks

 This last photo with only a few of the men from the 809th at their reunion in  Greensboro North Carolina in 1973.  Uncle Carl was president of the Reunion Committee for several years and arranged many of these events.  ; he is seated in the center holding the tank destroyer's battalion logo.  He never missed a reunion until the years caught up with him and as with others traveling was not on the agenda.  He may be one of the oldest survivors now at 92.  He was proud but quiet about those years, a patriot as were all those  men. I remember him saying  "It was a suicide mission.  Well it was OK for those of us who survived...."

As usual click on the title to this post to go to the Sepia Saturday international host site.  From there you can browse what others have shared this week. 


Friday, April 16, 2010

My Father Lewis S Ball Sepia Saturday 19 (Click here to visit others' on Sepia Saturday)

For this week I show a photo which I treasure, my father and my hero, Lt. Lewis S Ball and Combat Crew 193, First Air Force, First command 113th Army Air Force Base (Wing), D squadron, Unit Combat Crew 193, Charleston, South Carolina  

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     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.   

Louie, as he was called, was born April 3, 1922 to Frank Ball and Anna Kudzia Ball in Harwick, PA, the middle of three sons. They were a stalwart Polish family and devout Roman Catholics. Louie was a Boy Scout and a member of the championship first aid team of PA. Louie worked at Duquesne Light Company, Harwick mine before enlisting in the Army, against the wishes of his mother. I was told by Uncle Henry  and others that my father was exceptionally smart and that he was the favorite son.  They say Louie had the best sense of humor and was full of fun. The  3 brothers are in this photo Eddie, Henry and Louie.  I remember very little of Frank Ball, my father's father who died when I was maybe  7 years old.  I had infrequent contact with my grandmother Anna Ball. 
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.

Dad was stationed for a time at Ft. McCoy, WI, not far from where we live today. I am amazed when I trace his steps and see the same places today that he saw so may years ago.  He loved to take photographs and in that suitcase in Mom’s closet I found this one taken in February 1943 outside their barracks at Ft. McCoy. It was developed across the river here in La Crosse, WI.  These are 4 of  dad's friends in his writing left to right, Tony, Jackson, Joe, Jerry,  Looks like they are all enjoying a smoke!  And here outside the barracks  also at Ft. McCoy, prior to the time he  left for pilot training, Lou (my dad) and Jobe.  No last names and no way to identify these men. 
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...

Monday, February 25, 2008

About my father and me

Last year I kept busy with research and writing a tribute to my father, getting him and his crew memorialized correctly at the WWII monument, and going through a lot of grieving after 60 + years reservoir of sadness in a Wall of Silence!

The photo includes my dad, standing back row far left,hand in pocket, pilot on that fatal flight with the entire Combat Crew 193. I have all their names but cannot identify them in the photo.

Thought you might be interested in reading , the tribute on the American World War II Orphans Network, AWON website, through the link that follows. If for any reason that does not work for you, you can Google AWON and scroll through the fathers''s been quite a journey and were it not for this organization I'd still be thinking I was the only one who lost a father in WWII, whom I never knew, never heard much about and was ignored by his family. Actually there were more than 180,000 of us who lost fathers and who were deemed "Orphans" by our government. I've learned that many of us now in our 60's and many older lived the same loss experiences all across the country. The Wall of Silence was the way of coping that crossed cultures, parts of the country, ages. ...And many of us today are all we have.

Jerry & I found material when cleaning out my mother's house in PA after she died suddenly in 2004. What a treasure chest that she had kept through the years. Wish she could have talked about it when she was alive. Anyway, now I have accomplished another one of my retirement goals!! I use the signature below in corresponding with AWONers and the military about this ...

daughter of 2LT Lewis S. Ball
MIA June 20, 1944 flight enroute from Nassau,Bahamas to Charleston, SC
113th Army Air Corps, Combat Crew 193 Charleston Army Air Field