one story of many

The WWII Service of
US 8th Air Force
466 Bombardment Group (Heavy)
784th Squadron - Crew 413




Getting There


At War 





 On May 1, 1945, my father was liberated by the Russians after 377 days as a German Prison of War.  He sent a brief message letting his mother know he was free:

"Liberated May 1.  Now in France.  Fine health.  Home soon.  Hoping all is well.  Your loving son."

Nine days later on May 10 he wrote and sent  his mother this letter:

Group I
Wing X
Barth, Germany
May 10, 1945

Dearest Mother,
Well after a year as a P.O.W. we were finally were liberated by the Russians on May 1st.  Since they’ve came we’ve had quite a time and I’m still raising hell now.  We’ll be all home shortly so don’t worry.
Tell Mrs. Zeigler (sp) that Paul’s here and he’s ok.  We’ll probably come home together.
“Twis” (sp) and I are quite anxious to get moving so we can get out and raise hell.
Tell everyone I said hello and that I’ll be seeing them soon.
Barth is the name of the town and it was founded about 6 or 8 hundred…quite an old place…Some beautiful sights…also “Frauleins!”  So Long & Lots of Love,

Your Loving Son,

P.S.  Tell Mick to kill the chickens and tell Marty to start cooking…tell Jim to try and get a furlough sometime about June 15.

He was not to come home as early as he had hoped.  His final letter was composed on May 30, somewhere in France.

May 30, 1945

Dear Mother,

 Well, I’m still here & I may be here 15 more days.  So Please Tell Jim not to get that furlough till I  hit the states.  That’s if he can get one at all.

 I’m going to go to England for 7 days.  So I’ll probably go home from there.  I figured I may as well give England a look over & have some fun instead of laying around doing nothing.

I will be home sometime in the very near future.  July sometime I hope.  There’s such an abundance of men to be shipped out that it’s quite a job.  Besides if I got home now I’d eat you out of house & home.

I haven’t seen Ziglier since I left Barth Germany.  But he’s around someplace.  “Twis” is still here but in a different area.  I don’t know whether he’s going to England or not.  But if his wife should write to you don’t mention England to her.  She may not like the idea if he should go.

Today is memorial day in the E.T.O. and they’re going to have quite a doings here at this base.

I sure hope some ships come in to take us out to Eng soon.  We may fly I don’t know.

 When I get to England I’ll try & get some souvenirs.  If I get paid before I leave here I’ll get some here.  I believe I’m getting paid this afternoon  So they just said.

 Well, don’t worry and I’ll be home eventually.  As soon as I get done seeing the old country.

 Your Loving Son,


I have no further details on when or how he actually returned.  He received the Purple Heart for the wounds he received when shot out of the Virgin Sturgeon, and many years after his death I applied for and received a POW Medal in his name.  Both are displayed at the top of each page of this website.

After the war my father remained in the Army Air Force for a time, eventually based at Travis Air Force Base in northern California.  There he met and married my mother, Rosemary McGovern,  daughter of Rear Admiral John B. McGovern who had played a significant  role in the Pacific theatre of operations during WWII.  I was born at Travis AFB at 1816 hours on December 25, 1951.  Here is the announcement sent on my arrival:


 After leaving the Air Corp and following a brief stay in Idaho, my family returned to Carbondale, PA to live with my father's mother Mary Francis McMyne, whom everyone called Babe.  We lived there for a few years during which my brother Michael was born.  When I was 7 we moved to Wharton, New Jersey.  We returned to Carbondale almost every weekend and each summer until I was in high school and, even then, returned for holidays.   Many years later I returned to live with my Grandmother for two years while obtaining my Master's Degree at the University of Scranton. 

My father attended technical school and worked in the electronics field.  He was elected Mayor of Wharton.   He was diagnosed with lung cancer in his mid-forties and had a lung removed.  A few years later the cancer returned and no further treatment was attempted.  With the help of Dot Lyons, a family friend who was a nurse, we were able to care for my father at home.  I returned from college in the beginning of the second semester of my junior year as my mother felt he had only a few days left.  As it turned out, I helped my mother care for him for 5 weeks and I was with him at the moment he died peacefully in his sleep. 

I will conclude with a few words about my Father's mother, Grandma Babe.   She was an intelligent, decent and courageous women who anchored her family.  She taught my mother to cook and I remember her being great fun when I was a youngster, letting me help her in the kitchen, and chasing me into the coal bin when I was bad.  She loved poetry and would often recite many of her favorite poems from memory.  She also loved her African Violets and a Christmas Cactus she had for many years.  When she died more than 25 years ago, I took the cactus home with me and I still have it as well as another cactus I propagated from it about 10 years ago.  They both bloom beautifully every year for many months, reminding me of the many happy hours I had with my Grandma Babe.  Perhaps most important, Grandma Babe raised my father to be the good man that he was.

My father and his mother ("Grandma Babe") on the porch of their home in Carbondale, PA

 What I remember most about her is her tremendous courage and optimism.  She was stricken at a very early age with severe arthritis that completely crippled her hands and her other joints.  As if that were not enough, she was also stricken very early with very severe psoriasis covering her body in disfiguring, irritating and itchy scales.  These two conditions left her uncomfortable at best and often in great pain.   Through the almost 30 years I knew Grandma Babe, I cannot remember her complaining about her conditions even once.   When I lived with her while in school, although she had not been able to move her fingers for over 20 years, she insisted on cooking me dinner and would even bake me my favorite dish of hers, an apple pie. 

After my Father's funeral she told me that burying her youngest son was the hardest thing  she had ever done.   She lived many more years and died in her late 70's after a brief illness.  I will never forget Grandma Babe or my father and  I hope that something of them lives on in me.

If you have any further information regarding my father or any comments or questions please contact me at


His Story



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