General

Remember Pearl Harbor!

(Posted: December 7, 2014)

Seventy-three years ago today at 7:55 AM on a quiet Sunday morning, America was thrust into WWII when Pearl Harbor was attacked!  Approximately 2400 precious young  lives were lost and over 1100 were injured in the blatant attack!  It is “a date that will live in infamy.”  We must never forget!

Remembering His Story With Hailey

(Posted: June 15, 2013)

I love it…….when members of the younger generation express an interest in WWII history; … when you can see that a younger person gets it; … when it’s obvious that they realize that freedom isn’t free!  I recently had the heartwarming experience of meeting 13-year-old Hailey Dunmire and her Mom.  Hailey chose my book “What I Never Told You” for a report required in her class in school.  Her Mom took the time to contact me via my web site and inquired if I could possibly meet Hailey and perhaps add to her project in “feeding her sense in this history.”  I was delighted to meet them and give Hailey insight into my, and more importantly what I’ve learned of my Father’s experience.  I took my Father’s original notebooks and talked about some of the pages.  I commented on additional relevant facts and events that have come about since the book was published.  I showed her a “souvenir” that I obtained from my Father’s crashed B-17 that was given to me after the book was published.

Hailey is a breath of fresh air and I wish more people her age would follow her lead and feel the same sense and values in our freedoms.  I realize how easy it is to take it for granted when we’ve never lost it or had it threatened.  It means so much to know that she understands and appreciates those who have served and are serving to maintain the level of freedom that our heroes in WWII fought for and won for us.

We enjoyed a meeting in a most appropriate place, Veteran’s Memorial Park, in Salamanca, NY.  If you look closely at the photo, you will notice a memorial brick to the far left and three bricks down with my Father’s name, “John R. Kyler” inscribed.  It couldn’t have been a more perfect venue for our meeting!  When I showed Hailey and her Mom my Dad’s brick, I remembered that I obtained it for him several years ago for Father’s Day.  I recalled how I had to ask my Father what branch he had been in and his service period, something I really should have known at that time.  If only I had been like Hailey, I would have had more questions then and learned about my Father’s wartime experience from him rather than researching after his unexpected passing.  I admire her awareness and curiosity ensuring that the price of freedom indeed lives on in the future generations.

 

D-Day as a POW in Stalag Luft VI

(Posted: June 6, 2013)
Today marks the 69th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion! This is a page from my Father’s POW notebook.  Notice how he has notated June 6, 1944, differently than other days.  Even though he was behind barbed wire with German propaganda echoing in the air, he knew of the D-Day Invasion!!!  It was because of the POW ingenuity in the building of the crystal radios.  They smuggled parts into the camp to build the secret radios that they would keep hidden from the German guards.  It would drive the guards nuts trying to find out where they obtained their information!  This is proof that as isolated as the POWs were, through their perseverance, determination and innovation, they did everything they could to keep faith that they would some day have their freedom!

Facebook Page: What I Never Told You

(Posted: November 21, 2012)

Follow me at this link on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/WhatINeverToldYou?ref=hl

World War II Aircraft: B-17 “Nine O Nine”, B-24 “Witchcraft” & P-51 “Betty Jane”

(Posted: August 22, 2012)

August 10-13, 2012, the Collings Foundation, http://www.collingsfoundation.org/menu.htm,  brought the B-17 “Nine O Nine,” the B-24 “Witchcraft,” and the P-51 “Betty Jane” to the Jamestown Airport as one of the stops in their “Wings of Freedom 2012″ tour.  It was exhilarating to see all 3 of these WWII vintage aircraft in one place.  It was a cool breezy morning, and exceptionally windy when the engines started one by one increasing the velocity and adding to the enjoyment and appreciation of the experience!  There’s nothing like it!  Of course I think of my Dad and feel pride knowing that he once was an integral part of the B-17 crew.

I loved seeing the looks on the faces of the Veterans who were waiting to fly perhaps for the first time since the War.  My friend, Lester Bishop, rode in “Witchcraft” on Monday, August 13, the anniversary of the day he bailed out of his B-24 sixty-eight years ago.

I took advantage of the opportunity to walk through the 2 Bombers.  I’d walked through the B-17s “Fuddy Duddy” and “Liberty Belle” in previous years but could not pass up the chance to once again view the impressive “Flying Fortress” that my Father had once flown in as ball turret gunner.  I had never seen the inside of the “B-24″ and that, too, was amazing to me.  It is hard to imagine the young boys who flew in these bombers; the quarters were so cramped.  It just reiterates the incredible bravery exhibited by the crews.

While we were at the airport the P-51 ”Betty Jane” was under cover due to the threatening weather conditions so I didn’t get to see the fighter plane fly but I did get to see “her” and that was a treat!!  All in all it was a grand morning.  I remarked how amazing that it would have been during the days that the skies were filled with these beautiful machines.  It is such a treat today to even see just one lone plane from this group in flight!  What nostalgic feelings emerged upon viewing the historic specimens that helped us win the War; thanks to the brave men who flew them!!

Thank you to the Collings Foundation for providing a trip back in time to all who were fortunate enough to ride, walk through or just catch a glimpse of these beauties.

 

P-51 “Betty Jane”

 

B-17 “Nine O Nine”

 

B-24 “Witchcraft”

 

 

Memorial Day – May 28, 2012

(Posted: May 28, 2012)

REMEMBER THOSE HEROES WHO HAVE PAID THE ULTIMATE PRICEFOR US.  THEY SACRIFICED FOR THEIR LOVED ONES AND FOR THOSE THEY DIDN’T KNOW!  OUR PAYMENT CAN BE IN THE WAY THAT WE CARRY ON FOR THEM.  THE WORLD WOULD BE A BETTER PLACE IF WE ALL LIVED OUR LIVES PROVING TO THOSE WHO HAVE LAID THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE FOR US THAT WE ARE WORTHY!   I WROTE THE FOLLOWING POEM IN MEMORY OF OUR FALLEN HEROES . . . . . MAY WE NEVER FORGET!

We gathered this morning at a little past nine;

And listened to speeches with the day’s purpose defined.

It was a moving remembrance of those who in battle have died.

With taps beautifully played, there were many who cried.

Recalling the ultimate sacrifices so we could be free;

One might ask themselves just  ”how worthy are we?”

If we can remember they did it for us; their lives down they laid;

And take nothing for granted knowing there’s a price that was paid.

Make them proud by being the very best we can be.

Then their sacrifice won’t have been in vain for you or for me.

Think of them daily – not just one day a year.

Keep in mind, they’re the reason we’re not living in fear.

With their lives cut so short, onward worthily we must live.

Our daily appreciation, is the best debt payment that we could give.

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Memorial Day Ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Salamanca, NY

Joe O’Donnell POW 1414

(Posted: January 5, 2012)

If you haven’t noticed I am in the process of adding articles and pages from former POW Joe O’Donnell’s “The Shoe Leather Express” books.  I feel that there is so much important history that I am going to try to add as many of the riveting stories and as much information as I can.  It should be of interest to all.  Joe has graciously given me his permission to do this.  I will have all of the posts pertaining to his books under the category of “The Shoe Leather Express – Joseph P. O’Donnell POW 1414″ with, of course, the most recent post on top.  There’s a series of books and I will do my best to select the information to capture and present it in the order and manner which will attract the interest, the attention and appreciation that these worthy heroes deserve.

8th Air Force Historical Society Reunion, St. Louis, October 2011

(Posted: November 7, 2011)

I’ve just added a brief summary of the 8th AFHS reunion that I recently attended in St. Louis.  It is enjoyable not only to spend time with those who share the same interest, but also to talk to so many people you are interested in.

Click link to article:   http://www.remember-history.com/events/8th-air-force-historical-society-reunion-october-2011/

Presentation October 12 to Zonta Ladies in Bradford

(Posted: October 18, 2011)

I was very pleased to be invited to present my book at a Zonta luncheon on October 12, 2011, at Togi’s in Bradford, PA.   I received a warm welcome from the group.  It was a rewarding sensation when they responded enthusiastically to my talk summarizing my experience in retracing my Father’s journey in WWII.  I took pictures of pages from my Father’s notebooks that I had blown up.  I am so proud to exhibit them and to tell about our brave WWII heroes.  I always stress the fact that the book is not just about my Dad, but about all of those heroes who fought for us in WWII and won.  I mention that I can only hope that it will inspire appreciation for all of those who serve in the military; then and now.  I received a photo taken at the luncheon and I will try to add it later if it scans okay.  It was a thoughtful gesture of the group to send it to me and I am grateful.  It was another rewarding experience.

Seminar held August 8-9, 2011 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Seattle, Washington

(Posted: August 12, 2011)

I couldn’t wait to come home and write about my recent heartening experience in my efforts to carry on the legacy of my Father and all those who fought for us in WWII. Joint Base Lewis-McChord (McChord Field), the headquarters of the Air Force Reserve flying unit, the 446th Airlift Wing in Seattle, Washington, could not have been a more perfect venue for the panel that I was fortunate enough to be presenting with; in Hangar Number 9 mind you!! What an honor to be among these distinguished individuals! It was a privilege to sit in their midst absorbing the enlightening and motivational programs that were conducted throughout the two-day seminar. I was in awe of the participants, as well as the presenters. Throughout the days I found myself making written as well as mental notes about things that I wanted to remember. I felt so strongly that I was walking among the best! I absolutely understand their sacrifice as well as the sacrifice of their families when they are called upon. These solid individuals brought me up. I really didn’t know what to expect and I feel very privileged to have been included in the outstanding two day gathering.

I am especially grateful to Jennifer Kannapel and Captain Danah Autrey for the invitation. I have to say it was a very huge deal for me! It all came about because of Jennifer and my mutual friendship with Helga Radau. Helga plays a critical role in preserving the history of Barth, Germany. Barth is the home of the former Stalag Luft I prisoner of war camp; another connection for us in that Jennifer’s Grandfather and my Father were interned in this camp. Jennifer would pay a visit to Barth in her research of her Grandfather’s experience five years after my first visit. It was Helga who brought us together. I followed up on her desire to have me contact Jennifer about this seminar that she could not attend.

I learned so much about Jennifer’s Grandfather, about the famous Kassel Mission, and how he survived the mission and wrote an extraordinary detailed diary of his internment.  It was incredible to meet and visit with another WWII hero, Jim Baynham! I was in my element to be able to ask him questions that I no longer had the luxury of asking my Father. Jim is a gem of a fellow and I admire him and cannot thank him enough for humoring us in his responses to the many questions that Jennifer and I had. The memories that he shared are of very painful and dangerous times yet his responses were unfaltering. When I have adequate information I plan to add Jim to “My Heroes.”

I am certain that I left the session a better person for having attended. It was thrilling to meet such special people and it was a great pleasure to be able to thank them personally for their service.

More about the seminar will be written in future posts. . . .