This is the last of four posts from Nancy Hubener Warner b. 1937
They all came home safe.
One brother, Doug, had joined the Seabees at age 18. He served in the Pacific building airstrips, barracks, etc. while fighting the Japanese. Doug never talked about the war or his part in it. When his ship arrived in San Francisco on his return home, he threw all of his memorabilia overboard and he hitch-hiked all the way back home to Framingham, Mass. in September of 1945. He worked for a short time at the Dixie Lee Diner as a short order cook.
Later, still carrying mental scars of the war and trying to discover what life had in store for him he moved to New Hampshire, married, went to college and had a family. He died in California in 1998 at the age of 75.
Another joined the Army and became a paratrooper, a member of the 11th Airborne, “the Angels”. He, too, served in the Pacific Theater in the battles of Luzon and Manila. “Following Manila’s liberation, the 11th Airborne Division launched a daring raid behind enemy lines and liberated 2,200 Allied POWs from the Los Banos Internment Camp. Rescue at Los Baños is the spellbinding survival story of more than two thousand American and Allied civilian prisoners of war—men, women, and children—held in the Philippines by the Japanese during World War II, and the elite 11th Airborne Division’s heart-pounding mission in a race against the clock to rescue them from behind enemy lines.”
While fighting on Okinawa he was chosen to be one of Gen. MacArthur’s personal body guards and was one of those who escorted the General to the shore where he was taken to the Battleship Missouri to sign the Japanese Surrender. We had heard about liberating a prison camp and General MacArthur, but didn’t understand the whole significance of either.
In January of ’46, Bill came home. After a year or two working odd jobs he found work at the Roxbury Carpet Company in Saxonville where my mother was working. He soon married and bought his first home on St. Lo Road in the new post-war subdivision at the Muster Field. He died in 2011 at the age of 91 in Florida.
A third brother, Alfred, served in Germany toward the end of the war, during the cleanup phase. He was drafted at the age of age 28. He passed away at age 84 in 2001.
Most every family had someone serving far away. We were all in it together. It was a time when we kids knew there was a war far away and that we had big brothers fighting there. About all we really knew was what we saw in the newsreels at the movies. We’d take the bus at the corner of Old Connecticut Path and Concord Street to the stop at the corner where Newbury’s store stood and make a mad dash to one of the three theaters…Gorman, St. George, or Hollis, hoping to get a seat on the front row! We got to see a feature show, a cartoon or two, a serial that insured we’d be back the next week, the world news and popcorn or candy. All for about 50 cents. Imagine!
We played “army” using the “fox holes” left after removal of trees in Wyman’s nursery across the street where lived on Burr Street. Even as little kids we sang songs like: “Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun”; “Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me”; “Coming in on a wing and a prayer”; “It’s a long way to Tipperary”; “Now is the hour” and many, many more.
Not long after the end of that war, another one was looming. In March of 1950 my brother Wayne, who was 17, joined the Army. Soon after, war broke out in Korea and he was sent into battle. He turned 18 in October 1950 and the following April 25, 1951 he was captured and sent to a prison camp in North Korea. Two years later on April 24, 1953 he was released in Operation Little Switch, the first group to be repatriated before the end of that war. He was 20 years old. You may remember the celebration when he came home. There was a big parade and he was given a new car by the people in Framingham and surrounding towns, presented to him by Mr. Cavanaugh, the principal of Saxonville School. Everyone was wearing Welcome Home tags that had been sold to make the day possible.
Times have changed. Wars will never again be fought in the same way as in those years. Those of us who remember are getting to be fewer in number.