Reunited after a Wartime Separation

The Pacific during WWII

After his service to the U.S. Navy, S2 John Kanouff, Jr. made very persistent efforts to find his long lost wartime love. He tried for five long years to find Thelma Neal who he met in Melbourne, Australia where he was stationed as a gunner for the Armed Guard. They hoped to be married after the war.
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“The Sergeant York of WWII”

Allied invasion plans and German positions in Normandy
Allied invasion plans and German positions in Normandy

Jack Oliver is a Certified Public Accountant with Oliver and Associates from Fairmont, West Virginia who became actively involved in filing a petition on Harrison Summers’ behalf for a Medal of Honor. He spoke to us about Sergeant Harrison Summers and we would like to share some of the story with you.
Sergeant Summers is awarded D.S.C old newspaper clipping Harrison was born in Catawba near Rivesville. Around 1937, after attending East Fairmont High School, Mr. Summers served a tour where he had been stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii before re-enlisting in 1942 for WWII. Jack told us the reason he reenlisted was so that he could train to be a paratrooper; otherwise, he would return to the same duty he left. Once he was trained, he immediately began instructing at the paratrooper school in Ft. Benning, Georgia. Eventually, Mr. Summers received his assignment for Europe and was placed with the 101st Airborne Division (of the First Battalion, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment). They were stationed in England preparing to invade German-occupied Normandy.
On June 6, 2:30am (D-Day), Thousands of paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne and the 101st Airborne were lifted into France. As the assault force approached the coast, it encountered fog and antiaircraft fire, which forced some of the planes to break formation. Paratroopers from both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions missed their landing zones and were scattered over wide areas. For many, the initial struggle of combat was to find their units and approximately 1500 soldiers from the division were killed or captured. Flight commanders gave orders to jump at the wrong time causing some of the paratroopers to come down in the deep waters fatally injuring them. Harrison Summers was spared by a mishap. When his flight commander gave the order for the paratroopers to jump, the cargo that was to go first got lodged in the cargo door. Minutes went by before they got the bundle out. That offset the commander’s error just enough to place Summers in the proper destination to begin the scheduled raid.
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The Paper Clip

Paperclip Author LTC Richard Aamot speaking about his life as a boy in Norway during WWII.
Paperclip Author LTC Richard Aamot speaking about his life as a boy in Norway during WWII.
Olva and Gunhild Crone-Aamot had their only son, Olav, while living in Manhattan, New York, in January 22, 1929. They moved to Norway in 1936. His father was a metallurgical research engineer employed by Guggenheim Brothers. The family came to the United States in 1922, moved back to Norway in 1936 and settled in Ramstad, Baerum, now part of Oslo.

“The Paperclip”, is a book written by Olav Richard Crone-Aamot that is about his experience as a young boy living in Norway while being Nazi occupied. “Oba” became obsessed with making trouble for the Germans who overpowered Rauoey Island when his father was an artillery gunner for the defenders and became captured and imprisoned by the Germans. Nazis enforced laws upon residents that were entrenching and overbearing. They would force their way through their homes to make sure residents were cooperating. Continue reading “The Paper Clip”

May This Keep You Safe from Harm

Asa Davison with a Fairmont Student, Jeremiah.

It wasn’t until 1947 when Asa Davison returned home, he finished his education. In 1943, he left Dunbar High School in Fairmont to join the Army as part of the infantry. He completed basic training in Alabama and then boarded a ship for active duty to the South Pacific. All the white soldiers were on the upper deck of the ship and all the black soldiers were on lower deck. “We didn’t know they were up there and they didn’t know we were down there,” Davison explained. Continue reading “May This Keep You Safe from Harm”

Young Hearts

Curtis C-46 "Commando" in flight

In the early 40s, George Eltin Morris, at 18, had already tried a semester of college, left home and hitchhiked to Florida with a buddy for a while and worked in a factory. He, with three other high school basketball teammates decided to enlist in the Army Air Corps in 1942. Since George was intelligent in mechanical and mathematical skills, this would lead him to assignment as crew chief on C-46 and C-47 transport planes which were used for dropping troops and supplies to American and Allied forces in Europe.

This also led to an opportunity for him to continue to play basketball for the 313th Troop Carrier Squadron of the Ninth Air Force. In 1943, while still stationed in the United States, his team won seventy of seventy-one games. In Sicily, 1944, his team only lost one game and won the inter-service (Army-Navy) tournament.
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USS Quincy (CA-39)

USS Quincy CA-39
Charles Finley Carpenter was born in Wetzel County WV and moved to Fairview, Marion county as very young child. He graduated at Fairview High School in 1938. Charles (nicknamed “Chuck”) joined the navy in 1938. He was a machinist and petty officer on the USS Quincy CA-39 when the battleship was sunk by the Japanese in the battle of Savo Island off Gaudal Canal on August 8, 1942. He is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines.
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Renshaw Saved My Life- Paul McCue

Paul McCue

“I’ve always been an adventurer and to begin with, at around the age of sixteen, I was going to join the CCC…” (The Civilian Conservation Corps was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families as part of the New Deal.) “…but I wasn’t old enough. When I was old enough, the war broke, so I wanted to go to war. The Merchant Marines wouldn’t let me join because I had no experience, so I went across the street and signed up for the Navy and my Mother and Dad had to sign papers. I was not drafted.

I trained at Great Lakes, Illinois and went to Norfolk, Virginia for special training. Then I went to Camp Bradford (At first Camp Bradford was a training base for Navy Seabees, but in 1943 it was changed into a training center for the crews of LSTs or Landing Ship Tanks.) for special amphibious training and then we took shake down crews all over the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico”, explained Seaman 1st Class Paul McCue.

Norfolk, VA, showing Camp Little Creek, formerly Camp Bradford.

Camp Bradford was named by the U. S. after a Confederate Army officer. During World War II, Camp Bradford was about half of the present Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base. Between May 1943 and January 1944, over 100,000 troops were amphibiously polished at Bradford. Bradford’s beaches were alive with activity. Early in January 1944 Bradford took a deep breath and plunged into the vital LST program. Hundreds and hundreds of LSTs were manned by the thousands of men trained at Camp Bradford. Bradford’s training staff was comprised of Mediterranean assault veterans giving trainees the benefit of their earlier combat experience. A Secretary of the Navy letter in July 1945 disestablished the separate bases and established the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek with a commissioning date of July 30, 1945. In 1946 Little Creek was designated a permanent base.

“Then I was shipped to Jeffersonville, Indiana where I was put on an LST (Landing Ship Tank) that was 377 feet long and 55 feet wide. It was launched from Jeffersonville Indiana Shipyards in 1944 then we went down the Ohio through Mississippi River to New Orleans, Louisiana.

At Todd-Johnson Shipyard we took up a non-sea going assault boat that filled the deck of our ship. We got up in the middle of the night as a special skeleton crew to get through all those locks and the canal. Once we were through the Panama Canal, we dumped the boat off at one of the islands and from there, this is where all the action started, at all those islands south of the equator- assault landings that we handled more like Marines rather than Sailors because that took special amphibious training. Moving from islands close to New Guinea and Solomon, we moved on up into the Philippine Islands.

Then in the Philippine Islands, I remember very distinctly, we were somewhere near San Pedro Bay” (The Bohol Sea, also called the Mindanao Sea). “While in an edge of convoy, we were getting ready to make an invasion. I was on watch at the time on the starboard side in a gun tub with earphones on under watch to report anything I could see. All of the sudden, I heard an explosion coming from the opposite side of me- the port side.
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Dog Tags, a Spoon and the Holy Bible

Louis Trupo holding his shadow box.

A World War II Veteran Louis J. “Zeke” Trupo of Bridgeport escaped a near fatal Japanese sniper bullet by deflection from his Bible and spoon that was stashed in his shirt pocket just above his heart.

Louis grew up in Clarksburg and as a student of Salem College enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942. He served as a radio/telephone communications specialist in the Pacific. With the Fourth Marine Division, he survived four battles. The first two, ROI-NAMUR in the Marshall Islands and SAIPAN of the Mariana Islands, he was not injured. In July 1944, at Tinian in the Mariana Islands (the base where the allies loaded B-29s with the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki August 1945 leading to the empire’s eventual surrender and the war’s end), American forces were actively seeking control of the island when Trupo was sitting in the command post on the last day of the battle and all of the sudden he felt a blow to his chest that knocked him over. He realized he needed to do as he was taught, so he stayed down and crawled into a dry cesspool where he remained until a fellow Marine carried Trupo out to safety. From there, he was airlifted to Saipan, where a corpsman would remove the remainder of the bullet from his chest. “The bullet split in two when it hit my dog tags around my neck and a spoon that was in my shirt pocket”, Trupo said.
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Not My Best Christmas

Charles M Bunner

After basic training at Ft Jackson SC, MSG E-8 Charles Bunner completed AMMO school at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in 1955 then served in South Korea as an E-3 and E-4 in two separate ammunition companies of the Eighth Army.  In 1956, he was assigned to an ammunition company at Ft. Knox, Kentucky.

It was near Christmas of 1956 that Charles was on his way home from Ft. Knox, Kentucky when he had to stop to have his 1951 Plymouth repaired. He got off Route near Louisville eventually correcting his route but it was late, pushing 3am, and he began to get very drowsy so he asked his passenger who was a fellow West Virginian from Elkins to take over the wheel. So, he drifted off as a passenger in his own vehicle while being taxied.

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