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Ohio Department of Aging Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

My Words - April 2013

Though far from battle, those on the home front felt the impact of WWII
Excerpts from the War Era Story Project

While battles were waging in far-away places, countless men, women and child felt the impact of war and even supported the war effort from the safety of their home towns here in America. For a view of what it was like to hold steady on the home front, here are some excerpts from the latest installment of the War Era Story Project.

C. Catherine Crowley, 76, of Centerville, lived in a boarding school while her mother worked in a factory to support the war.

"It was 1943 and I was living with my mother in Chicago, happily sharing a room with her in the home of a Swedish family. I remember the air raid sirens and all the lights of Champlain Avenue going dark, and all of us being very quiet until the "all clear" was sounded. And as a little girl of seven, I was fascinated by the pretty flags with stars on them on some neighbor's windows. None of this alarmed my innocent self until the day that my mother told me I was going to live in a boarding school with the nuns, as she was taking a job in the war factory. And so, off I went for four years, war years, living with little girls who cried every night for their fathers, some of whom were killed or injured in that far-off war.

"But we were little girls, lovingly sheltered by the sisters from the horrors of war in far off Europe. We never saw the news reels or heard of the news on the radio. I was blissfully unaware. And then one day, I received a letter from my mother telling me that Uncle Pete had been killed in France, riding in a jeep that hit a land mine... that is the story I remembered. And I remember every night all of us girls praying for the soldiers, many of whom were fathers of the little girls who shared my life with the nuns."

L. Lyle Dreibelbis, 93, of Cincinnati, was a mechanical engineer assigned to the rocket lab at Wright Field in Dayton during the war, and saw a unique opportunity to contribute to the effort.

Holding steady on the home front."One morning, on my way to work, I picked up a newspaper that had a picture of a V-1 (Buzz-Bomb) dud that had landed in London. I suggested to my Colonel that I be sent to London to pick up five of these duds and bring back for study. He thought that was a good idea and left immediately. He came back with five, which were disassembled; drawings were made, and an order was placed for 250 units with Willys' Overland.

"These were tested at a site just east of what is now Destin, Florida. To launch the winged missile, rockets were used to propel a sled along 600-foot inclined rails. The failure rate was about 25 percent.

"I had a concept of launching the missile from a truck, so that a system would work like artillery. You would launch a few missiles, then move to a new location and quickly launch more ... This method of launching missiles and some aircraft is still used today. This was the most exciting and self-satisfying job of my entire career."

Alethia Green, 92, of Columbus, is the proud widow of one of the Tuskegee Red Tails, and recalls how she and the other military wives supported each other.

"We wives had a tremendous job on the home front. For instance, taking care of the children, paying bills and budgeting were very hard. I became quite a household engineer myself. Being a soldier's wife is not an easy job for anyone. Much was required of me; however, I made it through it all by the grace of God. Church, faith, community, neighbors, family and support groups like the Officers' Wives Club were invaluable to me.

"My prayer would be for communities to support the wives and children in the states while their husbands are serving our country. There should be a way for nonmilitary people to connect with military people to be a support system. Child care, food, monetary support for emergency situations, invitations for holiday meals, listening ears, positive and constructive advice and prayers are a few suggestions on how non-military people could be of assistance."


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