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Ohio Department of Aging Press Release

April 9, 2013

Patriotism, support punctuate fourth installment of War Era Story Project

Though far from battle, those on the home front made a difference

Photo submitted by Helen Mesko shows employees at Western Automatic Machine Screw Co. in Elyria
Photo submitted by Helen Mesko shows employees at Western Automatic Machine Screw Co. in Elyria

COLUMBUS - The fourth installment of the War Era Story Project (www.aging.ohio.gov/news/storyprojects) released today by the Ohio Departments of Aging and Veterans Services turns the spotlight to the home front with a collection of 21 stories of men, women and children whose lives were impacted by World War II despite being far from the fighting. Stories include:

Nellie Ball, 73, Cincinnati - Mrs. Ball was a girl living in Amsterdam when the German army invaded the Netherlands. She describes the destruction and how her mother risked capture and death to feed her family.

Delbert Blickenstaff, M.D., Greenville - Dr. Blickenstaff worked in a national forest, a mental hospital and a farm. He was inspired to pursue medicine and volunteered for a nutrition experiment conducted by the Army.

Patricia Combs, 77, Cincinnati - Mrs. Combs was seven years old at the start of the war. She remembers her uncle volunteering as an air raid warden, air raid drills, rationing and other aspects of home life.

C. Catherine Crowley, 76, Centerville - In 1943, at age seven, Ms. Crowley was sent to live in a boarding school while her mother worked in a factory to support the war.

L. Lyle Dreibelbis, 93, Cincinnati - A mechanical engineer at Wright Field in Dayton, Mr. Dreibelbis developed a truck-based missile-launching system from an unexploded German bomb.

Geraldine Falardeau, 85, Parma - Mrs. Falardeau was a teenager living in Oahu, Hawaii, when the Japanese army attacked the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor.

Larry Gara, 90, Wilmington - Mr. Gara served three years in a federal prison for refusing to register for the draft, and took on several civil rights causes during the war.

Caliope Gialousis, 72, Campbell - Mrs. Gialousis was a young girl during the war, but remembers air raid drills and learning about the war via the radio, movies and magazines.

Alethia Green, 92, Columbus - Mrs. Green is the proud wife of one of the Tuskegee Airmen, Captain William W. Green, II. She describes how she and the other wives supported each other in raising their families.

Dorothy Jones, 93, Hamilton - Mrs. Jones shares several letters that her husband Fred wrote to her while he served with the U.S. Army, Sixth Division.

Carole M. Lanning, 77, Fostoria - Mrs. Lanning writes about a unique experience she had when a train carrying troops stopped in her hometown.

Gale and Angel Lumbatis, Lewisville - Though they were young and had not yet met, Mr. and Mrs. Lumbatis had similar experiences during the war.

Helen Mesko, 88, Grove City - Ms. Mesko took a job as an inspector at the Western Automatic Machine Screw Company in Elyria, Ohio in 1942 and later joined a government employment program for women.

Mary Morgan, 87, Yellow Springs - Ms. Morgan was 17 years old when the war started, and answered the call to support the war effort as an engineering aide at Wright Field, doing calculations for the aircraft engineers.

John Myers, Cincinnati - Mr. Myers' father was deferred from service due to his work as a fireman, and he had no brothers fighting abroad, but the war still affected his life in very important ways.

Mrs. Douglas Peters, Cedarville - Mrs. Peters describes how her father, a Greek immigrant to the U.S., became an American citizen. He was too old to serve in the military, but found ways to contribute.

Carl Michael Victory Reece, 67, Hamilton - In his story, "My Name is Victory," Mr. Reece describes how his father was overseas when he was born in 1945, and recounts some of his father's experiences.

Nancy Wilkey Somnitz and Jane Wilkey Tapassi, ages 72 and 77 - Mrs. Somnitz and Mrs. Tapassi recall family life with their mother, their grandmother, their aunt and a cousin. Peter Tamburro, 50, Columbus - Mr. Tamburro shares letters his grandmother sent to his father Raymond while he was overseas working on the restoration effort.

William Williams, 82, Perrysburg - Mr. Williams describes how his father and uncle changed jobs to support the war effort, and discusses growing up near a prisoner of war camp.

Patty Lee Ziskin, Dayton - Mrs. Ziskin was a young girl when her father left to fight in the war. She describes how and why her grandfather was never made aware of his son's death.

These stories join 87 others that were posted previously. The agencies received nearly 300 submissions and will continue to release them in small batches until all have been shared.

The War Era Story Project was a follow-up to the Department of Aging's award-winning 2009 Great Depression Story Project. Since this project was intended to explore Ohio's war-time experience, the Department teamed with the Ohio Department of Veterans Services to collect stories from veterans of World War II, as well as the men, women and children who held steady on the home front. The project garnered submissions from 284 individuals, including 21 who currently reside out of state or who did not provide location information. Ohio residents represent 50 different counties. Of the authors who provided an age, the oldest was 100 and the youngest was 25. The average age of the authors was 83.

About ODA - The Ohio Department of Aging works to ensure that Ohio is on the leading edge of innovation in responding to the growing and changing aging population. We work with state agencies, area agencies on aging and other local partners to help integrate aging needs into local plans and ensure that aging Ohioans have access to a wide array of high-quality services and supports that are person-centered in policy and practice. Our programs include the PASSPORT Medicaid waiver, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.


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