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Ohio Department of Aging Press Release

May 22, 2013

Fifth installment of the War Era Story Project commemorates Memorial Day and the 69th Anniversary of D-Day

At sea and on the ground, Ohioans made a difference in Europe

Photo submitted by Caroll Roden shows the tank crew of her father, Harry T. Masram.
Photo submitted by Caroll Roden shows the tank crew of her father, Harry T. Masram.

COLUMBUS - The fifth installment of the War Era Story Project (www.aging.ohio.gov/news/storyprojects) released today by the Ohio Departments of Aging and Veterans Services commemorates Memorial Day and the 69th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944, with a collection of 27 stories of Ohioans who participated in or supported the invasion of Normandy and the subsequent march across Europe to defeat Hitler. Stories include:

Charlotte Blake, Fairfield - Mrs. Blake's husband Jim was taken prisoner by Germans, but escaped and lived with a Czech family until the fighting ended.

Kent Cahlander, Columbus - Mr. Cahlander interviewed three men who participated in the invasion of Normandy and a woman who was among the first women to enter Europe with Allied Forces.

Kay Crockett, 88, Milford - Mrs. Crockett's father was a WWI veteran and wanted to re-enlist, but couldn't. Later, he was contacted by the FBI about security of the defense plant at which he worked.

Robert DeVilbiss, Westerville - Mr. DeVilbiss describes coordinated German air strikes on U.S. and British air fields in Belgium, Holland and France in January 1945.

Leo Helentjaris, 89, Celina - Mr. Helentjaris' ship was sunk off Utah Beach during the D-Day invasion. He returned home and taught himself construction by visiting building sites.

Ruth Hosack, 74, Carrollton - One of Ms. Hosack's brothers was in France, and his unit was betrayed by their host family. Her other brother witnessed the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Roger Hubley, Mason - Mr. Hubley's father Rankin Dale Hubley was knocked out by an explosion and separated from his unit. His knowledge of Ohio sports would reunite him with his American brothers.

Ray Inderhees, 90, Cincinnati - Mr. Inderhees went to France and engaged the German army in several battles. He describes living conditions for the Allied fighters.

Richard C. Johnston, 90, Grove City - Mr. Johnston served in Italy on a machine gun crew and witnessed many of the atrocities of war. Complications from an earlier surgery sent him home just before D-Day.

Joan Jones, Apple Valley - Mrs. Jones' father Harley Sims was a gunner on a howitzer team in Europe. He describes military life, as well as being welcomed by the locals in France.

William E. Kuhrt, Fairfield - Mr. Kuhrt arrived in France one month after D-Day as a replacement soldier. He stayed with Patton's 3rd Army through France until he was wounded.

Garl McHenry, 87, New Carlisle - Mr. McHenry flew 31 missions over Germany and France and details two extraordinary missions where his plane was almost shot down.

Donald McKillop, 91, Oxford - Mr. McKillop joined a harbor craft company and arrived in Europe on D-Day. He also served in the Omaha Beach invasion as harbor master.

Victor F. Musial, 88, Lorain - Mr. Musial shares a speech he gave at the 5th Armored Division Memorial ceremony in 2012 outlining the division's combat innovations and role in Germany, France and Luxembourg.

Charlie Napier, 86, Lebanon - Mr. Napier and his four brothers served in WWII. His oldest brother was wounded on D-Day and later killed. Another brother transported troops during the D-Day invasion.

Robert Newell, 90, Washington Court House - Mr. Newell's ship was saved from shelling by an Air Force pilot who died drawing fire away from the ship. Each crewman received a keepsake of the incident.

Richard P. Nicholas, Jr., 92, Carlisle - Mr. Nicholas earned the Purple Heart when he took a piece of shrapnel in his shoulder. The same piece of shrapnel that wounded him killed a friend.

Tom Oatney, Dayton - Mr. Oatney's father Neil flew 35 missions in Europe and in one, bailed out and found his way back to base with help of the French Resistance.

Geraldine Powers, 89, Beachwood - Mrs. Powers was a newlywed in 1943 who left her life and job to follow her husband through training. He was to ship out right before D-Day, but fate had different plans.

Robert Wendell Richey, 92, Georgetown - Mr. Richey was a crew chief in the Middle East and European theaters and flew missions on different planes, including the "Boomerang."

Donald James Robinson, 89, Cincinnati - A fortunate case of the mumps kept Mr. Robinson from being in the first wave at D-Day. He fought at the Bulge, where his tank crew was taken prisoner.

Caroll Roden, Cincinnati - Mrs. Roden's father Harry T. Masram was on a tank crew in the "Spearhead" regiment, which led many drives in France, Belgium and Germany.

Gary Sperling, 62, Cleveland - Mr. Sperling's father Norman was in a reserve battalion in France in 1944. His convoy was hit by a German pilot in an old American plane, and his unit barely missed a Thanksgiving ambush.

Cynthia Stephenson, 63, Vandalia - Mrs. Stephenson's father Harry L. Roberts was featured in an article that the family believes appeared in the French edition of Stars & Stripes.

Raymond Tamburro, 85, Cleveland - Mr. Tamburro was drafted in 1946 for the restoration effort in Europe. He worked in France and supervised two German prisoners.

Eugene Yarger, Bellville - His son was born the same day Mr. Yarger shipped out for Europe. His plane was shot down during the Battle of the Bulge, and he was missing in action for three days.

Jane B. Young, 87, Centerville - Mrs. Young's brother narrowly escaped a plane crash in Germany. Her other brother was a Navy seal and mined the beach at Normandy the day before the attack.

These stories join more than 100 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 submitting stories 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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