A Christmas at War (Gainesville Sun)—The jeep carries Lt. Frank Towers, the driver, and Towers’ two guards along the shortcut: a logging trail that takes them directly over the hill instead of the circuitous route around. For 27-year-old Towers, a liaison officer in the National Guard, it’s one of many trips from 30th Division headquarters, four miles in the rear, to Malmedy, Belgium, named from the Latin A malo mundarum, “the place of bad confluence,” where floodwaters long ago leaped over banks and pounded into the city.
Amid Loss, 95-Year-Old WWII Vet Finds ‘Salvation’ in Volunteering (Senior Times magazine)—Toward the end of World War II, Navy plane mechanic Bob Ernst was stationed at Kaneohe Bay near Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, helping assemble Lockheed PV-1 Venturas that had been shipped in parts from the U.S. mainland for use in the Pacific.
A Plumber at UF and in WWII, Gainesville Man Keepin’ On as Centenarian (Senior Times magazine)—In his Gainesville home, Tilden Counts Booth rocks in a living-room chair as he walks through his 10 decades on Earth.
Arrival of Nina, Pinta Attracts a Crowd (Chattanooga Times Free Press)—A crowd along Chattanooga’s riverfront watched Thursday as history sailed under the Olgiati Bridge and up the Tennessee River.
At Pearl Harbor, Navy Musician Hung His Horn for a Stretcher (Senior Times magazine)—Music floats through the air of the Bloch Center arena near the docks of Pearl Harbor on this Dec. 6 night. There, the bands from the battleships Pennsylvania and Tennessee and the old transport and support ship Argonne are playing in the latest round of the months-long competition Battle of Music.
Before Having Gainesville’s First Integrated Waiting Room, Doctor Soldiered in the Air and Sea (Senior Times magazine)—These days, at 90 years old, Dr. Edward Kissam doesn’t remember too well. But by his side, his longtime companion and his daughter help guide the memories, articulating the accomplishments of a man, a soldier, a peacemaker, a casual poet who has seen the tragedies of war, the triumphs of evolving medicine and, perhaps most meaningful to the Florida faithful, the foundation of Gator football glory.
Behind the Search for an Apology in the Infamous ‘Groveland Boys’ Case (TIME magazine)—The story of the Groveland Boys might not surprise anyone familiar with the miscarriages of justice that sometimes marked race relations in the early 20th century. The case started in 1949, when four black men were accused of raping a white woman outside Groveland, Fla. One was killed by a mob a few days later, and the other three were tried and convicted. But thanks to Thurgood Marshall pursuing the case when he was executive director of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial.
Fate Guides Combat Engineer Safely Through WWII and Gives Growth into Manhood (Senior Times magazine)—Inside the towering stack of retirement-community condos, through the hotel-like lobby with no desk clerk, up the elevator with a pin-your-own-announcement bulletin board, down the hallway with pictures, American flags and other personal flair at the thresholds, and beyond one door is probably the most well-organized of all the condos, at least judging by Jerry Barshov’s office. Falling squarely into place atop his desk is an array of this-and-thats, including two phones to two landlines: “A great deal — 30 bucks a month for both phones. That works for me.”
From Iceland to Iwo and a Nixon Encounter, Marine Trudged Through World War II (Senior Times magazine)—Gathered around the island of Iwo Jima are many American ships, the total climbing to almost 500, and aboard one, a transport ship named Mormac Port, warrant officer Clif Cormier heads topside to watch his fellow Marines charge onto the volcanic-ash hellscape.
From Support Role, Vet Saw Joys and Horrors of World War II (Senior Times magazine)—Bob Overton and three other members of the 217th Military Police Company settle down for the night in a hotel lounge just over the German border. Behind them: the 10-months-long trail of bloodshed that expelled Nazi power from France and the Low Countries. Suddenly, two infantrymen stomp drunkenly into the hotel and start to smash glass breakables with their rifles.
Hurt in Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, Marine Hops Out of Plane in Support of Injured Soldiers (Senior Times magazine)—A veteran of the Pacific named George H.W. Bush jumped out of an airplane on June 12, 2014, for his 90th birthday — just like he had done for his 85th, his 80th, and five other times, including when the Japanese shot down his Avenger torpedo bomber during World War II. Almost exactly two years after Bush’s last jump, on June 4, 2016, Gainesville got its own Pacific vet jumper when Marine Bob Gasche, perhaps the city’s most well-known soldier, leaped out at 13,000 feet over Virginia Beach in tandem with a Navy SEAL.
‘I’m No Hero. The Heroes Are Still There.’ (Senior Times magazine)—The Sirius station devoted to Frank Sinatra croons in the dark house — the lamps are set to switch on at other times — that stands along a dirt road in rural Levy County. “Make it one for my baby,” Ol’ Blue Eyes sings, “and one more for the road.”
In Pearl Harbor Attack, Unarmed Navy Flyer Took Cover But Would Go On Offensive in the Pacific (Senior Times magazine)—It’s the night of Dec. 6, 1941, and Cass Phillips and friend Bruce Smithy are winding down the Saturday evening out with two lady pals. The two men, quite new to adulthood, are Navy radiomen for PBY Catalina seaplanes, which take off and land aquatically and patrol for enemy boats and subs with machine guns, depth charges and bombs.
Longtime Backbone of UF Chemistry Department Had Role in Defeat of Japan (Senior Times magazine)—When Morris Mixson started working as a stockroom clerk in the University of Florida’s chemistry department in 1948, he did so under chemistry curator Burton Otte. Glad to have work after his time in the war and a few odds and ends after, Mixson became a protégé to Otte. He learned all the intricacies of the job, a behind-the-scenes role that keeps the chemistry department afloat.
One of Marines’ First Women Helped Pave Way for Military Acceptance (Senior Times magazine)—It’s 1942, or maybe early 1943, and in the basement of the Department of the Treasury in Washington D.C., June Whitehurst can’t help but stare at an unfashionable older woman walking toward her. The hair, the cotton hose, the dress, the flat shoes — all of it’s “just terribly old-fashioned,” Whitehurst observes. “I wouldn’t have been caught dead in flat shoes. Even though I walked to work, I wore heels all the time.
One of Three Living Triple Nickle Smokejumpers Recalls Putting Out Fires from Japan’s Balloon Bombs (Senior Times magazine)—Pearl Harbor stands out as the United States’ biggest homeland catastrophe during World War II, of course, but afterward, other close-to-home threats persisted.
Pearl Harbor Navy Man Narrowly Escaped USS Oklahoma, Went on to Fight Throughout Pacific (Senior Times magazine)—Duane Reyelts is stretched out deeply asleep in his bunk on this fresh Sunday morning, having stayed on duty until 4 a.m. the night before, when an alarming wake-up stings his ears. “All hands, man your battle stations!” the ship’s address system demands.
Pearl Harbor Survivor Who Later Soothed Soldiers with Music on Guadalcanal Recalls the Attack (Senior Times magazine)—Francis “Dutch” Scholtz played a late gig with his dance band that Saturday at an officers club and didn’t get back to his barracks until 1 a.m. This was nothing new for the skilled pianist and private in the U.S. Army Air Forces. Officers would often have their wives with them there on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, and the couples’ cocktail parties needed some background music.
Prejudice Holds Tuskegee Airman Back, But Not from His Wings or Forever (Senior Times magazine)—Lt. Col. Phelps. Perhaps the figure is an allegory for the discrimination that black soldiers went through during World War II. Or the struggles, past and present, that all black Americans are born into. Or the uphill battle that is life in its most general form.
Sailor Helped Carry Lost Brothers’ Memory Through WWII (Senior Times magazine)—On a pleasant weekday afternoon in his humble, charming Gainesville home, Robert McAlpine flips through a portfolio of drawings finished some 70 years ago. They bring a touch of horror to this peaceful day: helmeted men stationed at hulking guns, planes shredded to pieces in midair, sailors bobbing in the water beside a fire-engulfed ship.
Searching for ‘Town Treasure’ (Patch)—What makes someone a Town Treasure? Must they have fought in World War II? Perhaps they had to have once been an employee of the now defunct Coats and Clark Threadmill in Austell? Dirt roads, cotton gins and canning food for winter—must someone have experienced those firsthand?
‘The Forgotten War’: New Gainesville Monument Gives Remembrance to Korean War Veterans (Senior Times magazine)—When Betty Ann Means’ husband, Korean War veteran Samuel Means, got sick a few years ago, she began to take him to Alachua County’s military monuments.
There for Two D-Days and a Nuke, Sailor Was ‘Gung-Ho to Go’ (Senior Times magazine)—William “Bill” Wilcox doesn’t dump his storied history on you all at once (to get it, you have to coax pieces out one at a time), nor does he ever stray from meek when telling it. His voice keeping soft, his hearing working against him, Wilcox eventually steers into his magnum opus — at least in terms historical name recognition.
The Troubling History of ‘Physical Descriptions’ of Women in the News (TIME magazine)—In December 1944, the Associated Press informed people around the world that student Gloria Jeanne Heller had been forced out of Louisiana State University after distributing a leaflet that “advocated free love,” as then-LSU President William Hatcher put it.
World War II Airman Readied Planes for D-Day, Other Major Operations (Senior Times magazine)—On Ponce de Leon Avenue in Lake City, Carlos Crews lives on a mini farm, complete with donkeys, goats, geese, chickens, ducks, oranges, lemons and alligators, if you count the one that once snuck into the pond.
World War II Fighter Pilot Chances Death in Japanese Skies and Later Becomes Local Leader (Senior Times magazine)—Anna Ebersole and her husband, Bill, settle into chairs along their dining table, freshly clear of newspaper and mail to provide a blank field for photo albums, commemorative military caps, a .50 caliber bullet, and other war souvenirs that reflect a time when Bill was a mere teenager playing fighter pilot.
WWII Line Runner Takes Land Mine Blast But Finds Many Blessings After (Senior Times magazine)—The date is Nov. 20, 1944, and Charles Earnest is helping run telephone line from a barn that’ll serve as a regimental headquarters for the 26th Infantry Division.
WWII Sailor Helped in Normandy, Iwo Jima, Okinawa Invasions and Took Kamikaze Hit (Senior Times magazine)—Seaman 1st Class Lionel Capoldo manned his post aboard mid-sized boats that supported troop landings during the first day, the first hour, the first minute and on, of the Omaha Beach, Iwo Jima and Okinawa invasions. Entering these melees, Capoldo’s superiors told him and the other sailors to expect the worst — up to 95 percent casualties at Omaha, for example.