December 8, 2011 by Kristi Young
The following is an experience that Mont W. Warner had in 1944.
“One cold winter day somewhere in southwestern Germany we were engaged in a hot artillery dual with German 88s. During a brief lull in our part of the battle, to escape the incoming rounds, I jumped into a foxhole and landed on another man. He was lying down reading a book. I could hardly believe it and asked him what kind of book merited reading at a time like this. He said that he girlfriend in Maryland had sent it to him with instructions to read it as soon as possible. He then said ‘I’m trying to get it read before they kill me.’ He showed the book to me and it was The Book of Mormon. At that time I knew the angels were round about us and I felt the still small voice. I told him about myself and explained the book to him and from that day on I taught him the gospel.
All the enemy fire missed us and by the end of the war he was ready for baptism. I contacted an LDS Chaplain, Elder Mann, who I had known in the mission field before the war. Elder Mann baptized him in a cold creek and I confirmed him a member of the Church. I don’t remember the boy’s full name, but Everett was part of it. He was our battery medic so we just called him ‘pill roller.’ I was the only Mormon in the whole ouftit and that particular foxhole was the only one containing a Book of Mormon and a serious reader, so I’m sure our coming together was no coincidence. I’ve always hoped that little Mormon girl in Maryland was as happy as I was when her soldier friend joined the Church. I’m sure it was a direct answer to her prayers.” (MSS 2350 no. 256)
November 10, 2011 by Kristi Young
Lund Stucki, a soldier during World War Two, wrote a letter to his fiancee about the importance of liberty. Stucki died four months after penning the letter. Excerpts follow:
Liberty to me means a lot of important things–and a lot of little things, too. Important things like Valley Forge, Gettysburg, the Alamo, Verdun, the Meuse, Arragone and Pearl Harbor–things like the Constitution, allegiance to the flag, the Monroe Doctrine, the inalienable rights of every man, whatever color or creed, to do anything he darn pleases, as long as he doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others–the right to live and love and laugh and worship as I please without being slapped around and told to do this or do that. It means being able to wake up every morning with sunshine in my eyes, light that shines on free men everywhere with the same opportunities I have. It means everything we’ve been taught through years of school–justice, equality, tolerance, and most important of all, a chance to be somebody and to do something really worthwhile.
Liberty means little things like hamburgers, chocolate marshmallow nut sundaes, being able to drive as far as I please, being able to go with the girl I love and not wonder how long it’ll be before I’ll be living in memories again. It means being able to visit with the folks back home, talk with my friends and know that they’ll always be there and not scattered all over the world on some foreign battle field. It means buying things at the store without figuring up the points it’s going to cost, getting a pair of shoes without stamp 17, thinking in terms of peace instead of war. . . .
Those are just a few of the things that liberty and this war mean to me. We’ve fought for liberty before in 1776 and 1812. We fought to keep unity in 1865, for liberty and democracy in 1917, and now in 1943 we’re fighting for everything we’ve lived for and thought worthwhile. All down through the years men have fought and died for what they thought was right. And now it’s my turn to fight for the things I love. I don’t figure on dying–a fellow can’t fight when he’s dead. If I were to give a toast I’d say: Here’s to you Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, U.S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Admiral Dewey, General Pershing and Douglas MacArthur. And here’s to you, Johnny Jones and Bill Roberts, Jack O’Malley and every boy who’s fighting for the cause of liberty. And here’s to the girls we leave behind. May they love us, laugh with us, and wait for us. (MSS 2350)
October 12, 2011 by Kristi Young
The following is from Delbert Nebeker’s Veterans’ History contribution:
I’ll never forget our fifth mission, it was August 10th, 1944, against Nagasaki. That night was a real doozie. It was the location of the greatest stell plant in Japan and was located on the southwest part of the Island of Honshu. On August 8th we had flown over the “Hump,” the Himalayan Mountains from our main base at Khragpur, India, to our forward base A-7 (Ping Shan) in China. On the 9th we spent the refueling the aircraft, loading the bombs and ammunition and checking the guns, etc.We had our briefing that evening at 20:00 hours then went to bed. Wake-up call was at 02:00 hours with breakfast at 03:00, and take-off scheduled for 04:00 on the 10th of August 1944. We were rolling by 04:05 and took off without incident. Approximately one and one-half hours after take off, in western China, our radar set became inoperable. After discussion we decided to continue the mission because of the importance of getting as many bombs on the target as possible. We knew there were two other planes ahead of us and the fires from their bombs would locate the target for us. In crossing the coast of China to Japan we had a fire in #3 engine. The engine kept operating but if it had kept burning and gotten to the wing tank right behind the engine, we would have blown up. It took about a half hour to get that out and again avoided an abort. . . .Just after midnight we located the target and could see the fires burning. It was storming like a sun-of-a-gun, a little clear sky broke out and the bombardier was supposed to take some star shots so we would know exactly where we were. He looked around and said “Hell, I don’t recognize any of these stars.” The sky closed in and we never had another chance to shoot anything. We dropped our bombs and turned and proceeded north for one hundred miles, before picking up our northwest hest heading for our base at A-7 (Ping Shan). Before long we got into a severe electrical storm, lightening was striking the plane about every 30 seconds or so, and then jumping off the wing tips or the stabilizer into the clouds. Blue flames of static electricity build-up were flowing with the rain across the windshield, the windows and the blisters. It was an eerie sight. It is well known in airplanes, it’s called St. Elmo’s fire. (MSS 2350, No. 1835)
July 29, 2011 by Kristi Young
As told by Thales A. “Tad” Derrick–As a young boy growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah in the 1940s, Ab Jenkins, the racing mayor of Salt Lake was my hero. (His race car, the Mormon Meteor III, was a wondrous machine for the time. Mayor Jenkins was interested in endurance racing and ran his car on the salt flats west of Salt Lake City. He set records for 24 hours and 48 hours. Over the period of his racing career, Ab Jenkins always gave credit to his keeping of “The Word of Wisdom” as the factor that allowed him to stay alert and sharp at high racing speeds over a long period of time. I vowed I would follow his example.) My interests in the 1950s while at South High School, included cars and jet aircraft. I helped organize a car club that we named the “Meteors” in honor of Ab Jenkins.
The interest in aircraft led me to United States Air Force pilot training. I graduated first in my pilot training class at Greenville, Mississippi in August of 1957. I selected fighter aircraft as the type I would fly. Soon I was a qualified fighter pilot flying the F-100 Super Sabre, the first aircraft to exceed the speed-of-sound in level flight. A bit later as an instructor in the F-100, I chose the name “Meteor” as my call-sign, wsed whenever I was leading a flight of other fighters.
The United States was embroiled in the Vietnam conflict by the mid-1960s. The squadron to which I was assigned was the 481st Tactical Fighter Squadron, part of the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing, stationed at Cannon AFB, New Mexico. The 481st was named the top squadron in Tactical Air Comman, and as such was selected to be one of the first full squadron units sent to Vietnam. The squadron, “The Crusaders,” deployed to Vietnam in June 1965 flying their F-100s across the Pacific Ocean.
Not long after arriving in Vietnam, the squadron decided to adopt the long standing fighter practice of naming aircraft. Pilots chose names that reflected their personalities or honored their wives or girlfriends i.e. “The Shadow” or “Pretty Penny,” etc. I chose to name my F-100D “The Mormon Meteor.” (MSS 2350 no. 1158)
July 1, 2011 by Kristi Young
The Fourth of July celebrates the signing of The Declaration of Independence, but it is also a time for us to remember those who have helped to keep The United States of America free. David L. Casey is one of those who fought in the service of his country. The following is his account of a combat experience in Vietnam.
“I was on a mission with the 118th Assault Helicopter Company in September of 1967. I was a medic but the only place I felt a medic could be functional with a flight of helicopters was being with them and sitting behind a machine gun. So I was a doorgunner/medic. I had to use the machine gun on plenty of occasions. The guys felt more secure with me there. We were carrying ARVNs (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) from one landing zone (LZ) to another while they were searching for the enemy.
“It was about 5 p.m. when they called us to pick them up. We started our descent into the LZ with a Stagger Left Formation. When the lead ship was about 10 feet above the ground we started receiving heavy enemy fire. I could see the bullets and RPG’s flying as we landed. I was the inside gunner and had to hold my fire as the ARVN’s tried to get on our ships. They weren’t able to get on because every time they tried they were shot and fell to the ground. While they were laying on the ground I spotted an enemy close to the ship across from me. The other ship was unable to fire on him due to it’s position. I fired my machine gun to give them protection. While I was doing this I could hear over the helmet headset that my crew-chief had been shot in the arm. He told me to hold my position and that he would be OK. Then I heard the peter pilot (Co-pilot) say they’re firing an RPG at us. The RPG hit the skid and exploded wounding the co-pilot in the legs and abdomen below his chicken plate. I was told to still hold because we were going to lift off. We started to lift off and I saw an NVA soldier taking aim at me as we were starting to fly. I brought my machine gun around as much as I could while still firing. My ammo ran out and I could see him smiling. I was telling the pilot ‘break left, break left!’ and as he did the NVA fired and put three bullet holes under my seat into the fuel cell area, which didn’t come through the floor. We were unable to fly any further than Cu Chi because our chopper had taken fo many hits and we had wounded to get to the hospital.
“When we got to Cu Chi I took the co-pilot out of the chopper and put him on a hospital gurney, then I got my crew-chief into the ER. After all this we finally had a chance to look over the aircraft. Not only did I have bullet holes under me, but all the way from the tail boom right next to me on my right side. I knew then that God had something for me to do. At the time I didn’t know what that was, but I was truly grateful to Him. My aircraft commander (AC) had nominated me for a Bronze Star with Vdevice and Air Medal with Vdevice. The Vdevice stands for Valor. When the 145th CAB commander heard about me he was upset and talked to my battalion surgeon. The contention was that a Medic wasn’t supposed to man a gun, but to stay away from combat. My battalion surgeon told me if I took the awards I wouldn’t fly again. I decided I would rather be there for the guys than to get the medals.” (MSS 2350 no. 1351)