Note: I married into the Jucker family. The three brothers and their sister were Holocaust survivors, but this post is about my father, who served in the Army during World War II.
Today is Memorial Day, and for the first time I’m thinking about it from the perspective of my father, who recently passed away. He told us over and over again his many stories of his time during the war. Of course, after the 100th time we were telling him “no more.” But today I think of him and his stories, and I think I’ll share one with you.
Dad went to Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, OK. He trained as a flight navigator.
As a side note, he would go see his girlfriend in town each weekend, and this man would take him to her house, for he lived near by. My father thought he was the bookkeeper for the school. It ended up he was the owner. He also signed his diploma, and his name was J. Paul Getty. How about that??? Too bad it wasn’t on a check.
Anyway, after he finished his training he went to work at Ford’s Willow Run Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The B-24 bombers would roll off the factory line, and he and the team with whom he worked would meet the plane and take it up. He would tell us the “meat wagon” was always below waiting for them, but they always made it down, for they did a great job at Willow Run. (link to video at end of post)
One of the pilots who flew some times was a man named Charles Lindbergh, and my father flew with him on many occasions. Dad’s favorite story was Lindberg always ate olives when he flew (there were no bathrooms on the planes). One day, my dad went on the plane for inspection and there were the olives. He was hungry so he ate them. He ate Lindbergh’s olives! Lindberg was furious, but he liked flying with my father, and he always requested “Goldie” (his nickname), for he knew he did thorough inspections and then would never leave the plane unattended until Lindbergh arrived.
Dad had a deferment during WWII, for he was a test pilot, which was considered essential duty to the war effort. They wore civilian clothes. One day in Michigan he was in a diner with some friends, and a woman came by and spit on him, for her son was overseas and Dad was in a diner. That day he went to the Army recruiting office and signed up, even though he did not have to do so.
He went to boot camp and then onto another camp to wait his turn to ship out. His battalion was getting ready to leave and the commanding officer called him to his office. He said “Goldie, if you want something, you come to ME, NOT the President of the United States!” “You are not shipping out today, you are mowing grass!” My Dad mowed the grass for 3 weeks straight. Here is what happened….
When Dad flew with Lindbergh there were always big dinners and fanfare wherever they arrived. On one occasion they went to Washington DC and there was a big dinner. My father met a man who told him if he ever went into the military to let him know. So he did. Dad had no idea what the man did for the military, but apparently he was so high up he was able to guide Dad’s journey through the Army, where he became a Sargeant. Sadly the battalion saw quite a bit of action and many, if not all, were killed. This man saved my father’s life, and I guess, in turn, was responsible in a way for my sister and I being here. Dad told us the stories over and over, but I cannot remember now the man’s name.
Anyway, I’ve written more than I thought I would, but I wanted to memorialize and honor my father and all those who have served today with this bit of stories from my Dad.
Dad, I was and still am so proud to be your daughter. I miss you, and I love you.
PS: A video of the Willow Run plant is found here.