Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit Tell A Friend Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites
Life Arts

How a WW2 Twist of Fate Saved my Dad

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Meryl Ann Butler       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   22 comments, 2 series

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) , Add Tags  (less...)
Add to My Group(s)

Interesting 5   Well Said 4   Must Read 3  
View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H4 11/10/13

Become a Fan
  (85 fans)

Ralph Butler in Italy, age 21.
(Image by Photo courtesy Ralph Butler.)
  Permission   Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -

My dad, Ralph Butler, is a member of a rare breed: he is a WW2 veteran. At 90 years old, he's still smart, clever, funny and active, and he's outlived all the other males in his family. He's also been lucky. And he was well-fed by my mom, who was a great cook - - and who, along with her Aunt Dixie, was touting health foods long before they were popular. He always said he married Mom for her fabulous chocolate cake, which, he complains, she stopped making after the wedding. But maybe that's his secret to being one of just a million WW2 veterans left. And that number gets smaller by about 600 every day.

Ralph Butler, age 90, still standing 6'2..
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

- Advertisement -
At the end of WW2 there were over 16 million veterans. But in the early 1940's there was hardly even an American military - at the beginning of the decade, the US Army ranked 17th in the world, after Romania. And there wasn't a separate Air Force, yet.

After Dad received his letter of "Greetings" from President Roosevelt, he joined the Army Air Corps because he wanted to be a pilot -- but colorblindness kept him on the ground.

In Corsica he debriefed recon pilots. They were flying the fastest planes in the sky, and carried no guns -- their only defense was speed. One day Dad debriefed a pilot who had come back pretty shaken up. The wide-eyed fellow said that while he was flying at top speed, a German plane passed him "like I was going backwards." That pilot had witnessed his first jet engine in operation. Lucky for him, the experimental jet didn't carry guns either.

- Advertisement -

Cover of publication by the 4th Photo Tech Squadron, Bari, Italy
(Image by Public domain)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

In August of 1944, Dad was flown to Italy in order to join the 4th Photo Tech Squadron in Bari. He flew in an unpressurized plane, and remembers that he passed out at 12,000 feet. I guess it's a good thing he wasn't the pilot! He was shocked when they landed in Florence -- he didn't know the Allies had taken it until someone told him it had been liberated just two days earlier.

In Bari, Dad read recon photos, many taken by Col. Karl Polifka, who had flown over 125 missions by the age of 33. Polifka had the reputation of being the "most outstanding reconnaissance pilot of WWII," and went on to fly missions in Korea.

Col. Karl Polifka
(Image by Public domain)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

- Advertisement -
Many of the photos Dad wrote reports on were aerial views of Dachau. Of course, he was making note of supplies being transported. At that time, no one knew what was going on in the buildings that were marked with the red crosses.

Dad's a member of another rare breed, too, due to a brush with fate that happened just before he got to the Mediterranean.

In early 1944, Dad was stationed at Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma City, with the 32nd Photo Recon Squadron. It was part of the 5th Photo Recon Group in the 15th Air Force, which consisted of the 32nd as well as the 15th Photo Recon Squadron and the 4th Photo Tech Squadron.

Emblem of the 15th Air Force of the United States Army Air Corps
(Image by Public domain via wiki)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

Every Wednesday night at 9 pm he'd phone his parents in New York for a highly anticipated three-minute long-distance call. His fiance, Florence "Johnnie" Johnson always had dinner with them on Wednesdays so they could all have a chance to talk to him.

When Dad got a furlough in March of 1944, he planned a complex coordination of train connections that would take him from Oklahoma through Chicago and on to New York, putting him at his parents' house at just the right time to surprise them while they awaited his phone call. It took a couple of days of travel time, and a fair amount of walking, but to his delight the surprise worked!

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3


- Advertisement -

Interesting 5   Well Said 4   Must Read 3  
View Ratings | Rate It

Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon Share Author on Social Media   Go To Commenting

The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Bizarre Theft of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski's Miracle Cancer Cure

Mysterious Bayou Sinkhole Continues to Cave In: Radiation, Hydrocarbons Detected

Relentless Bayou Corne Sinkhole Nearly 30 Times Original Size (UPDATED with Cave-In Video)

Sex, Love, and Jesus: A Few Surprises in the Easter Basket

2012: Armageddon or Quantum Leap? Gregg Braden's Answer-Fractal Time

California Fire Update: Station Fire 1:30 pm, Pacific Time 8-28-09