Today is Veteran's Day, set on the date the world ended the "war to end all wars." Somehow, I suspect everyone lost that war. Separate the politics from the personnel. Sanctify today as a day to remember and remark the service rendered and the lives sacrificed by others for the freedoms we enjoy.
I am not a Veteran. There is no way I could ever relate to what our fighting men and women are going through. But I can--and do--admire them for what they're doing and why. One of our staffers, Ray Whitworth, a producer for our Dallas affiliate, KMNY/ BizRadio1360AM, wrote the following trbiute, and has graciously allowed us to post it here.
Read and appreciate.
In our recent history, we shall never forget the brave Americans who lost their lives on Sept. 11,2001.We shall never forget the brave service personnel who are currently risking their lives in service of our country, so you and I live to be free.
Sixty-four years ago another sneak attack on the shores of America was performed, we know it today as Pearl Harbor. Allow me to tell the tale starting with that fateful day how one man started to make a difference that affected many lives.
It was December 7, 1941--a Sunday. The weather in Hawaii was partly cloudy, the temp hovered in the mid 70’s, and the winds were calm blowing out of the west. The night shifts at one of the docks of Pearl Harbor were gathering for a pick up game of baseball. Though it was football season, baseball was considered America’s national pastime. The Yanks and the Dem Bums, The Brooklyn Dodgers were still being talked and argued about. Church bells clang of many denominations sounded for its members to answer the call for prayer. Radio KGMB in Honolulu was on the air playing the latest from The Dorseys, Sinatra, Miller, and Ellington plus traditional Hawaiian music.
Across the island inlet was an army air force base named Hickam Field. The troops were answering the call for breakfast at the mess hall, except a few who were manning a small radar site watching for airplanes in their vicinity. One of them was a short 23-year-old corporal Named George. He was a native of the farming community of Bonham, Texas. His friends gave him the nickname of “Whit”.
The radar station was instructed to be on the lookout for a small flight of unarmed B-17’s arriving from California. Rumors had circulated that early morning of contact with a mini-sub off the beach of Oahu. The radar crew showed numerous blips approaching the islands. The Chief master sergeant told the crew to ignore them. They were false echoes due to the weather conditions and they were picking up sea birds.
At 7:54am Pacific time, the last minute of peace for the next three years and nine months was fading away. The clock struck 7:55am;swarms of green planes with red circles flew out of the rising sun of that Sunday morning. Through the Hawaiian valleys and up over dormant volcanoes, over the scattered fields of macadamia, and pineapples they flew. Over the houses of its inhabitants came the deafening roar of their Mitsubishi engines were the sons of Banzai.
The Pearl Harbor Naval base stood in their path to history. They dove onto the ships sleeping in their berths extending a deadly satanic invitation to war. Black plumes suddenly covered the bright sunlight that once was covering the landscape. Screams of brothers in arms pierced the air then quickly silenced, as the death knell of ships heaved with artificial thunder.
Japan was attacking and the United States once again was at war.
Service personnel scrambled for machine guns, anything to answer back these cowardly betrayers of peace. At Hickman Field, George and his comrades in arms jumped into a sandbagged machine gun nest and opened fire on the red-circled planes. We don’t know to this day if he and his buddies downed any, but they tried--and stayed manning the machine guns for three days without relief.
America was awakened, never to sleep again.
As the war in the Pacific was underway George was transferred to India. There he was assigned to guide planes over the Himalayans mountains, commonly referred to as The Hump, so that our British and Chinese allies would receive necessary munitions and supplies in Burma.
September 2,1945: VJ day--Victory over Japan.
Allied forces steamed into Tokyo Bay. Among them were Pearl Harbor veterans who could be spared to witness the defeat of the enemy. George was among them.
Peace was again in session--though shaky.
In 1948, the Soviet Union broke the agreement with the Allied countries and closed the gates to West Berlin. President Truman ordered US military transports to begin airlifting supplies into the fractured city. George was sent to help bring those planes in so that the citizens would not starve.
The planes flew, each man aboard wondering whether they might be shot down, triggering another war. The flights were steady and frequent, and George would find himself at times being flown in and out of Germany for rest periods, traveling in hostile Soviet skies.
When George flew back in, he and other service personnel noticed the faces of the German children. Some were scared. Orphaned, their clothing was tattered. Their eyes were blank--no smiles--just a quiet plea to be released from the barren bombed out city of Berlin.
The servicemen took it upon themselves to hand out Government issued Hershey Bars that were given to them. The children quickly snatched them, ate them in a fury, or as George wrote in his photo album, “ broke off as many pieces as they could to give to smaller children who couldn’t be more than 2 or 3.”
A few days later, small white-handkerchief parachutes floated to the ground for the children as Allied planes were on their final approach for landing at the Berlin airstrip. Dangling from the parachutes were Hershey bars. The airmen would soon be called “The Chocolate soldiers”. George was one of them.
Some parachutes “accidently”strayed into the Soviet Occupied zone, and the Soviet authority complained to the Allied Command. The Allied Command told the airmen to cease the droppings, but the crew personnel ignored the order and the Allied Command looked the other way. Soon more “parachutes" would find their way into the Soviet Zone, “accidentally.” A few months later the gates to West Berlin were open and the German citizens were then free to travel.
A couple of years passed, and George was transferred to Yucca Flats, Nevada, where he was “volunteered” to fly into and around Atomic Bomb tests and their menacing mushroom clouds. He was assigned to run and participate in many tests for radiation levels.
In 1951, George got married and sired a son in Dallas, Texas a year later. He was so happy that there was another Texan in the family. He was soon transferred to the Alaskan Territory as the cold war was heating up with the Soviet Union once more.
George was assigned radar duty to watch for possible approaches of bombers from Russia. He and his wife had another son while stationed there. A year later, Georege's health was declining and he was transferred to San Antonio, Texas where the Air force had the beast hospital facilities. The diagnosis was lung cancer. He passed away on Christmas morning,1956.
He was Tech Sgt. George Arnold Whitworth, my father. I am Ray Arnold Whitworth, a proud son, a proud American, whose father made the supreme sacrifice. I was only 1 when he died, but I know him all the same.
For all who served, thank you. For all who are serving, thank you. One person can make a difference.
In 1973 in St. Louis, Missouri a devastating fire heavily damaged the National Military Records Depository. Every military record with names that began with “H” thru “Z” that were enlisted before 1964, were destroyed. This included veterans from the Civil war to Korea.
In 1982, days of heavy rains pelted the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, flooding the city. Some cemeteries were demolished, with caskets floating into the adjoining rivers. They were all retrieved but valuable paperwork for identification was lost. The remains were buried in a mass gravesite as “Unknowns”.
My Father and Grandfather were among them.
Ray Whitworth and granddaughter, Deja.