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WWII-Era Planes Bring Rush Of Memories For Veterans Who Once Flew Them
The restored planes parked at Millville Municipal Airport on Thursday brought a rush of memories for the World War II-era veterans who gazed at them.
"Witchcraft," a B-24J Liberator bomber; "Nine O Nine," a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber; "Tondelayo," a B-25 Mitchell bomber; and the P-51 Mustang fighter "Toulouse Nuts" were flying war machines that Albert Teplitsky and the others once knew well from the inside.
"It took me back a long ways, and it taught me I can't get around the B-24s like I used to," said Teplitsky, 91.
Teplitsky, who grew up in West Philadelphia, was drafted in 1943 right out of high school, and served as an aerial engineer and a top-turret gunner.
He now lives at the Delaware Valley Veterans Home in Northeast Philadelphia, and went to Millville on Thursday. He and other veterans were drawn by the old warplanes, flown in as part of the Massachusetts-based Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom tour.
The Millville leg of the tour coincides with the 75th anniversary of the former Millville Army Air Field's designation as "America's First Defense Airport," whose mission was to help protect the East Coast. As part of the event, the Millville Army Air Field Museum recognized more than a dozen local veterans at a brunch reception.
Some recollections were somber.
Louis Gerlack was last in a B-17 — his specialty — five years ago, when his daughters and grandchildren arranged a flight for him in Reading. It was the first time he had flown in one since 1946.
"If there's one thing I'm thankful for, I was pulled [to be] an instructor," said Gerlack, 94, of Aura, Gloucester County.
But "all my friends were killed," he said. "They were losing 100 B-17s a day, and I don't know anyone that got back."
Charles Osbourne of Laurel Springs trained at the former Army airfield. "I knew that I would have a chance of maybe getting stationed here, and lo and behold, I did," said Osbourne, 92, who has a life membership to the air field museum and volunteers there as often as he can. Flying a P-47 fighter, he said, he saw active duty in the North Atlantic in 1944.
When Roland J. "Rocky" Gannon decided to become a pilot, he was still in high school in Ocean City.
Since the Army had eased requirements for pilot training, Gannon — whose nickname comes from James Cagney's character in Angels With Dirty Faces — took a written test in Philadelphia and was one of 36 out of 155 candidates to pass. After training in Miami Beach, he was assigned to a B-17 and was officially a pilot at age 19. He went on to serve in Korea and Vietnam.
At the time, "I had never driven a car in my entire life," said Gannon, 91, who splits his time between his hometown and South Carolina, where his wife of 65 years is from.
Volunteers with the Collings Foundation such as retired airline pilot Paul Reidy transport the planes between cities.
"My father was in the Army during [World War II]," said Reidy, 67, of Cleveland, a self-described WWII history buff. "He was in the Pacific ... It's just part of who I am."
Earlier in the week, the planes visited Northeast Philadelphia Airport. At 1 p.m. Friday, Wings of Freedom will fly south to Cape May.
Lisa Jester, director of the airfield museum, has met numerous World War II veterans and said, "It's amazing getting to hear their stories."
The planes at Millville will be open for walk-through tours ($12 adults, $6 children 12 and under) between 9 a.m. and noon Friday. The tour is free for World War II veterans. Proceeds benefit the Collings Foundation, which seeks to preserve American aviation and automobile history.
© 2016 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.