World War 2 Planes come to Terre HauteAugust 1st, 2012 at 9:57 pm by Matt Gregory under Matt's Blog, News, Uncategorized, WTHI Blog
“We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air…we shall never surrender” –Winston Churchill
If you have been reading this blog then you know by now I love history. It’s how I got started with the archive stories and it’s what makes theWabashValley so interesting to me. Whether we know it or not, so much history has happened all around us. Today, I got to see the most important story of the last 100 years of American history up close. (Well it’s at least one of the most important.) World War Two.
As the war raged on in Europe and the Pacific, American men (just 18 or older, barely men really…) left their homes to go abroad. It was different than World War I or any previous war.
This one seemed to threaten the American way of life. Japan performed the first enemy attack on U.S. soil since the War of 1812. (British would say we were the enemy on their soil, even then.)Germany had steamrolled the nations of Europe in the blink of an eye.
So our grand-parents and great-grand parents left their homes; many after just graduating high school or college.
One of the people I met today was one of those now great-grandparents. If you see the story, you’ll meet Archie Goodwin, a crew member on a B-17.
Archie, now 88, lit up when he saw the old plane at the Terre Haute airport. He was too excited to contain himself. Talking shop with the current pilot, sharing stories with me and the current crew, and showing his family his home in the sky from 1944 till the end of the war.
But even beneath his story you will see that Archie was just a young kid when he went to war. He told me he wasn’t ever really afraid until later on in the war. When he and his crew were told that they had a three minute lifespan over a target. He and his crew survived enemy aircraft fire that significantly damaged their plane and in the end the war was won.
These young men and women went home; as heroes that faded into society. They got jobs, raised families, and then had grandkids. Some loved talking about their war days. Others kept quiet for years.
We don’t take for granted that they sacrificed their youth for our country. We just forget. The greatest generation put us on a course for global domination. They clung to a philosophy evem after the war, similar to the one Winston Churchill had: never surrender.
These days it gets easier to forget. Right now World War Two veterans are dying at a rate of 1,000 a day. It’s a tragedy that the greatest generation is leaving us, when we need their character the most. In such a tough time in our nation’s history, a turning point, we could take a page from their book.
Or maybe just a motto: Never Surrender.