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October 2010 Brad Flory column

Posted on 4 October, 2012 by in

Brad Flory column: Younger generation needs to hear about hardships, sacrifices made during World War II


An impressive effort to preserve a slice of living history in Jackson has one regrettable flaw.
Unfortunately, the people who should benefit the most are paying little attention.
For four years, Jackson District Library and a man named Larry Martin have presented “WW II — In Their Own Words,” a series of free programs about the hardships, sacrifices and adventures of local World War II veterans.
Each program is a combination of video and live appearance featuring experiences of one veteran. Photos and World War II era items are also displayed.
The most recent program had Bob Whiting, 88, of Jackson, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot who flew 68 missions in the Pacific. He shot down four enemy planes and was shot down himself into the ocean.
Once his plane hit the water, Whiting had 15 seconds to get out before it sank.
He made it out, flipped his small rubber raft and hid beneath it. The bottom side looked like water, helping to conceal him from Japanese pilots who shot at him.
“The sound of those bullets hitting the water is something I’ll never forget,” he said.
After spending a night in the raft, Whiting was rescued by a PT boat. He went back into combat the next day.
His stories were fascinating, but almost no one younger than 50 was in the audience to hear them.
No offense to old people, but this stuff should be heard by the young. They need to know their way of life did not come free.
Martin, a retired Lansing firefighter who lives in Blackman Township, agrees.
He asked about presenting some version of his program in schools but found little interest.
It’s such a crying shame that I make a proposal.
Let’s have “Take a Kid to War Day” in Jackson.
Invite or cajole someone young — you decide if a kid is old enough for real war stories — to the final World War II program of 2010.
It will be 10 a.m. Nov. 6 in the basement of First United Methodist Church.
The veteran featured will be Richard Nummer, a Marine infantryman who fought on Iwo Jima.
Iwo Jima is the stuff of statues and movies. Any American should be curious to hear what it was really like.
That most definitely includes teenage boys who waste hours playing video games like “Call of Duty.”
And, educators, why not give Martin a call?
Living history dies sometime.
I refuse to believe young ears do not care to hear the World War II generation before it disappears.


Brad Flory

Jackson Citizen Patriot

October 2010

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