Characters

William “Bill” Purple

Captain William “Bill” Purple was from a small town in Massachusetts. At the incredible age of only 18, Bill was piloting a B-17 into World War II at a time when the outcome hadn’t been established yet. Read how Bill earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, how he extinguished an engine fire at 30,000 feet and how he’d jokingly “tap wing tips” with his fellow B-17’s.

Fern Frechette

Corporal Fern Frechette, his parents immigrated from Canada but he’s a real American hero. Read how Fern was a part of General Patton’s “Ghost Army” and tricking Hitler into loosing the War. You’ll also read what it was like being on the heels of the Nazi’s as Frechette’s unit entered one of the largest and most notorious concentration camps – Buchenwald. Ordinary men during extraordinary times.

Thomas McDonald

1st Lieutenant Thomas McDonald was married only weeks when he was shipped off to War. McDonald was a navigator in a B-17 that was shot down twice. Second time becoming a German POW where he chronicled his life at war and in the camps. You’ll be able to read his new wife’s letters informing her of his capture and now a POW; how to deal with it and how he dealt with being one.

George Pelletier

Pvt 1st Class George Pelletier was a machine-gunner during some of the war’s most brutal battles. He explains to us the life of a soldier during WWII and how “food was a problem.” How he fought during the Battle of the Bulge, in the Rhineland, Central Europe and the occupation with Russian Forces at the German-Czechoslovakian border. Then come home and retire as a Seargant from the Fitchburg Policeman department.

Charles Sanderson

Corporal Charles Sanderson considered himself just a truck driver during the war. However, he was a much stronger spoke in this gigantic wheel than he knew or would ever admit to. From driving on the Red Ball Express to bring supplies to the front lines to eventually heading for the shores of Normandy, France in an LST. Setting up and firing the great Howitzer cannon and being a nineteen-year old sitting in a field of turnips while the enemy was pounding at them from all sides.

Al Pinard

Staff Sergeant Al Pinard was a Marine in the South Pacific, originally starting out as an aircraft mechanic working on Corsairs, he was soon to be a gunner in the two-seat Dauntless dive bomber. You’ll read how he and his pilot would search over Japanese-occupied islands to dive-bomb and destroy “Targets of opportunity.” However, after being sent home after completing his missions, they called him back to the South Pacific to do it all over again!

Santo DiSalvo

Staff Sergeant Santo DiSalvo and his brother Tony were both soldiers during WWII. Thankfully both returned. Santo will come back sporting the Distinguished Service Cross and a Purple Heart to go along with the shrapnel in his shoulder. DiSalvo shared his campaigns from invading a D-Day in Italy and France and marching all through France, Germany and Austria under constant fire, saving lives and almost loosing his.

Joe Chiminiello

Tech Sergeant Joe Chiminiello spent most of the War in a 3×3 foot sphere miles above the Earth, but not away from danger. Chiminiello gave us his insight on being a lower ball turret gunner in B-17’s and B-24’s. How he considered himself so lucky to have lived after seeing so many killed. He shared his tricks in the turret on keeping the German aircraft from coming after his bombers and his fun with his commanding office Colonel Jimmy Stewart.

Charlie “Buck” Rogers

2nd Lieutenant Charlie “Buck” Rogers and his brother Robert also served in WWII but in different theaters. Robert was a Marine Captain in the South Pacific while Charlie was a pilot over the front lines in Europe. Charlie would end up flying a small unarmed piper cub with his passenger/spotter. We learned how he managed to pinpoint the enemy guns and camps, relay the locations to the gunners and go out back at it again and again. Never flying the same route twice and only a few feet over the treetops, they would be known as “Grasshopper pilots.”

Lauri Rautio

Staff Sergeant Lauri Rautio and his brother Unto, were another family that gave and fought during WWII. Unto would be an aircraft mechanic on P-51 Mustangs for two flying-aces out of Bodney, England. Lauri was with the Mighty Eighth in the belly of a beast-B-17 lower ball turret. Lauri explains how he would squeeze into the thirty-six inch sphere and fly for 5-6 hours non-stop shooting at the enemy to protect his plane and crew. He shares his original mission flights diary in detail with us, giving a perspective otherwise mostly forgotten by decades gone by.

Very Honorable Mentions

There were many others during my interviews worth discussing in details, more than I’ve been able. Here are some that made the final section called,”Very Honorable Mention.”

John Casey considered himself just a welder, but what he and his crew welded saved more lives directly than we’ll ever know. You’ll learn how they cut the “decapitation wires.”

Walter Cutting was in the war as a medic in California. He would never be prepared enough to deal with the POW’s returning home from brutal treatments of their Japanese captors from the Pacific theatre.

Mario Lanza and his brother Ubaldo were another set of brothers fighting the fight. Mario explained how they, “went in as boys and came out as men.” Together they fought side by side.

Erwin Markowitz was a fill-in as a medic with no experience or training, just sent to Euorope to heal and console. His many stories of courage are inspiring, from helping the dying to die, to bandaging up children and parents.

Anthony Hmura knew the US was in danger, “One more year, the Germans could have been in America.” Tony was a gunner in a B-24, flying into some of the most brutal battles of WWII. You’ll learn about his antics with actor/commanding officer Jimmy Stewart, to his being shot down twice, and the constant bombings they rained over the enemy.

Raphael Godin enlisted in the US Navy and went to the South Pacific as a signal-man. High atop the conning tower, Godin would relay the commanders messages by flags to other ships, until the Kamikazes showed up.

Fred Cuddy also enlisted in the US Navy. Cuddy was on the USS North Carolina. A ruthless battleship that has been well documented and during war, a target for the Japanese. Cuddy tells us the story when they were finally hit by the Japanese.

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