. . George Cahill (November 5, 1925 - July 2, 2018) served with the 390th Bomb Group during World War II. He remembers always wanting to fly planes. But he didn’t think he’d become a togglier. Toggliers were enlisted bombardiers—they toggled open the bomb bay door switch. Bombardiers and navigators sat
. . Peter P. Zivic Jr. grew up in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a teenager when Hitler invaded Poland and Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Peter Zivic followed the daily developments of World War II daily. He supported the war effort by training younger pilots; only a close call kept
. . Al Zimmerman was still in high school when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and he still remembers people screaming about what had happened and listening to the radio for more information. He had an older brother stationed at Hickam Field in Hawaii, and unlike today it took several weeks for
. . Ernest Ziga of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania served with the Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1946. After training as a flight cadet at Yale University and earning a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, Ernest shipped west became a B-17 maintenance officer. In the South Pacific he served with the 873rd
. . During WW II, Joe Zablotny sailed on the destroyer, USS Newcomb (DD-586)–said to be the most attacked ship in the Pacific. Once they were hit by five Kamikaze planes–four striking the 376 foot destroyer at the same time. “We took one hell of a beating,” Joe says of the
. . Milan Yencho began his military career in 1947 when he entered the US Navy. After serving aboard the destroyers USS Howard (DD-179) and USS Thomas (DE-102) he transferred to the US Coast Guard in 1952 where he sailed aboard 4 other ships.
. . Bill Winowich became a medic in the US Army, but he spent his first couple of days in the army as a patient in the hospital–he had lost consciousness after his arm had swelled to double its size from the tetanus shot he had received. After a harrowing 16 day
. . Army Captain John S. Williams of Ridgway, Pennsylvania served as a medical doctor with the 104th Medical Battalion of the 29th Division. Shortly after his daughter Ann was born, he was killed in Normandy in 1944 when his Jeep struck a mine as it rushed to the wounded on
. . Bob landed at Parris Island at a hard time for the Marines. The Corps was so short of manpower that the teenage Bob soon became a drill instructor, barking orders at recruits a dozen years older than he.By 1944, Bob had transferred to the new 24th Marine Regiment,
. . Tom Wiley flew over 50 missions as a B-17 pilot in the 15th Air Force in Italy during World War II. He never wanted to be a pilot. He wanted to be a Marine, like his WWI veteran father. But, as an ROTC cadet at Ohio State, he was
. . Regis Wessell of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania wanted to be a marine, like his uncle who served in WWI, but the recruiter didn’t think the young lad had the right stuff. “Go join the Boy Scouts,” the gruff Sgt. barked, belittling Regis for his small stature. Besides, he was only seventeen.
. . The scenery was stunning, but the land below was so desolate that their aerial maps were often blank. For the men transporting supplies and troops from India into the heart of China’s high plateau region, the trip was as dangerous as any combat mission of WW II. Even without
. . During WW II Leonard Weitzman served with the Army in Europe. During June 2-3, 2013, we had the fortunate opportunity to hear and preserve the stories of six Pittsburgh area WWII veterans at century old Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum. As we usually did during our visits
. . Perhaps it was in war when humans first encountered the failure of language to convey the enormity of experience. After 70 years, Marine Corps veteran Jack Watson still struggles with that gap between word and meaning. Jack Watson joined the Marines in 1942 because he liked the Marine Corps
. . Eugene R. Vish comes from a large and very patriotic family. During WWII, three brothers served in the Pacific and three in Europe. They all returned safely from the war and rarely talked about their service. “It’s what we had to do,” he says of America’s role in the war.
. . Don Vitous entered the US Coast Guard in October 1942 and was assigned to beach patrol along the Gulf Coast. Don’s bother, John, who was a member of the 4th Infantry Division, died in Auckland, Germany after participating in the invasion of Normandy. Don returned home after leaving the Coast Guard
. . Woody Versaw was a first-semester student at Franklin and Marshall College hitchhiking home to see his girlfriend for her birthday when he heard the news about Pearl Harbor on a truck radio. Like many young men at that time, he dropped out of college and tried to enlist in
. . Angelo Vento entered the US Navy on March 1943. He was a motor machinist mate aboard LCT 956 which took part in five different landings and the occupation of Japan. After spending over 22 months overseas, he left the Navy in 1946.
. . During WW II, Chuck Utz (pronounced “youtz) served as a tailgunner aboard B-17 bombers, first ferrying aircraft from the US to Europe, and then into combat throughout the continent. His ship was hit and destroyed over Germany On Christmas Eve, 1944. After bailing out, the Germans took him as