It is with great sorrow I announce the loss of my dear friend, Papa Art. He passed on Saturday, July 26, 2008, after a long bout with several illness. And true to his great spirit, he remained a trooper and a man of warmth and kindness right to the end.
He leaves behind many friends, as well as family members. Everyone whom met him was touched by his love and graciousness, and I believe he truly left a great mark upon this earth.
My condolences to his daughters Toni and Terri, and his entire family. We shall miss him greatly.
I had the pleasure of reading a post that Art (Leroy) had written on a WWII Vets Forum while I was searching for info for my site. Well, he was a fellow Detroiter and that grabbed my attention, but I must admit I was caught up in the subject matter. Art had written a beautiful little story about his wife and soul-mate whom he married during WWII. It was so romantic and I emailed him that night.
Lo and behold, he contacted me a few days later and we've been corresponding on an almost daily basis since. I must admit I've enjoyed our chats and always look forward to his stories. I hope you enjoy his memories, photos and little witticisms from WWII as much as I have.
If you visit our forum, you will find an entire section dedicated to Papa Art!
7-14-04 (This was the first email I had received.)
Hi Marion, What section of Detroit were you from. I was from Livernois and Warren until I was about 13 and then from Grand River and West Grand Blvd and Joy Road. In 1942 I received my pilot license from Hartung Air Field at Gratiot and 10 1/2 road. I enlisted in Army Air Corp in 1943. Then in 1945 was in Philippine Island and then Korea
Art a long ago air man
Excerpt from 7-16-04
...I was Air Cadet in Army Air Corp and also in Infantry, Philippine Island and occupation duty in Taegu, Korea.
Also I have some diary of my service time, my brother-in-law was Marine officer in south Pacific and his diary of crossing the equator with the traditional en-listed men giving orders to the officers. My younger brother was in 101 st Airborne Paratroopers, wounded in Bastogne and K.I.A. crossing the Rhine River.
If you want I can send what I have.
Here is a friend of mine true story...
Kellogg’s All-Bran and WW2
I have a friend who was WW2 tail gunner in a B-24 in England. He had a hearty breakfast of Kellogg's All-Bran before a mission over Germany. On the mission the All-Bran started to work. He was not going to fill his pants so he left his tail gunner position and went to the bomb bay doors and relieved himself. When they got back to their base he really got chewed out by the pilot. All I can think about is the German soldier looking up and plop! he gets it right in the face and said American secret weapon but it stinks.
Hi Marion, Here is another report...
WW2 Marriages: A short “I do” and off to war
WW 2 marriages did not have tuxedos and long gowns but did have everlasting love. As a cadet we finished our tour at Gettysburg College and was given one week furlough Friday May 12,1944. From "Old Dorm" I called my fiancee and asked if she would marry me. She said yes, I jumped on a bus to Harrisburg, bought a new cadet hat, jumped on train for Detroit. On the train the porter looked at me, with wings on my shoulder, wings on my new cap, and humming our song "You'll never know how much I miss you". The porter said "Sir we have a better seat in the car ahead of us." I arrived home Saturday morning and found out we needed some papers filled out but offices were closed. Luck was with me, my future father-in-law had friends downtown, so everything was copasetic. We were married Monday May 15, 1944 at 7 PM. We went downtown to the Hotel Fort Shelby. Shortly after arriving there my wife's sister and our best man came with White Castle Hamburgers. We spent the rest of the week on cloud nine floating around visiting friends. Sunday May 20, 1944 I left my love (boy, is this hard to write) and did not see her for two years while I went to Philippine Islands and Taegu, Korea. My wife is with our Lord now, looking down here and I can still hear her saying "Roy you are going to make yourself sick". Name Roy is another story, my middle name is LeRoy.
May 20 I was back to Gettysburg College and we were shipped out to Maxwell Field, Alabama for Pre-flight. After pre-flight we went to Avon Park, Florida where we started flying the open cockpit Bi-wing PT-17 Stearman. Then to Lakeland Florida with same type of plane. Then to Cochran Field at Macon, Georgia flying the AT-6 Texan. January 1945 I was given check flight by a Captain and one by a Major. (I had my pilot’s license before joining the Air Corps.) The Major said I did OK but they had too many pilots and I was put in the Army Infantry. I went to Gainesville,Texas for infantry training. Finished training and went to New Jersey and then by train to Pittsburgh, California and shipped out June 1, 1945 for the Philippine Islands.
Almost AWOL Christmas
Christmas Season 1943. I had been away from my fiancee for only 4 months
when I arrived at Gettysburg College as Air Corps Cadet. I was a homesick
fly boy. I called my Charlotte (Micky) and told her I missed her and was going
A.W.O.L. and come home to see her. Bang!! I got a stern voice saying, "No
you stay there” and she would come to see me. On Friday Dec 24 Micky came
with my mother and father. I met them at 9 A.M. The next three days were great.
Sunday night I walked (Gettysburg was only a couple of blocks in those days)
them to the Bus Stop. I said goodbye and slowly walked back to "Old Dorm"
which was our barracks and as the old song said "tears flowed like wine."
Excerpt from 7-16-04
...Here is a funny story from my brother-in-law Marine Lt. Virgil Terry in 1944.
I found this letter to my sister from her husband, 1944
WW2 Marine Diary Lt. V. Terry
Crossing the Equator
Three days away from the equator and then the ships captain and those men who had crossed the equator before, began to plan the festivities of the crossing. All who had crossed the equator were called Shellbacks, All who had not crossed the equator were referred to as dirty, slimy, filthy, Pollywogs. All Shellbacks had to show proof of their having crossed before, and all had a card of the Ancient Order of the Deep. Well, as I said, they planned the festivities and this is the result. Several of us were dress in rubber diver suites, completely zippered and buttoned, and we were made (by means of paddle suggestion) to climb the ladder up to the very top little bridge deck way the hell up in the air, and were given spy-glasses (two rolls of toilet tissue fastened together) with which we scanned the horizon for a sign from Davy Jones as to when the Equator would appear in all its glory and announce the arrival of King Neptune aboard the ship. Needless to say it was a warm job in that equatorial heat and out in the sun all buttoned up in rubber suits, I bet I lost 10 pounds that first afternoon. Well, it was worked like that by shifts for two days, about every ten minutes or so a Shell back would approach from the rear (usually a salty little pfc or corporal on his way back to combat for the second or third time) and question you about some ridiculous matter that would have no answer and as a result he would then paddle the devil out of you, and of course the rubber suit accentuated the sting of the paddle. Other hazing crews of Shellbacks were busy elsewhere, requiring anyone of any Rank to do anything he asked. You could do nothing to please them of course and all were paddled thoroughly during that three days session. The favorite request of the Shellbacks was that you Salaam and say Praise Allah, hurrah for the wonderful Shellbacks, and down with the dirty, slimy, filthy, Pollywogs. On each salaam as you bent forward on your knees they would timely administer a paddle to your fanny. Now these were not schoolgirls wielding the paddle but rollicking adult husky Marines and their heart was in their work, especially when the victim happened to be an officer and the Shellback on enlisted man, boy oh boy, their revenge must have been sweet and complete. Well, this went on for the entire three days, for the most part during our waking hours but it did happen sometime that you were hauled out of the sack and at irregular hours. At last the day came when the lookout announced that Davy Jones had signaled him that the Royal Party and His Royal Highness King Neptune (Neptunis Rex) would board the ship at high noon the next day and for all hands to be ready to receive him. Well the skipper of the ship ordered the Jolly Roger hoisted (the Pirate Flag of skull and crossbones). All Pollywogs were marked with an X on their forehead with gentian violet (a blue medicinal potion which is practically indelible), of course sometimes the brush slipped and one’s entire face got it. Well, at exactly noon the next day the Royal Party came aboard and there were these present (appropriately accorded in regular raiment, carried aboard nearly all ships for just this purpose) King Neptune, beard and all. The Royal Baby (a huge 250 pound Marine with head shaved and all rouged and lip-sticked) the Royal Barber, the Royal Doctors, and of course Davy Jones who dressed as a pirate somewhat like John Silver patch over eye etc. These men were well made-up and looked every bit the part with the exception of the gargantuan Royal Baby. Well the party started by all of us being lined up and awaiting the Royal Barber, while we waited we were one by one bathed with a sea hose which threw a stream of salt water from the sea about 4 inches thick and in order to make the job thorough we were required to back into it on our hands and knees, we were not clothed except for skivvies, and believe me the force of that hose was about like an enema on a large scale. Well after backing into the hose for a distance of about 10 feet we were somewhat surprised to find another hose of the same type playing on our faces, making breathing somewhat of an amphibious or something of operation as the water sometimes seemed to contain some bilge water besides the sea-water, so that initial phase was over we stood back and reveled in the misery of those behind us. Suddenly we were marched to the Barber, who proceeded to cut a runway down the center of our beautiful scalp, and I do mean scalp, he took several nicks out of mine besides the hair. The hair clippings fell into a barrel in which had been put some form of lard and shampoo. So after partially scalping us he proceeded to give us a shampoo, but he must have had poor vision because we didn’t get a shampoo but did get our eyes and mouth full of hair and shampoo and lard. Still sputtering we were taken before King Neptune’s elaborate throne where we were required to salaam many times to the rhythmic beat of the paddle, and then we moved over to worship the Royal Baby. This was the climax of the whole affair, the bouncing Royal Baby presented not her face to be kissed but her buttocks, which were diapered and over all about one inch of mustard was smeared. Well everyone had a natural hesitancy about sticking his face into a smear like that which to all appearances might well be imagined something entirely more unsavory than mustard. The court attendants here took the situation in hand (our heads) and with a decided push accomplished the fact. Thence we were placed upon the Royal Surgeon’s operating table and were asked how much we weighed. Of course everyone weighs one hundred and some pounds, and since nearly all say a hundred fifty six, etc they naturally form the Hun syllable with a kind of openmouthed grunt and at that precise moment the Royal Surgeon (large syringe of foul tasting alumish fluid in hand) squirts your mouth full and oral cavity being in such a wide-open state the stuff invariably caused much spewing and sputtering and in some cases violent nausea with dismaying results. After that none of us cared much what happened and not much more was possible, it didn’t seem. However it was then necessary for us to drink deep of the deep and a bucket was lowered over the side and some nice salt water was pulled aboard and we all were made to drink. Ugh. Well after several other sessions it seemed we were about to become Shellbacks, but no. Blindfolded and roped hand and foot we were dunked over the side, just a quick wetting for some, it wasn’t possible to do a thorough job on so many, thank goodness, then we were asked what the definition of a Shellback was: and then the trouble began. It seems that Pollywogs are allowed to mutiny if they do ii in an orderly manner, and once of the larger and heftier members decided that this was the psychological moment. It was a dismal failure, as the Shellbacks anticipated such an attempt and was well prepared with hoses; it resulted in a washout for us.
Taken from our Message Board 7-16-04
WWII Unknown Stories
This is what I remember. If it helps good, if not it’s something different.
July 8, 1945 I arrived at Leyte Island, July 25, 1945 arrived at Panay Island.
Japan surrendered August 14, 1945.
Sept. 8 or 15, 1945 we arrived at Inchon, Korea and took a train to Taegu, Korea. We were the first Americans the Koreans ever saw. We marched into the Japanese compound past the Japanese guard and stopped in front of a 2-story building we were to use as our barracks. Being in the first squad we marched to each guard post, the Japanese soldier fell in the rear of our column and one of our men took over the guard post. I took guard of the ammo dump and it was raining very hard. The Japanese soldiers were very cordial and bowed to each of us as we replaced them. When we got back from guard duty the Japanese were gone. The following night we were just getting in bed and the C.O. came in and told our squad to make a full field pack (with rations), get our rifles and ammunition, because of some trouble in town. We packed up (13 in our squad) and were taken to the city hall. We just got there and were standing at the gate when up from three directions came three Japanese soldiers running at us. To us it looked like the whole Japanese army was coming at us. Those rifles of our got loaded really quick and ready. The Japanese just came up to surrender to us Americans. They were afraid of the Korean Police. We were to guard some important criminal and political papers. My guard post was two vaults and it was pitch black. Here comes the kicker!! We were the regular army troops, but the only ones there so we were given M.P. helmets, M.P. arm bands and 45 caliber revolvers and we worked with the Korean Police. We set up our radios in police stations to talk to our jeep. There was a city block of houses, built side by side, no back door, and facing the courtyard. Only one way to get in and we were there to keep G.I.’s out from this whorehouse district. I don’t know how they would get in but a Korean madam would come out saying American, American and we would have to go in and check each room and kick them out. Four of us were put at an out-post many miles from town at bottom of some mountains. Every morning a jeep with a hot stove would come and make us hot breakfast, the rest of the day k-rations or one time two of us took our rifles and got a few ducks. We were guarding a large barn. One day we looked in the barn and it was full of rice bowls. Many miles away another 4-man post was guarding parachutes. The Korean toilets were oblong holes in the floor and they had Honey dippers who would take away the human waste and spread it on their food gardens, everything grew twice as large as ours. We were not aloud to eat anything that came from the ground. We did not destroy any arms; I assumed the Japanese took them home with them. There was a room that had a few things we could have, I brought back a sword. We did turn in our rifles and they dunked in some preservation gook. I left Korea Feb. 26, 1946 and was discharged March 20, 1946. When I was at Taegu, we (GI’s) had no problems with the Korean people and knew nothing about political problems, we just wanted to go back to the states. I was in the 40th Division, 185th Infantry, Company E, 1st Platoon, 1st Squad. I have a few pictures of farmers, Korean Police, and our M.P.’s if you need them.
Excerpt from 7-20-04
Here is the story of my brother... Now then, my brother, Robert Morneweck, was in 101st Airborne. He was in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Company A. He received Purple Heart at Bastogne and was killed at Rhine River on a night raid. He was 19.
A letter to a friend
Berchesgarden, Germany 30 June '45
It leaves me without words when I try to write to you folks. For I know what misery you have gone through waiting for word from Bob.
Now that it finally came I hope you won’t feel as if he is gone forever. For I know that we will all see him again. Somewhere, someday we will be able to talk with him and find out exactly what happened for we are all in doubt of what the real thing was. I am going to try and go see where he was buried. But the army does odd things.
You asked about the Mc Crea boy. Well Bob and I saw him afterwards. He was in a different sector from us but he was lying next to the road as we went by on our way back. He died in an instant after being hit so there was no suffering. A small piece of shrapnel killed him.
As for the Bastogne deal, well it is another long story so I’d best wait till I get home to tell you about that.
The raid Bob lost his life, he was loaded with extra ammunition and grenades. The raid we pulled across the Rhine. It was below Dusseldorf and about five miles from Neinenhiem. Maybe you can find it on a map.
It was at that time of the Rhine pocket so you see what we were up against. We started across about midnight and withdrew about 4:30 am. We captured our objective and caused the German troops to move as was needed.
About the time we started to load in the boast, 3 – 88s opened up and everybody instantly tried to hop into the nearest boat to where they were. As a result, four boats overturned and we lost 18 men. What few did get out said that it was impossible to swim in the current. Our boats picked up some but it was so dark that we couldn't’t see over five feet in front of you.
That was about all we know. So perhaps you can draw a picture of it and get some idea of how it happened.
Thanks millions for the stamps, they really came in handy.
As things stand now I’ll be seeing all of you about Christmas time, I hope.
So I’ll try and keep up with my letters.
As Ever, a Friend
The trooper killed was Robert Morneweck, my brother. His buddy was Ray Boscom
they were in Company A, 1st Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne.
Excerpt from 7-22-04
Here is Ray's story.
I worked with this man for over 30 years ad just discovered these facts.
Receives D.S.C and Silver Star Same Day
(Ray is center with Gen. Westmoreland on right)
Ray had 5 brothers all in service. Army Navy, Air Force Marines, Airborne and his father was classified 1-A.
Ray enlisted in paratroopers in 1944 when he was 18 years old. January 1945 he was sent as replacement to Europe and served with 80th AA, and 82nd Airborne before being assigned to 155 AA Abn,17th division. The war ended and volunteers were being sought for South Pacific with a 30 day furlough. Ray had a bad case of jaundice and after 10 weeks in the hospital at Ft. Bragg he rejoined the 80th in New York and played football on the division team. After his discharge he worked in auto plant in Detroit and played semi-pro football for the Windsor (Ontario,Canada) Rockets.
Hostilities broke out in Korea. In 1950 Ray re-enlisted ,got his shots and clothing at Ft. Knox, Ky., given 19-day delay en route and then reported to Ft. Campbell, Ky. He was assigned to G-Company 187th .It has been 5 years since he jumped, he now made 1 jump and was sent to Korea. While in Korea he received the DSC and Silver Star the same day. The citation reads “Cpl. Ray Gonzales distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in vicinity of Naigonggum, Korea. In January 1951his patrol approached the village when large enemy force opened fire. Ray and four comrades were cut off from their main body of the patrol. Before the enemy banzai the enemy threw two grenades. The first one landed about two feet from the BAR man, Ray said not to worry the pin was still half way in. The second one came in cooking,Ray yelled to the men to start shooting as soon as this one went off because the enemy was going to rush his group. Ray jumped up and was between the grenade and the BAR man, his name was Sullivan.The grenade went off and the enemy came down the mountain. Ray felt the concussion behind him. He had to expose himself to see where they were coming from. They were trying to get behind us so Ray yelled to the BAR man to the right, they were getting behind us. That kid was one hell of a Bar man, those suckers didn’t stand a chance he cut them right down. Ray received a head wound and his right elbow was shattered. Disregarding his wounds he took command and deployed the men for effective fire on the enemy. When the enemy launched a “banzai” attack Ray firing his carbine with his left hand personally killed two of them. They repulsed attracts until dark. Ray led them in a successful withdrawal. They had to go over steep snow covered mountains in sub-zero temperatures. Ray wounded helped carry another man wounded in the leg, and could not walk. Ray, by his insistent demands that the group keep moving, led them through the nights intense cold to arrive at company area at 0600 hours. All of his little group safely returned to the platoon head quarters.
Ray had been recommended for the Medal of Honor but the recommendation was downgraded somewhere a long the line.
After his discharge Ray went to work for Friden Calculator Co. which eventually changed to TRW.
A friend of mine in Cadets at Gettysburg College
A Christmas Parable - The Awful AWOL Christmas
This really isn't a Christmas story so much as a Christmas parable - call it The Parable of the Rash Judgment and What Befell Him Who Exercised It.
In December, 1943, I was one of about 100 pre-aviation cadets assigned to the 55th College Training Detachment at Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania. As Christmas approached, it was decided to grant a few days' holiday leave to a limited number of men. I was not one of the lucky few. Rashly, I refused to accept a lonely Christmas in Gettysburg. With or without a three-day pass, I would go home for Christmas in New York.
It matters not how I managed to slip away undetected from Gettysburg on the morning of Christmas Eve. I boarded a bus for Harrisburg, caught the first train for New York and was on my way. No sooner was I in my seat in a car full of Christmas travelers - some in uniform like me, most in mufti - than in strode two MP's, their white Sam Browne belts and black armbands generating terror in my guilty soul. I prepared to surrender quietly and be shipped to Leavenworth.
But they were not checking for passes and furlough papers. Filled with the Christmas spirit, they greeted each serviceman cheerfully as they moved down the aisle. They didn't notice my ashen face and trembling hands when they passed my seat and wished me Merry Christmas. They did not return during the remainder of the three-hour trip, but I never unclenched my fingers until the train stopped at Penn Station.
Boarding the Long Island Railroad train I became aware that I was drenched with sweat. By the time I walked in the front door at home, I was weak and dizzy. My mother, an RN, hustled me off to bed and called the family doctor. I had a fever of 102. "Flu," said the doctor. "Stay in bed for the next two or three days," he said. When he had gone, I confessed. "Dad," I said, "I can't stay beyond tomorrow. I'm AWOL." To my Spartan father, a doughboy in World War I who never broke a rule, I might just as well have admitted to murder.
Don in 1943-45
I don't remember Christmas Day, except being sick and remorseful. My father raged quietly about my shameful escapade. I was a pariah in my own home. Toward the end of the day, I began to feel a little better, and Dad and I discussed how to get me back to Gettysburg alive and, if possible, without arriving under military arrest. Despite my feeble protests, he said he was going with me. On the morning of December 26th, we boarded the LIRR for Penn Station. An hour later we were on a train for Harrisburg. I took the window seat; Dad took the aisle and opened the NY Times as if it could serve as a curtain concealing his dishonorable son. I pulled my GI overcoat up to my neck and feigned sleep, remaining in that position for the entire miserable journey. Again the car was filled with holiday travelers, again MP's roamed the aisles and again I was not accosted. I began to think I might get away with it. We left the train at Harrisburg, boarded the bus for Gettysburg and arrived late in the afternoon - but in plenty of time to get to the college in a taxi, safe at last...
An hour before cadets on pass had to report back, my father and I stood on the steps of the college Administration Building as he prepared to leave for the bus station. He was quiet for a few moments, then he stuck his hand out and said "You'd better see a doctor." I nodded. We shook hands, and I said, "I'm sorry for what I did, Dad, but thanks for coming with me." He looked at me for a long time and then turned to go down the steps to the cab. And then, to my surprise, he looked back, smiled and said, "Take care of yourself, son." He didn't hear my whispered "Merry Christmas, Dad" as the cab drove off.
That evening as I sat wearily on my bed, the staff sergeant who served as barracks chief stuck his head in the door. He was not a favorite with us. "Hey," he barked, as I looked up expecting the worst. Since I had never been authorized to leave on Christmas Eve, I had not dared to report back. Did he know? "Have a nice Christmas?" he asked with a grin, adding, "I didn't see you around."
"It was OK, Sarge," I said, "but I think I caught a cold."
"Better get over to the Dispensary then," he said and closed the door. I did that. An hour later I was hospitalized with a strep throat infection that would keep me there for a week. .
And that was Christmas, 1943.
Did I send this story?
Another letter from my friend Ken
I’m so glad you had a chance to check out the B-24 and B-17. There really wasn’t that much room in the planes and when you had bulky flt. gear on it didn’t help either. After we would sweat out a take off with full load of bombs and full load of gas we would climb up and form on sqd then sqd would form into our group. There were 4 sqds in a group, then our group would get into bomber slot and then head for our target. When over the channel the gunners would check fire our guns. At 14,000 ft we would put oxy. mask on. Now you mentioned the cat walk---well this was the time we had to arm the bombs and one of the guys would start from the front of the bomb bay and I would start from the back of the bomb bay. There was very little room to squeeze thru and I weighed 150 lbs, but with flt gear and also a portable oxy. bottle and hanging on for dear life as the plane was trying to stay in formation by going up then down with a little sway thrown in we would pull the arming pins from the bombs. The bombs are live at this time and we had to save the pins in case we didn’t bomb and had to put them back in. This would also be the time the ball turret gunner would climb into his turret. I was so happy we didn’t have them in our group, so I stayed in the waist window. We pretty much stayed back in the waist unless you had to go up front and we would if you wanted to warm up some as there was a little more heat up on the flt deck. I think someone gave you the wrong info about the ball retracting on the B-17. It stayed down all the time, but the B-24 had to have it up in order to land. There was a lite on the inst. panel and it would come on when the ball was lowered. One time here in the states I was in the ball and noticed we were getting lower & lower so I called up to the pilot wanting to know if we were coming in for a landing, he affirmed that the told me to get out and pump the ball up real quick. Seems as though the lite wasn’t working and man did I ever move like greased lightning getting this done!!
Drawing that Robert created in Holland
Photo of Robert in his uniform
Here is a collage of Robert (Bob)
Art and his wife Charlotte (Micky) on their wedding day, May 15, 1944
Wedding Day hotel bill and pics
D-Day 60th Anniversary Memorial Collage
Art's Story on "Kilroywashere.org"
The actual size of this postcard is 7" X 10"
Found 1943 post card from Miami Beach, Florida
later that same day...
Same place but this is regular post card made out of wood 1/4 inch thick
Here is a diary that Art recently found. It's chronicles the dates from June 1st, 1945 through July 25, 1945 and his arrival in the Philippines.
Art sent me this. It's the postcard he had sent to his "honey".
Art and Robert in spring of 1944 before Robert had signed up with the paratroopers. Robert and their sister Evelyn were visiting Art at Gettysburg College and it was the last time the brothers would ever see each other.
Best friend, paratrooper Fred Coons and Art Morneweck in 1942. Fred was wounded at Normandy on DDay and spent months in recovery at Battle Creek Hospital in Michigan.
Art writes: Fred and his older brother Chuck and I were best of friends. Chuck was in the tank destroyer unit. Their younger brother was Merle Coons and he enlisted in the Marines, then the youngest brother was Babe Coons who was Robert's friend. They had a older sister too.