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The Suburbanite
  • Nan DeMuesy: Recalling a time when high school friends went off to war

  • Since the World War I veterans have gone on, I would like to share the feelings of the second world war, the one that I experienced.

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  • There is nothing more pure American than this day, Nov. 11. It marked the end of World War I, in which my dad served in France. Renamed Veterans Day, it includes and honors the men and women of World War II and those other “skirmishes.”
    Since the WWI veterans have gone on, I would like to share the feelings of the second world war, the one that I experienced.
    The Repository currently is running very personal memories of World War II veterans. Yes, many of them, if not all, are embracing their 80s. The men featured were just about 20 when they were drafted for military service.
    I would make these personal stories required reading for all high school senior boys. They should try to imagine what it would feel like to know that in June, whether they wanted to or not, they would be sent off to military training a few weeks after high school graduation. It was serious business.
    GOING TO WAR
    It was as clear cut and simple as graduating on a Wednesday night in May or June and going to the bus station Saturday morning.
    Check any girls’ purses during World War II and you would find at least a dozen 3-by-5 cards with addresses of relatives and friends “at war.” To the best of my memory, I was hometown news liaison for my two brothers and six handsome classmates in service. We used air mail postage and I was honored to be a touch of home. I never saw two of my eight hometown friends again.
    The memorial stone at the gate of North Canton’s stadium lists the names of 26 hometown casualties. Five of them were from the Class of 1943. I have known friends who have visited their graves, including those in Europe. To the best of my knowledge, only one North Canton boy was “missing” for many years and then, undramatically, “presumed dead.” His oak clusters, medal of honor and purple heart were delivered to his mother’s mailbox later on.
    KNOWN BY NICKNAME
    His high school diploma read “Howard Ellsworth McCue Jr.” but we called him “Junie.” He grew up on Hower Street with the North Canton pool (at that time) in his backyard. The high dive board at Dogwood today is dedicated to him. His last job before enlistment was at the Community Building front desk. He wanted to be a YMCA director someday.
    His army assignment took him to Camp Carson, where he trained mules to cross the Alps into southern Germany. When a chance came to trade a mule for a B-24, he took it and was based in eastern Italy. Up early for his 50th mission, he was off — but soon all other planes were called back because of bad weather. Somewhere over Italy, the Adriatic Sea or even Yugoslavia, the B-24 disappeared.
    Page 2 of 2 - For a long 12 years, all who loved him were sure he soon would appear walking up Hower Street, where his mom kept the home from becoming a parking lot as long as she could. There is a small clump of trees yet standing to honor the 20-year-old hometown boy who really flew too high 66 years ago today, on Nov. 11, 1944. Old cheerleaders never forget.