In advance of the Connecticut Veterans Day parade this month I called the state Veterans Affairs department to inquire about World War II veterans in our state. In 2012, there were 16,200 veterans from that war alive in Connecticut. The figure now stands at 13,600. The greatest generation is dying.
In our family, the three members who served in WWII are no longer with us, but they are far from forgotten. Kara’s father Bruce Sundlun served in Europe, and her grandfather Stephen Vargo, served in the Pacific, where my grandfather Crescenzo Chully (Chiulli) also served.
We know the most about my father in-law’s service because he lived to be 91, and his experience was well documented. In fact, it will be the subject of a documentary to be released in the spring. Read more about that here: http://www.wwiifoundation.org/
By the time my kids are in high school studying World War II in depth, there will be very few men and women alive who served in that history changing war. In the meantime, we try to expose them to as much as we can before the opportunity is gone.
In 2011 while in Hawaii for a wedding, we took our jet-lagged children to Pearl Harbor, where they met Herb Weatherwax, who survived the attack by the Japanese. The Veterans Day parade is an annual event for us, and just last month, they got to tour a B-17 bomber.
The relic of a bygone era was on display at Waterbury-Oxford Airport, and there a few brave men there who had flown these jets in combat. Kara’s dad parachuted from one of these after the Germans shot it down over Nazi-occupied Belgium.
Here are some shots from our tour and what struck me most were the close quarters these men worked in, especially a gunner who was coiled up in a fetal position in a tiny compartment under the fuselage.
From the House family, thanks to all of the veterans for all you’ve done and the men and women who serve today. I wish I’d served.