Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


January 26, 2014

Twist of fate can change a life forever

ASHLAND — The old man quietly surveyed his surroundings as his mind carried him back 71 years to World War II and his first trip to Kentucky.

He remembered the stately terminal building at Bowman Field and the two large hangars seemed familiar.

But the barracks and other wooden buildings from the war years were long gone from the little airfield that had been Louisville’s first airport and a bustling training center for the Army Air Corps.

His eyesight is dimming as he approaches his 90th birthday but his memory is keen as he shares stories about being a GI in Kentucky.

He and several other young men from the west had arrived in Louisville by train to start their basic training.

He had assured them that the bitter cold of the Rocky Mountains in late November would be forgotten when they reached Kentucky.

After all, Kentucky was in the South where the weather was warm, said the 19-year-old who had never been east of Utah.

He laughed as he recalled the teasing he received each time he and the other young soldiers went out into the snow or cold rain for physical training, especially the runs around the perimeter of the field.

That triggered another memory he said he had never shared before — about the only time he had goofed off on duty and how it had changed the course of his life.

He dropped out of one of the morning runs and managed to sneak back to the post exchange, the “PX”, for hot chocolate and a donut.

By lunchtime, one of his buddies told him his absence had saved him from being among 20 men arbitrarily pulled from their ranks to be trained as military policemen.

Soon thereafter, he was moved to Chanute Field in Illinois, the next stop on a two-year journey that eventually would take him to England as the command pilot of a B-17 bomber.

But fate would intervene one more time in the life of this gentle man.

The war in Europe ended before they could fly their first combat mission. Instead of dropping bombs on Germany, they dropped food to the starving Dutch.

That, he says proudly, is his best memory of the war.

KEITH KAPPES is publisher of The Morehead News, Grayson Journal-Enquirer and Olive Hill Times. Reach him at kkappes@cnhi.com

Text Only
  • Lana Bellamy: Waking up America's youth: 4/18/14

    I once read a quote by a man saying the reason today’s youth do not have the same “spunk” as youth in the past is because they do not have inspiration.

    April 17, 2014

  • Mark Maynard: Let’s just forget about it: 04/17/14

    The older I get, the more forgetful I become. Does that sound familiar?

    April 16, 2014

  • Uncovering forgotten treasures

    You know the big difference between me and a hoarder? I mean, except that you can walk through my house and there are none of the disgusting aspects of hoarding in my life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Political stories worth retelling

    With Kentucky in the midst of the political season, it’s time to share some stories I’ve heard about the art of politicking.

    April 13, 2014

  • 0413timbizcolweb.jpg Tim Preston: Great salmon; finding Dr. Amy; and more Maria: 4/13/14

    It isn’t an especially convenient location unless you happen to be going that way, and if you don’t get there within the next couple of weeks you’ll have to wait until fall to try it out, but I had the best lunch I can remember last week at one of the last places you’d likely think of when pondering where to eat.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Restaurant horror stories; garden planning tips

    In my couponing classes, I always had fun with everyone by telling them gross restaurant stories. In encouraging them to eat at home more and save their money, I was also teaching them how much cleaner it is.

    April 12, 2014

  • Feeling happy is ...

    Anyone hoping the Ashland-Huntington area will soon overtake Disney World as “the happiest place on Earth” will be waiting awhile.

    April 10, 2014

  • 0410markcol.jpg Mark Maynard: Brick House (South Ashland Florist) brings in $13K so far: 04/10/14

    Here’s a 14-name salute coming your way:

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Cannon: Take this joint, please: 04/09/14

    Some of the things that occurred during our recent week in Jamaica were unexpected and even a bit weird. I suspect those will be the things we will still clearly remember long after the memories of the hours of lying on the beach have faded. I started to mention them in last week’s column, but opted to save them until a later date in the interest of length.

    April 8, 2014

  • AARON SNYDER: March Madness, sadness for Cats

    It’s just another game. That’s the message John Calipari preached profusely throughout the 2014 NCAA tournament. It’s typical coachspeak, but Cal’s young Kentucky team clung to the step-by-step approach to produce atypical results.

    April 8, 2014