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Veterans to visit memorial

May 23, 2004|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

TRI-STATE

Two generations ago, they fought enemies in the air, on the ground, on the oceans and near the bottom of them.

Next weekend, worn by 60 years, they'll descend on Washington, D.C., by bus and by car, on foot and by walker. They will see their greatest permanent tribute, and they'll beam.

Eleven years after President Clinton authorized it, the National World War II Memorial will be dedicated Saturday.

Former U.S. Navy Seabee Albert Barrows, 78, of Fayetteville, Pa., will be there.

"It'll be wonderful to see that they got it finished, but I'll have a lot of tears in my eyes for the ones who didn't make it home," he said.

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"It's beautiful. I saw it two weeks ago," said Don Horine, 79, of Hagerstown, a former ball turret gunner on a B-24 bomber, who's going again Saturday. "You can't visualize it. You have to see it."

"It took a long time coming, compared to memorials for Vietnam or Korea," said James E. "Ubbie" Kenny, 78, of Martinsburg, W.Va., who was in the U.S. Army's 99th Infantry Division. He plans to see the memorial with his two daughters and a son-in-law Monday.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected for Saturday's dedication. Veterans from the Tri-State area are going on chartered buses.

VFW Post 1599 in Chambersburg, Pa., reserved a bus three or four years ago, past post commander and trip organizer Allen Melius said. About 30 World War II veterans were among the 47 people booked for the trip as of last week, he said.

The Last Man's Club of Morris Frock American Legion Post 42 in Hagerstown has filled about 55 slots on its bus trip, said Horine, the club's president.

Among the following group of four mini-profiles, Horine was the air component.

In the air

Horine was in Italy with the 15th Air Force, flying 33 missions in 1944 and 1945, but said humbly about his experience, "It's not too exciting."

Horine said his B-24 bomb crew didn't finish its tour of duty in Italy.

He returned to the United States to train on a B-29 in July and August of 1945 to go to the Pacific. But, before long, the war was over.

The best of those times he'll dwell on: the ice cream that was flown in from Naples. The worst he won't.

"I saw some airplanes go down," he said. "But you never talked about that. That's part of war."

Horine said he was discharged in December 1945. Right away, "I went to the other end of the building and enlisted in the reserves," he said.

He spent 42 years as a reservist with the Air National Guard in Berkeley County, W.Va.

On the ground

Kenny was on the ground.

He said he and his 99th Infantry Division were in combat in Germany.

In March 1945, his division crossed Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen.

A few days later, he was shot in the right shoulder. It wasn't a penetrating wound, but it sent him to a hospital in France.

He was headed back to Germany when the war ended.

After the war, Kenny worked for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center near Martinsburg for nine years. He went on to work for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years and retired in 1986.

On the water

Barrows was at sea with the U.S. Navy on a Liberty ship, the SS Amos G. Throop.

He said the ship made several runs from Southampton, England, to Omaha and Utah beaches at the time of the D-Day invasion in June 1944.

The ship was hit by an acoustic mine and was towed to the Thames River for repairs.

Barrows said he was sent stateside for 30 days. While he was gone, the ship was sunk at Antwerp, Belgium, he said.

Barrows later served with his outfit at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Beneath the surface

Last Man's Club member Ray Ambrose of Hagerstown - who will see the WWII memorial on Saturday - was on a submarine, the USS Cuttlefish, deep in the Atlantic Ocean.

"I was young and daring," said Ambrose, who will turn 79 Wednesday. "I was 18 years old and just nothing scared you - except the depth charges."

Ambrose had reason to be scared, and he was, the day a German mine sweeper hit the Cuttlefish's conning tower, which is a chamber above the control room that houses the periscopes.

As the crew pumped water, the submarine "went down to the bottom and came back up," Ambrose said.

He remembers sitting against a wall, waiting, as the one-hour ordeal unfolded.

Ambrose came back to Hagerstown after the war and worked at an Acme supermarket until the chain left town.

He became a patrolman with the Hagerstown Police Department in 1960 and stayed until he retired in 1987.

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