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May 29, 2023 at 3:53 a.m.

Remember the brides

In the 1950s, many veterans of the Korean War brought home "war brides." My uncle Buck (yes, that really was what we called him) brought home a beautiful Okinawan bride and an adorable baby son, my cousin Bob. Her name was Kikue Yakabi, which my uncle shortened to "Peggy."

Peggy settled in to her in-laws' house and "helped" any way she could, including mopping every day, ironing all the socks and underwear, and handwashing my Granny's Sunday dresses which should have been dry cleaned. She brought a few treasures with her, including soybean curd which looked like cranberry sauce to a certain 11-year-old. After I helped myself to a large chunk and it not tasting at all like cranberry sauce, I dramatically "Yucked" and threw a large chunk of her memories into the trash.

She went to a Pentecostal church with my grandmother, was terrified at the worship and was comforted by a "message in Tongues" given by an elderly lady in perfect Japanese telling her, "This is of God. Don't be afraid."

Aunt Peggy worked outside the home, but at menial, rote work. As I grew older, I found out she had been an efficient clerk for the Army in Okinawa. I once asked her why she never worked at a job that would have better fitted her abilities and intellect.

Her answer broke my heart. She said, "No one would give me a chance."

Later in her life she became an "ambassador" to the Japanese sister city to her adopted hometown, Largo, Fla., which is also the town in which I grew up.

Aunt Peggy came to a strange country with strange customs and baffling social mores and made a life for herself because she worked hard to become an American. Wonder how many war brides weren't able to adjust and, with only a war-torn country to return to, gave up on life. They deserve to be remembered too.



Will make it worse

The other night I was taken aback by an ad during the local news featuring the failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake urging Arkansans to do away with voting machines. She thinks there is a problem with the vote in Arkansas.

There is, if you consider that Arkansas is last in the country in voter registration and turnout and first in rejected mail-in ballots (6.4 percent versus the national average of 0.8 percent). However, reverting back to handwritten ballots would only result in even larger rejection rates.

Ms. Lake has lost every court challenge to her election loss. There was no proof of election fraud in Arizona and there is none in Arkansas. Going back in time to handwritten ballots will make things worse, not better.


Hot Springs

Those killed in action

Roll call of combat killed in action: Pfc. Virgil Fiori, Pfc. Paul Gage, Pvt. Earl Glenn, 1st Lt. Marion L. Harris, 1st Lt. Jack Hester, Cpl. Robert L. Kerr, Staff Sgt. Robert H. Mahan, Pvt. R.L. Moore, Pvt. Willis T. Pennel, Pvt. Edgar J. Prater, Sgt. Charles D. Rice, Pvt. B.J. Shackelford, Pvt. Claude W. Todd, Tec. 5 Harold E. Doyle, Sgt. Robert W. Ellis, Pvt. Clyde Mallonee, Pfc. Hershall L. Newsom, Pvt. Winford Watkins, Sgt. Truman K. Anderson, Capt. David L. Dunagin, Cpl. James A. Finn, 2nd Lt. Thomas P. Lincoln, Pfc. Dempsey Cowart, Pfc. Edwin Travis, Sgt. Clarence P. Simmons, Sgt. Irwin C. Strain, Pvt. Edward B. Brown.

Pfc. Arden C. Armstrong, 2nd Lt. Troy Bibb, Pfc. Carl C. Chapman, Pvt. Ray H. Cawthon, 1st Lt. Leonard K. Epperley, Sgt. Julius C. Hatfield, 1st Lt. Jack Hester, Pfc. Harry Mills, Cpl. Thomas B. Savage, Pvt. J.D. Wichur, Pvt. Sherman L. Baker, Pfc. Olan L. Ball, Pvt. Elbie L. Eaton, 2nd Lt. Arthur D. Erin, Pfc. James T. Garrett, Tec. 5 Raymond C. Hallam, Pvt. Nolen E. Jackson, Pvt. Verlin B. Johnson, Pfc. Henry M. Mopping, Pfc. Carl Samuels, Pvt. Aubra Schrode, Pfc. William J. Walls, Sgt. Leonard D. Cheek, Sgt. Wilbern McEntire, Pvt. Louis E. Melton, Lt. Jack K. Siddens, Sgt. John J. Hodgeman, 1st Lt. Marvin N. Keith Jr., Tec. 4 James T. Lock, Pfc. Max Y. Parker.

Sgt. Charles W. House, Pvt. Joe S. Fisher, Pvt. James D. Hawkins, Lt. Milton E. May, Pfc. William C. Berry, Sgt. Daniel A. Thomas, Pfc. Herbert G. Goodner, Pfc. Alvin J. Irons, Pvt. Joseph E. Lingren, Sgt. James S. Allman, Pfc. Wilburn L. Willis, Sgt. George B. Barber, Sgt. William O. Graves, Pfc. Opal M. Archer, Pvt. Jeff Black, Pvt. Erskin P. Harris, Cpl. Wyatt M. Hunt, 2nd Lt. L.J. Fitzgerald, Pfc. James R. Glidewell, 2nd Lt. Benny J. Nuckols.

By a grateful nation, your names are, once again, spoken.



Saw worst of the war

This is to honor my stepdad, David Lyons. He was an orphan and grew up with my mother's family.

He was drafted in 1942 and was trained as a combat medic. He served with General Patton in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Belgium and Germany. After the war, he married and had two children, David and Douglas. His wife Mary passed away in 1962, the same year my dad passed. A few years later he married my mom, Rose.

When I would ask him about his time during World War II, all he would say was, "We had a job to do, we went and did it, and then came home." Because of him, I decided to learn everything I could about WWII and became a somewhat historian, with over 400 books in my collection. I know from my readings that he saw the worst of war as a combat medic.

My mom passed in 2003. "Dad" passed in 2009, one month short of his 100th birthday. He was truly one of the members of the "Greatest Generation."



The name of a hero

When you bear the name of an honest-to-goodness hero, Memorial Day is every day.

On June 8, 1944, Maj. William Grant Tennille Jr. led 10 B-25s on a mission to intercept a Japanese convoy steaming to retake Biak Island, recently captured by U.S. Marines. After hours in the air, the planes spotted the convoy of two cruisers and six destroyers and moved into attack position, despite being hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned.

Tennille and his wingman led the attack at mast height, targeting the Japanese destroyer Harusame before being shot from the sky by Japanese anti-aircraft fire.

In less than 90 seconds, the pilots and crew of all 10 planes earned Distinguished Service Crosses, 19 of them posthumous. Of the seven B-25s that returned to base, five were heavily damaged, but the Japanese convoy was turned back.

Maj. Ennis Whitehead, Commander of the 5th Air Force, said, "This squadron has this date performed one of the finest military feats of the war." Gen. Douglas MacArthur commented that "the job was magnificently done."

My grandfather had already flown that morning and shouldn't have flown that afternoon, but he knew what his pilots were up against and wrote his name in at the top of the duty roster. "The boys needed to see that the old man was sitting in on this hand himself," his second-in-command said later.

There are two photographs in my office. One is my grandfather's service portrait. The other was taken by a combat photographer at the instant that his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. I keep them close to remind me that the things I think are hard to do are not, and that I carry the name of a hero and should work, every day, to live up to it.


Little Rock

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