Army pals share memories at picnic


Local News

September 24, 2018 - 11:29 AM

World War II veterans Willis Ross, left, and Marion Wright visit during picnic Saturday hosted by the LaHarpe Veterans of Foreign Wars. The pair, both 97, met during basic training in 1942.

LAHARPE — A friendship 76 years in the making was on display Saturday at a Veterans of Foreign Wars picnic.
Moran’s Willis Ross, who served in the Army during World War II and remains an active LaHarpe VFW member, invited his old Army buddy, Marion Wright of Stark, to Saturday’s picnic.
The southeast Kansas natives — both 97 — met while in basic training in California in 1942. While they followed separate paths during the war as part of different units, “we’ve been friends ever since,” Ross said.
Ross served in the Army Air Forces in England, France and eventually in Germany, first as a teletype operator, then as an airplane mechanic before running fuel trucks.
Wright, meanwhile, served as a tank operator, also serving throughout Europe before arriving in Germany in the last days of the European campaign. His cavalry unit was just miles from Berlin when the Russians conquered Hitler’s Nazi forces, leading to the Fuhrer’s suicide.
Wright was sent back to the States, with the understanding he would be dispatched to the Pacific within a few months ahead of the United States’ anticipated invasion of Japan.
In the interim, the United States dropped a pair of atomic bombs, first on Hiroshima, then on Nagasaki, putting an end to the war for good.
“I think about that every day,” Wright said. “They saved a lot of American lives when they dropped those bombs.”
Also on hand for Saturday’s activities was Beverly Sayles of Moran, who served in the Marines as an air traffic controller, as well as younger veterans who have recently enlisted, and their young children.
The picnic is part of VFW post commander Doug Northcutt’s outreach effort to recruit new members.
In recent months, the post resumed its weekly bingo night each Friday.
The LaHarpe VFW meets at 7 p.m. the second Monday of each month at the Post Home.


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