View Full Version : Another of the Greatest Generation passes

09-17-2011, 06:43 AM
Another member of the Greatest Generation passed away today.

Born 24 December, 1922, and left us today, 17 Sept 2011.

My father enlisted in to RAAF on the 11th of May 1942. Five days earlier, on 6 May 1942, American Forces had surrendered to the Japanese at Corregidor in the Philippines. The concern that Australia could be next would have been on the mind of many. With an uncertain future, My Father completed his induction and was sent to Melbourne for technical training, prior to joining 80 Sqn, RAAF. The Squadron deployed to New Guinea in 1944, landing first at Lae, Nadzab, Tadji, Hollandia, Bisk, Noemfoor, Morotai before their last landing in Tarakan in May 1945.

Dad servicing a P-40 from 80 Sqn in New Guinea

The 'Old Timers' were released from the Sqn first, in in November 1945, my Father flew back to Brisbane in a Catalina Flying Boat, where he was demobilised on 18 December 1945, six day before his 23rd Birthday.

He spoke little of his time in WW2 with me, even after I had completed my first Tour in the Gulf, his stories were always about the people he worked with, and observations about different things he noticed during his time in the RAAF. 80 Sqn was equipped with US provided P-40s, providing ground attack support to troops as they landed on various beaches, as they Island hopped through the Pacific.

He told me stories of stealing jeeps from USAAF units, and repainting them with 'fake' RAAF numbers, before the American Army turned up asking about their 'lost' jeeps. Even rolling a jeep on to its side to service them seemed normal in 1944, and we wonder why our 67 year old jeeps are a little worse for wear.


The 'crew' circa 1945 - Dad is second from the Right

Many of the 80th Sqn Vets have long passed away. Of the four who shared a tent in many of the forward airfields, my Father was the last to pass away. Even 'Buck' Rodgers on the right could not out-live destiny.

Some 39 years later I joined the Army and started my career. I took many of the stories of his war with me. He never glorified what deeds they accomplished, yet always presented the lessons he had learnt through those three years at war.

When I purchased my wreck of a 1944 GPW, I had the aim to give day is first ride in a ANZAC Day Parade. Even though I had marched many times, my father had never felt comfortable to march himself since returning to Australia in 1945. We worked hard in the last year to give him a first and best ride in the ANZAC day March for 2011.

My jeep was finished on the Morning of ANZAC day, 2011, yet my Father at this time was too unwell to travel to Melbourne. Even up to the last few weeks, we all hoped he'd be given to OK to travel. It was not to be.

Seven weeks ago, Dad had a massive heart attack that would have killed most. He fought his way back again, but after 88 years the fights had taken their toll. It was only on my last visit in August he had told me that in 1944, a mortally wounded pilot who crashed his P-40 as he attempted to land, and missed my father by inches with his wingtip, as the plane broke up on the rough strip. The pilot did not survive, and you have to wonder did he give the plane a bit of a nudge away in his last moments?

Last night, I flew from Melbourne to Brisbane after receiving word that the end was very close. I was lucky to arrive in time to spend last night and this morning visiting with him. I showed him the first photo, which I had recently purchased from the Australian War Memorial and we talked again about his time in New Guinea.

At 1250 today, my father quickly passed away. We had only been talking about lunch and other mundane things, when he said he felt unwell and could not breath.

To those who helped me with my project, thank you. We got so close to giving one of the Greatest Generation his first and last ANZAC day ride. Thanks Bill, Andrew and the many others who helped or encouraged me here on DIYC.


LEST WE FORGET, for I know I never will. Goodbye Dad, thanks for all that you taught me and much you tried to teach. I'll be a better person for having your guidance and wisdom.

Capt'n Jack
09-17-2011, 07:00 AM
Sorry to hear of your loss wjohn.

09-17-2011, 07:18 AM
My thoughts are with you.

From what you talk about above your dad lived a life that you can be proud of. And having seen that Jeep in person, it was very obvious that you've made an extraordinary effort with it.

09-17-2011, 07:40 AM
Sorry to hear about your loss. May God give you peace in this time of your life.

09-17-2011, 08:49 AM
Sorry to hear about your loss. God Bless.

09-17-2011, 08:59 AM

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Please accept our sincerest condolences on your loss.


09-17-2011, 09:15 AM
John, my condolences.

Thinking of you, and pausing a moment to reflect on your father's legacy.

You should be proud. Lest we forget.


09-17-2011, 09:27 AM
My sincerest condolences John. Relish the memories of your Dad and his exploits, and may they give you comfort.

09-17-2011, 09:34 AM
Sorry to hear of your dad passing, may he forever watch over you an your family

09-17-2011, 09:40 AM
Bless you, John, and Bless your dad for what he has given to so many, and especially to you.

09-17-2011, 10:13 AM
Big John, Sorry to hear about your loss of your dad.
My condolences to you and your family

Your freind always Ron

09-17-2011, 10:40 AM
Our thoughts are with you John. So sorry to hear of your great loss.

09-17-2011, 10:42 AM
Nice write-up, John. It shows the tremendous respect you held for your dad. Thank you for taking the time to share with us in your time of loss.

Praying for peace and comfort for you and your family.


09-17-2011, 10:53 AM
So sorry for your loss John - I just lost my father in May so I know it can be very hard on you...

09-17-2011, 11:11 AM

I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

Greg in Canby
09-17-2011, 12:06 PM
LEST WE FORGET, for I know I never will. Goodbye Dad, thanks for all that you taught me and much you tried to teach. I'll be a better person for having your guidance and wisdom.

We all owe a debt to the generation your father belonged to. We should never forget them, and you will never forget your father.

Condolences for your loss, prayers for you and your family.


dj merritt
09-17-2011, 12:56 PM
As you carry on his legacy others around you will not forget!!!! Sorry to hear of your great loss!! Walk tall and proud as he would only ask of you. Prayers are with you and your family. God bless you Brother .

09-17-2011, 01:08 PM
My condolences. Just reading what you had to say it is clear you wre a special son to your father. I know he was proud of you.

09-17-2011, 01:50 PM

My prayers are with you and your family.


09-17-2011, 03:01 PM

Thank you for your story about your Dad. It brought a tear to my eye. I am sorry for your loss and I send my deepest condolences.


09-17-2011, 03:25 PM

my condolences to you and your family. It sounds like your dad was a great man.

09-17-2011, 03:29 PM

Our thoughts go out to you and your family. Cherish the time you had with him and share his stories with others....so that he may keep on living with us.


PatFrost Xmas

09-17-2011, 04:39 PM
What a beautiful tribute to your father. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. God Bless you in your time of mourning. You and your family are in our prayers.

09-17-2011, 04:55 PM

My dad was in the U.S. Army Air Corps. in WWIIl and he never spoke of it. He acknowledged he was a radio operator on a B-17 flying out of England and that was that (though he explained he wouldn't eat brussels sprouts because they were served at pretty near every meal while he was stationed overseas). After he passed in the mid-1980s, my sister and I were contacted by his pilot and a few years later I happened to be in the same city as the old warrior and we had a few beers, over which he told me stories about that crew's exploits that made my hair stand on end.

Part of why they were a great generation was because they saw it all as a job, nothing more important than that: yeah, saving the world from the tyranny of fascism -- just a job.

My thoughts are with you.


09-17-2011, 05:08 PM
John, I' m very sorry to hear about your loss. It is obvious you respected and loved your dad as you could. I' m praying for peace and comfort for you and your family.

09-17-2011, 05:17 PM

Very sorry to hear about your loss. I enjoyed reading your stories of restoring the Jeep in his honor. May it always be a reminder of his service to your country and to the Allied forces.

May God Bless,

09-17-2011, 06:31 PM
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

09-17-2011, 07:22 PM

So sorry to hear of the loss of your father, our prayers are with you and your family at this time.


09-18-2011, 12:03 AM
duplicate post

09-18-2011, 12:08 AM

Lest we forget. Thank you for sharing the rembrances of your father. We owe so much to the heroes of that generation. Our deepest sympathies to you and your family.


09-18-2011, 12:23 AM

As with the others in the group, condolences and prayers from the states. With time, some of the pain will diminish, and it sounds like you may have enough good memories to keep the remaining pain in check. We wish you and your family the best in these hard times you are experiencing.

Jerry in Louisiana

09-18-2011, 01:21 AM

My prayers are with you and your family.

09-18-2011, 04:11 AM
sorry to hear of your loss. He now at rest.
Cheers Mate!


polar bear
09-18-2011, 05:18 AM
sorry to hear of your loss.

09-19-2011, 01:09 AM
My condolences to you and your family,


Lest we forget

09-19-2011, 04:01 AM
I'm so sorry to hear about your dad John. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


09-19-2011, 09:26 AM
John, truly your Dad was a Hero in every sense of the word. Those that performed the heroic acts during those times tend not speak of them.

I am saddened by your fathers passing, but as my father said just before he passed away from cancer:

"Don't cry for me. Cry for those who have not had the good life I have lived".

I add my condolences and echo the thoughts of all who have made their entries on this post.

P. Short
09-25-2011, 11:17 AM
My condolences, John.

12-03-2011, 07:12 AM

I just recently joined this forum, so please accept by belated condolences.

I would also like to thank you. I read your post, and well, called my dad. It's been years and there was a falling out. Nuff said about that I suppose, but it was the most important call of my life, and something way over due.

Thank You.

12-03-2011, 08:44 AM
Just catching up on posts, very sorry for your loss. But so very proud.