WWII vet prepares to visit memorial in Washington, DC
We are honoring South Carolinians who served our nation during World War II.
This Saturday, dozens of veterans will take the first Honor Flight in South Carolina. The flight will take them to the World War II Memorial in Washington DC.
Holly Dinkins is one of several vets heading to the memorial on Saturday.
"I wouldn't change a minute of it. Not one second," Dinkins said.
That's a strong statement coming from Dinkins, considering what he went through as a 22-year-old young man in World War II.
‘We had to become human again’
Irv Levine didn’t think about the amulet until it was gone.
His grandmother gave a kemeye, a cameo blessed by a rabbi, to each of her six grandsons who went off to war in 1941.
“Insurance,” she called them.
Levine’s was in a pouch sewn in his flight suit, with his dog tags and $100 worth of rupees, which might buy his way to safety if he crash-landed in the Burma jungle.
In 1944, after his 50th bombing mission in the China-Burma-India Theater, Levine got a one-week breather. The Army sent a rare replacement pilot to fly in his place.
The young, eager pilot arrived before his gear so he pulled on Levine’s flight suit, including the cameo, fired up the B-25 and promptly was shot down over the impenetrable morass of jungle in the Naga Hill country.
“It was his first mission,” said Levine, 87, a Cleveland native who now lives in Northeast Richland. “I never even got to say hello.”
‘I didn't want to be Rosie the Riveter’
Mary Crum still remembers that April day in 1945 when she and thousands of others gathered at Union Station in Columbia.
It was Friday the 13th, by chance, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage the day before in Warm Springs, Ga.
FDR’s funeral train rolled slowly past the depot that now houses California Dreaming as it traveled the Southern Railroad back to Washington, D.C.
Crum was Mary Elizabeth Bass then. And she and a friend, both wearing the uniform of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, stood and wept.
“For us, Roosevelt was a hero,” Crum said. “You don’t think about presidents like that today.”
Crum, 87, of West Columbia, is one of about 100 veterans who will be on the inaugural Honor Flight to the nation’s capital Nov. 15 to visit the National World War II Memorial.
‘Everything was on fire’
Russell V. Meyne was sitting down to breakfast when he noticed, through the chow hall window, a fighter plane skimming the airfield about a quarter mile away.
Odd, he thought. It seems to be firing tracers.
“Then the whole island felt like it was bouncing up and down,” said Meyne, who was a private, a radar operator and a little bit hung over on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, at Hickam Field near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
“Hickam Field was just all on fire,” the 89-year-old recalls as he sits at his kitchen table in Irmo, to this a day an expression of complete disbelief on his face. “Everything was on fire.”
The jovial Meyne — the jokes come as fast as the war stories — will be one of the veterans on the inaugural Honor Flight to the nation’s capital on Nov. 15.
Honor Flight of South Carolina
P.O. Box 292421
Columbia, SC 29229
Honor Flight of South Carolina
Grand Strand/Myrtle Beach Chapter
P.O. Box 1212
Pawleys Island, SC 29585
Honor Flight Lowcountry
Charleston, SC 29422
Honor Flight Upstate SC
P.O. Box 838
Simpsonville, SC 29681