Saturday, July 10, 2010

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boys

This 1963 picture of Leo Luebbehusen, David McBrayer, Steve Rose, Guy Perkins, Larry Guthrie, David Bane, and Gene Cartwright is an interesting one. I think it was a skit in one of the class programs that depicted the 1940s and our parents’ youth. The uniforms almost certainly belonged to their fathers as the end of WWII was only 18-years in the past when the picture was taken.
As a result of my recent interest in my father’s WWII service, these uniforms now tell a story that wasn’t obvious to me when we did that school program so long ago. From left to right:

1. Leo Luebbehusen appears to be wearing a post-WWII USAF summer uniform. The “scrambled eggs” on the visor indicate a Colonel or General’s hat. One of Leo's brothers reports that their Dad was smaller than Leo and served in the Marines during WWII, so Leo was wearing a borrowed uniform from someone else.  Hmm, wonder if it was Roy C. Johnson's uniform...Roy stayed in the Air Force reserves after the war and was a tall man like Leo.  You know, I bet it was Roy's uniform.
2. David McBrayer appears to be wearing a WWII Army winter uniform. (Author's note: When did David show up...I see no record of him with us before our senior year.)
3. Steve Rose is wearing a Marine uniform…can’t tell if it is an enlisted or officer. (Author's note: Steve was a junior...a '64 Highlander. He was such a good guy, I always thought of him as an honorary '63 Highlander)
4. Guy Perkins is wearing a WWII Army Air Force uniform. Above the ribbons is a set of wings indicating flight crew, on the left is a unit citation ribbon, and the accumulation of ribbons beneath the wing is appropriate for a typical WWII airman; the ribbons were probably a DFC and several Air Medals. The “crusher” hat was commonly worn by WWII airmen baptized under fire in the skies over Europe and elsewhere.
5. Larry Guthrie appears to be wearing a WWII Army officer’s summer uniform. There are more ribbons than you usually see on non-AAF uniforms…there could be an interesting story in all those ribbons.
6. David Bane is wearing a typical Navy junior officer’s dress blue uniform and,
7. Gene Cartwright is wearing his father's WWII enlisted Navy dress blue uniform.  His dad was an Aviation Machinist Mate 1/c; meaning that he most likely served aboard one of the aircraft carriers in the Pacific or possibly on one of the Naval Air Stations during WWII.  Navy Machinist Mates are the sailors that keep the engines, pumps, and other mechanical equipment working on a day-to-day basis.
Sometimes, if you take time to learn of your father’s part in WWII, you will find that he did not, as Patton said to his 3rd Army in a speech, “...shovel shit in Louisiana.”

Here is a close up of a WWII airman's collection of combat service ribbons; beneath the navigator wing are 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 7 AirMedals, an ETO with 5 Battle Stars, American Campaign, WWII Victory, and the French croix de guerre:

A WWII veteran wrote, “In World War II, when I saw a Distinguished Flying Cross, that meant the guy had made 25 or 30 missions over dangerous places like Hamburg or Berlin, those places sometimes had 50 percent casualty rates."



Pug said...

WWII airmen, especially those who flew over Europe, really performed an incredibly dangerous service. Not many of the folks back home could comprehend the nature of their service as very few American citizens in those days had flown themselves. When survivors came home, there was no one to talk to, no one understood. All their lives they struggled with how to rationalize what they had done and generally settled on not talking about it. Late in life, these magnificent airmen gathered together in reunion groups and spent a lot of time trying to understand what they had been a part of themselves. It's a fascinating and emotional story. Pug

Tony Desmuke said...

I knew all those guys. Leo was a Lineman on the 63 football team that won district that year by beating Paschal 8-7 and David Bane was the star running back. I also knew Gene Cartwright from Jr.High although they were all a couple of years older than I. Great shot, I think it may have been on Veterans day but it might just have been a skit at an assembly which was very common for EHHS at that period of time.