Monday, April 18, 2016

They Went Off To War Together

William Lee Wright (1919-1973)
Robert Earl Walsh (1922-2016)

One of the family stories I had heard for years related to my maternal grandfather, William Lee "Johnny Bill" Wright and my maternal great-uncle, Robert Earl Walsh going off to war together during World War II.  The two had married sisters : my grandfather married Bonnie Mae Lambertson in 1941 and my great-uncle married her sister, Ruby June Lambertson in 1944.

Both men served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and wanted to become pilots.  A heart murmur kept my grandfather grounded, and he became a radioman, while Bob was a pilot, though too late in the war to go overseas.

Thanks to I was able to verify the story that they did, in fact, join up together.  In the January 6, 1944 edition of the Alexandria Times-Tribune in Alexandria, Indiana, I found the following :

Alexandria Times-Tribune, Alexandria, Indiana, January 6, 1944, page 1.
Twenty-one Men Leave Today to Learn Whether or Not They Will Soon be Wearing Uniforms
Another group of 21 men from the north part of Madison county left Alexandria this morning for Fort Harrison at Indianapolis to take their final physical examinations for entrance into the armed services.  This was the first call of the new year.
All of the men will return this afternoon, and those who are excepted for the Army will have 21 days furlough before starting their training. Some accepted for the other branches will have shorter furloughs before reporting to camps.
The group today included the following men:
Alexandria - Joseph Little, Earl Bramel, William Wilson, James Zetel, Paul Roby, Marvin Willis.
Elwood - Wallace Garret, Miton Hodson, Ralph Hartsock, William Wright, Marvin Call, Clifford Bryan, Clifford Bryan, Robert Walsh, James Murray, Paul McCord, James Beeman, Edgar Barnett.
Frankton - Harold Etchison.
Anderson - Herbert K. Closser, Harold Durham.
Three of the men were volunteer fathers, Ralph Hartsock, William Wright and Harold Durham.....

Noted that the article mentioned my grandfather was a volunteer who was a father.  He had married in 1941 and his son was born in 1942.  I was not aware that he was living in Elwood (where my grandmother's family was from) in 1944, unless the paper made a mistake. 

Another story I had heard was that my great-grandmother was upset when she found out her adult and married son had enlisted in the Army, and that she spent time writing letters to Congressmen to get him out of the Army.  Not sure if that one will ever be verified, but at least the one about Bob Walsh and "Johnny Bill" Wright signing up for the Army together was true and has been verified.

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