Daring Young Men in Their Flying Machines

Cadet Henry Moore, Youngstown Ohio

“Some of the boys were so young and had never been away from home. They were here so briefly, and you wonder what happened to all of them. I am sure many were killed because most of them went overseas as soon as they got their wings.

Cadet Bob Bain, Pittsburg PA

I sent a Christmas card to one, Bill Lupole, who I had gone to the show or out to eat with one night. I think he was from Pennsylvania. His mother wrote back that he was a prisoner of war after parachuting from his plane over Germany and that he had lost both legs. Another from Marshall, Texas, whom I had gotten a date with Mary to go along with me and one of my friends, Dan Waddell of Hendersonville, North Carolina, was killed soon after he went overseas. I’m sure there were many more.

Bob Bain

“Money meant nothing to them except to spend and when they got paid some of them would stand at the slot machine and put their whole paycheck in the machine. Since I like to play slot machines, I had fun helping them spend it.”

Cadet Roy Kocera, Minneapolis MN

“They would serve sandwiches down there and Mary, the helper, could make the best pimiento cheese we ever tasted. At the end of their stay at GAAF they would have a graduation dance. It was then that some of the wives we did not know about would show up. I guess we excused everything by saying that this was just war time and that things were different. It was like there was no tomorrow.

Cadet Jim Lowe, Seffner, Florida

“One Saturday night at the Cadet Club, a group was seated at the poker table and most had had a few beers. It was late, and two of them got into an argument. A fight ensued and the table was turned over with all the money on it. Mama had to call the MPs to break it up. After that the table was removed from the Cadet Center. Most of the times things were pretty orderly, though, and Mary and I enjoyed going down there.”

Special Services Officer Charles J. "Chuck" Everett, Minneapolis MN

If you’re looking for an eye-opening site on the internet, Google “World War II Casualty Lists.” The National Archives has each state’s county-by-county breakdown of those killed in action, missing or presumed dead. It is stunning to see page after page after page for every state. I looked for these young cadets on their respective state pages and was relieved not to find their names, although I’m fairly sure they’re all gone now. I just hope they made it home safely and kept those wings that they began to earn in Greenwood, Mississippi.

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About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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