|My slim, tall father would somersault backward out of the tail...|
Memorial Day with marching bands on Main Street, and I am thinking of my father, Hubert L. Youmans. A Georgia sharecropper's child, he joined the Army Air Corps (aka our Air Force) at seventeen and flew as tail gunner out of RAF Bassingbourn in the B17 Incendiary Blonde (91st Bombardment Group, 322nd BS) during World War II. The crew lost just one man--on the very last day that the position of mid waist gunner was used in the war, a piece of shrapnel killed mid waist gunner Blaine Corbin. In the picture below, Corbin is missing. Some day I'll make a site for my father and include his notes on the day his friend died.
Later, my father served stateside in Korea, and he retired as a major in the reserves. He attended Emory and LSU and worked as a research chemist and as Professor of Analytical Chemistry. He is an example of how sheer drive and tenacity and the desire to learn and to make something of a life can take a human being far.
I also had six uncles who served in World War II, five of them my mother's brothers. (I don't know that much about where each was stationed, though several were in the Pacific theatre. My father's younger brother was in Germany and France, at least part of the time, and married a Frenchwoman.) Many times I was told that my maternal grandmother--Lila Eugenia Arnold Morris, a small-town matriarch, a woman who had faith that she already lived in the Kingdom of God, a woman of strong will--spent hours on her knees every night, praying for their safe return. All five of her boys came marching home.
It would be interesting to know more about the military past of my family. I know the names and something of the history of a few Georgia Confederate soldiers in my mother's family (my eldest, when small, always asked why we were on the wrong side of the war.) Col. James Washington Hance died at Gettysburg, leaving behind a family of little girls. I wonder how they fared in the wretched aftermath in the South--would be curious to know how they grew up in that time. I don't really know much about my father's family during the Civil War.
Probably I know more about my earlier military ancestors. My direct ancestor, Col. John Thomas, came to this country from Wales and founded the Spartan Regiment in upstate South Carolina. He and his wife, Jane Black Thomas, are regarded as notables in the history of the American Revolution, and they produced a mighty clan of children, also notable in Revolutionary history--as were their sons-in-law. (For a colorful account of Jane, see "Three South Carolina Sites Associated With Revolutionary "Feminist" Jane Black Thomas (1720-1811." She also has a Wikipedia page here.)
I wonder how feisty my ancestors were, the ones who lived elsewhere. While I think of myself as a mild and peaceable person, clearly I am a sprig on a militant tree. And that tree is watered by blood.
|The body of Colonel Hance is mentioned|
in this graphic account.