Ron Siebler: A Hero's Parade
Published: 11 November 2010
While our country is engaged in two wars, it is difficult for me to comprehend the mood and conditions that existed here and abroad during World War II. But not so for my 92 year old dad.
In the summer of 1941, Harold Siebler was 21 and living in Loup City, Nebraska when he signed up for military service. After enlisting, he realized that they had put him in the regular army and not the Army Air Corps (today’s Air Force). When he brought the mistake to the attention of his recruiter, he was honorably discharged and then re-enlisted into the Army Air Corps. The very next morning dad was on a train heading for Jefferson Barracks and basic training.
When he got off that train in Missouri the Drill Sergeant yelled out, “SIEBLER, FRONT AND CENTER!” Dad made his way through the crowd of Nebraska farm boys and stood at attention while the Sergeant looked over his papers and said, “I see you’ve served in the Army before. March these boys down to the barracks.” Somehow daad kept his wits about him and managed to get the recruits to their quarters. Dad sat out the rest of basic training and never had to pull KP (kitchen patrol) or MP (military patrol) duties because he had been a private in the regular army for only 24 hours.
In August of ‘43, dad graduated from OCS (Officer Candidate School) a commissioned Second Lieutenant, and then served in the China Burma India Theater of War where he was responsible for the maintenance and repairs of many of the two-engine, un-armed, C-47 aircraft that were carrying vital supplies to China over the Himalayan “Hump.”
Although my dad was not a military pilot, he would occasionally stow away on a flight over the Hump to prove to the crews that the planes were indeed air-worthy. The pilots who flew those mountains faced the many dangers of heavy loads, bad weather, high altitude, and hostile enemy aircraft on every flight. Often they were shot down, and rescue occurred only if the aircraft crashed somewhere close to base.
Dad remembers that the rescue patrols had to hack their way through the jungle in single file. The foliage and undergrowth was so thick that the men could not see more than a few feet in any direction. So every few minutes these soldiers would reach out and tug on the right earlobe of the man in front of them to let them know they were being followed by a friend who had their back. If your ear didn’t get a regular tug the standing order was to turn around and start shooting, because the enemy was probably on your tail!
It should be obvious that I’m glad my dad survived the war and made it home safely. What’s probably less obvious is just how proud I am of him and of his service to our country. So this year I’m going to be with him when he marches with the rest of our heroes in the Veteran’s Day Parade. And every now and then I will reach up and tug on his ear to let him know that I love him, and that I’ve got his back.
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