Vernon Amundson joined the Air Force right after high school in 1954. He would spend 25 years in the USAF, mostly as a navigator on a variety of aircraft, including B-52s, C130s and AC 119s. Amundson served in Europe during the height of the Cold War, as well as in Vietnam. He retired in 1979 with the rank of major.
Roger Woodbury was a teacher in Rhode Island when he realized that some of his students would soon be eligible for the draft. Asking himself “Why am I exempt,” Woodbury entered the Air Force in 1968. He would become a squadron weapons controller in Massachusetts and in Thailand. After leaving active service in 1973, Woodbury would eventually join the U.S. Air National Guard in Worcester, leaving in 1989 with the rank of major.
“Doc” Blaney joined the Army on his 18th birthday in 1943. Trained as a medic and a paratrooper, he parachuted near Utah Beach during the D-Day invasion at Normandy; he would spend the next six days treating the wounded in an old chapel. He was also at the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he joined the Air Force, and served during the Korean War in photo intelligence.
Thomas Dahill joined the Army Air Corps in 1943, shortly after graduating from Arlington High School. He eventually became a navigator on a B-24, and was sent to the Philippines and New Guinea. He would fly 45 missions, including one that would be the longest trip ever made by a B-24.
Vince MacDonald joined the Air Force ROTC while still a student at Brown University, earning his second lieutenant’s commission upon graduation in 1960. Over the next 30 years, MacDonald would work in personnel and career management at several bases in the U.S. and in Bermuda. While stationed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware in 1978, he oversaw the receipt, processing and disposition of the victims of the tragedy in Jonestown, Guyana.
U.S. Army Air Corps, 1943-47
Arnold Lessard helped his father run a grocery store in Newburyport, and also owned a band that toured around the area. He enlisted in the Army in 1943; his ability to do math quickly helped him join the Army Air Corps soon after. He became a navigator and bombardier, and would be part of a B-17 crew testing radar equipment. Arnold Lessard was stationed in Japan during the American occupation. Lessard’s experience in the military led to a lengthy and successful career in consulting.
This interview was conducted by his son, Arnaud Lessard, at the Bedford VA Medical Center.
James Zographos had just graduated from the Mass. College of Pharmacy when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Initially assigned to the infantry, Zographos would transfer to the Army Air Force, where he became a bombardier on board a B-17. Assigned to the 8th Air Force, he flew 50 missions, was wounded twice, and would be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart.
This interview was recorded at the International Museum of World War II-Boston.
Ted Zicko was born and raised in Natick. As a child growing up during World War II, he remembered rationing and seeing Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour at the Common during a bond drive. After the Korean War started, he enlisted with the U.S Air Force and spent four years in Intelligence as a linguist (Albanian language), forward observer and photo interpreter. He is a recipient of presidential citations from the United States and the Republic of Korea.
Gayle Turner joined the Air Force in 1974, at a time when women were being recruited for duties normally handled by men. She became a jet engine mechanic, serving in New Hampshire, Alaska and California before leaving the Air Force and joining the Air National Guard. While in the Guard, Turner became an officer, and would retire from the Guard in 2004 with the rank of major.
Byron Prescott joined the U.S. Air Force in 1963 on the advice of his older brother. Trained as a radio operator, Prescott would be stationed in the U.S. and overseas, including a tour of duty in Vietnam that had him in the middle of the Tet Offensive in 1968. After finishing his active duty, Prescott would join the Mass. Air National Guard, where he would serve until his retirement in 1994 with the rank of master sergeant.