Debra Freed

U.S. Air Force 1981–1985

Debra Freed joined the Air Force in 1981 to do something new and for a chance to travel. She became a jet engine mechanic and was stationed in Japan when two falls seriously injured her back. She completed her tour of duty and was honorably discharged in 1985, but her injuries eventually confined her to a wheelchair. Freed has become an advocate for fellow veterans seeking medical care. She is currently the executive director of the New England chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

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M. David Cohen

U.S. Air Force 1962–1968

In 1962 instead of graduating from high school, M. David Cohen skipped the graduation ceremony to join the Air Force and eventually became a chaplain’s assistant. Surviving basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, he was sent to France with the 322nd Air Division and became the acting Jewish chaplain, visiting bases in France, Germany, Spain, Morocco and Libya. Throughout his career with the Air Force he created Jewish programs where there were none and worked with the Little Sisters of the Poor in France and with other chaplains setting up food pantries. He speaks of the different role that a chaplain has compared to the servicemen. David has continued as a volunteer chaplain with the Chelsea Soldiers Home and with other organizations and remains active in honoring the military with programs and productions. His website is http://21stcenturyproductions.tv.

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Claire Maxfield White

U.S. Army 1943–1945

Marie Claire Maxfield White joined the U.S. Army Air Force in 1943, following in the footsteps of her father, a colonel in the Army Reserves, and two brothers who served in the Army and Navy, respectively. After Basic she was sent to Newark NJ to learn radio repair and maintenance and then sent to Big Spring Bombardier Training Base in Texas where her job was to repair radios on the training planes. Later she worked in the information and education office for USAFI where she compiled information for veterans wanting to go to college and also sent out press releases about what (nonclassified) events were going on at the airbase. After VJ day, Claire wanted to re-enlist but her mother wanted her home, and the telephone company would always take her back. Overall, she thought it was important to have served in the military and that she loved the service.

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Wadsworth Stone

Not wanting to be drafted, Wadsworth Stone enlisted in the Army Air Force. After much training he was sent to England, then to France in 1944. Assigned to the 358th Fighter Group, 365th Fighter Squadron, his first missions were to help clear out the Germans in support of Patton’s advance. His squadron also provided air support during the Battle of the Bulge. Their mission area at first included Brittany and Reims but his squadron ended up covering eastern France to the Swiss border. Usually they escorted mid-range bombers to their targets and, altogether, Stone flew 118 missions. Stone’s last mission in Europe coincided with the last day of the war there. He had been sent to the Bavarian Alps to catch Germans trying to escape when he got the message to head back. He spent a month in Atlantic City, NJ on recuperation and could have been discharged but instead he and a couple of friends decided to join the war against Japan. With a couple of buddies they headed across country in a 1936 Ford sedan and got to Bakersfield CA only to hear of Japan’s surrender.

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