“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.
“Pat” Flynn joined the Army in 1943, wanting to join the 10th Mountain Division as a skier. Instead, he was trained for combat infantry. He served with the 157th Infantry Regiment, and saw action in Italy and France. After the war, he stayed a civilian for about a year before rejoining the Army for another 20 years. Flynn would see action in Korea with the 9th Infantry Regiment, and in Vietnam as part of the Special Forces.
Interview conducted by James Ramsey
Margie Labedz was the daughter of a World War I veteran who did her part in WWII as a member of the Victory Troubadours, a group of singers and dancers who entertained at local veterans’ hospitals. She also remembered other activities on the homefront such as rationing and air raid wardens. Her future husband, as well as her brothers and her two sons, have served in the military. Labedz is a lifetime member of the VFW Auxiliary.
Andre Proulx joined the Navy shortly after the start of WWII. He was first assigned to a cruiser, the USS Flint, then transferred to the USS Douglas H. Fox, a destroyer. Proulx was assigned to one of the vessel’s 5-inch gun mounts; he survived a kamikaze attack during the Battle of Okinawa. In 2013, he was among several veterans who received overdue medals.
Mario Aiello grew up in Readville (part of the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston) and was drafted into the Army in 1942. He became a Technician 5th Grade, and was part of the 5th Army’s 75th Field Artillery Battalion. Aiello saw action in North Africa and Italy, and would earn a Bronze Star.
This interview was conducted with Aiello’s son, Stephen Duggan, at the Bedford VA Medical Center.
In summer 1943, Richard Somersall had just entered MIT to study aeronautical engineering when the Marines called him into service. Somersall would become a machine gunner for the 21st and 1st Marine regiments, and serve in Guam and northern China.
James Nicholl Jr. joined the Navy in 1944 to honor his father and history teacher. He would serve on several vessels, including an armed cargo vessel and mine sweeper, in Scotland, Russia and the North Atlantic. Nicholl would also serve during the Korean War.
“Fred” Lucontoni was drafted into the Army in 1943, and served in General George Patton’s 3rd Army, 733 Field Artillery Service Battery, as a machine gunner. He remembered seeing “thousands of planes” flying overhead en route to a bombing mission at St. Lo in France; Lucontoni also took part in the Battle of the Bulge.
This interview was recorded at the Bedford VA Medical Center by James Ramsey.
Holocaust survivor, Poland and Russia
Hyman Hipsman grew up in Wlodawa, Poland; after the German invasion in 1939, he went to work for a German war contractor, Bernhard Falkenburg, who saved Hipsman’s life on several occasions. When Falkenburg could no longer protect him, Hipsman went into hiding, and eventually joined a group of Russian partisans. Hipsman would lose his parents, two brothers and sister to Nazi atrocities.