Walter Gilbert was born and raised in Cambridge. While a student at Northeastern University, he enlisted in the Army Reserve Corps, and was called up in 1943. Gilbert served in the 104th Infantry, 26th (Yankee) Division as a platoon sergeant. He would see action in France, Luxembourg and Belgium, and would earn a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and the French Legion of Honor for his service.
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.
Sadie Stepner was born in Boston in 1914; her father operated the stables in Franklin Park. She remembered Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, as well as life during the Depression and World War II. After the war, she and her family moved to West Natick, and became one of the first families to join Temple Israel.
George Perrone is a first-generation Italian-American. His parents came from the community of Matera in southern Italy. As he grew into adulthood, Perrone learned about the role his Matera relatives played in the resistance movement during World War II. This included skirmishes that drove the Germans out of Matera on Sept. 20, 1943. One relative, an uncle who was a priest, helped Jews escape from Austria into Italy; for this, he was executed by the Germans.
Mary Ida Murphy was born on Prince Edward Island in Canada in 1914. Her family ran a large farm about 100 miles from Charlottetown. Among her earliest memories was a neighbor heading off to fight in World War I; her three brothers served during World War II in the Canadian Armed Forces, as did her husband, who was born and raised in the United States. Mary Ida talks about raising her family both on PEI and in Natick, Mass., where they moved in the 1950s.
Virginia “Ginny” Kirby Sullivan McGowan is the daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother of veterans. Raised in Newton, she worked at the Raytheon defense plant on radio tubes for the military – in those days, top-secret work. She and her sister, Patricia, also performed in USO shows throughout the region, often with their father, Frank Kirby, a professional piano player; they would often visit hospitals and perform for wounded soldiers.