Arnold Lessard

 

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.

 

 

 

Walter Gilbert

U.S. Army, 1943-45

 

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.

 

 

Walter Gilbert with his medals, 2018

James Zographos

 

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

 

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.

 

 

Neil and Sadie

George Perrone

 

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.

 

 

Matera, Italy. The tower in the background was used by the Germans.

 

Matera, Italy

 

The tower in Matera, Italy, used by the Germans to shoot at members of the resistance.

 

Father Mirabene, executed by the Germans for helping Jews escape into Austria.

Mary Ida Murphy

 

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.