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Lest we forget

December 7, 2010
Estherville News

On December 7, 1941 Japan launched an unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States of America. I was 9 years old at the time and I remember it well. My oldest brother Joe Origer, Bob Callahan, Lester Bush and two other friends of theirs all got together and enlisted in the Army Air Corps. They had eight days to report to a base in California. My brother had just bought a near new 1940 Buick so the guys got together and mounted a 35 gallon drum in the trunk (gas was already being rationed) and each of the boys got 5 gallons of gas from the barrels (tractor gas) filled the tank and each got a few gas stamps from the families and left on Tuesday morning for California. They took turns driving and arrived in California on Wednesday night and reported for duty on Thursday morning. They were all assigned jobs, Joe and Bob went to flying school, one of the boys became a navigator, and Lester Bush was a bombardier. Joe was trained as a fighter pilot and after he finished his training they needed navigators real bad. He was a math whiz so they put him through that school as well making him a good fighter pilot with navigation training. He was then made a blind flying instructor and spent the duration of his time during the war training others night flying. Lester Bush was killed during the war and Bob Callahan flew many missions as a bomber pilot with his plane being shot up several times, but he never quit. All five of these boys were at one time farm boys from Emmet County and I feel great pride for each and every one of them.

My sister Imogene's husband Jim Dessel went into the Army and received his training in Arkansas. From there he went to North Africa where he slugged his way up the boot of Italy and all the way to Germany. He returned home after the war was over. My Uncle Ben Amelsburg fought in the Kazarene Pass and was later wounded. He had a steel plate in his head and after some recuperation time, he was released to come home. While he was gone, his wife worked in a war plant in California, kind of a Rosie the Riveter, if you recall the song. My sister Mary was an RN at the time and had just received her commission but the war ended.

I now have six sons of my own, five of which have been in the service. Three of them served their hitch and came home. Two of them, Sam and Larry, are former Marines. Allan was in the Army and Army reserves. Don served 20 years Army retired and Matthew has been in the Army 24 years and counting. This is just to let the world know we raise sturdy boys and girls here in Emmet County, Iowa. The United States should be proud of all the men and women who have given in and of themselves to serve our country and fight for all the freedoms that we have.

John Origer,




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