By Bob Jamison

          They are many; some you might never hear of. But they were there to defend our freedom and some gave their lives to ensure it. You might stop for a minute to look at some of the names of those that are still lying beneath the sea or in the battlefield cemeteries in foreign lands. Most of these names are on the monuments of towns, football fields, post offices and bases of American flag poles.

          A few that I recall most vividly are local heroes that I might have mentioned before. But they deserve the remembrance from each of us who owe the protectors of our liberty and our precious freedom which we now enjoy.

          Our part of Texas has had its share of sorrow with the fallen heroes of all wars. Most recently is the hero of Iraq, a young soldier Burris from Hardin, Texas. He was memorialized by hundreds of citizens that lined the roads waving our nation’s flag as his funeral possession passed.

          But there are others that survived the great wars that threatened our very existence. However, let us remember those threats are with us still today. It might not be a Hitler or ToJo or Mussolini, but the threat of our lives and our home land is no less. Let’s hope we never forget that. If it is not the invasion from foreign lands it might be the invasion within our land! Christianity is a target for some that might believe it is evil. My belief is that this nation and its Constitution is based on the guidance and dictates of our forefathers and  the Holy Bible.

          Take for instance the heroes of WWII in the historic Battle of Leyte Gulf. I shall never forget an afternoon I spent with two great veterans of that battle. One most of us remember was the late Leonard Waldrop of Liberty, Texas, (winner of the Navy Cross…just short of the Medal of Honor). He was a naval aviator that flew TBF (torpedo, bomber, fighter) Avenger airplanes off the tiny carrier St. Lo in that famous battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippine Islands.

          Orders from Admiral Sprague were to spread shielding smoke around their small task force. Then he ordered the launch of every aircraft from all three jeep carriers to attack the major portion of the Japanese navy approaching to bombard our landings on Leyte Island of Luzon in the Philippines. Our troops were on shore and helpless against a naval bombardment of enemy ships that were carrying eighteen inch guns. But the small task force “Taffy Three” and their tiny carriers and destroyers with only six inch guns were the only hope they had.

          They flew many strikes with the entire ordinance available. Anti personnel bombs, machine gun strafing and armor piercing bombs included all they had. Waldrop said that sometimes he flew straight into the Japanese ships with no ammunition just to keep their heads down. The last time he landed before a Kamikaze Zero hit their ship; his left wing had a hole you could have thrown a refrigerator through. They abandoned ship after the explosion in shark infested waters and were rescued hours later just in time. Amazingly, the Japanese naval invaders turned and ran.  

          A WAC (Women Auxiliary Corps) had a most interesting career from this area. She retired after twenty four years in the military service as a Lieutenant Colonel. The majority of her duties during WWII, Korea and Viet Nam were as an intelligence officer. That was primarily because she was muliti lingual speaking fluently French, German, Spanish, Viet Nam dialects and some Japanese plus English. Actually, she was born near Haiphong, French Indo China (North Viet Nam today). Her mother was from Dresden, Germany and her father was an engineer from France working there for the French. He died when she was a child. He was buried in Hanoi.

          Her mother married an American from Texas she met where both worked for the Standard Oil Company. She brought with her to that marriage this six year old child wonder that was known as Anne Marie Doering.  Anne Marie graduated salutatorian of Dayton High School where she lived with relatives since the age of fourteen.

          Anne Marie served not only in Viet Nam intelligence but also followed closely with MacArthur’s units during WWII operations in the Philippines (Leyte), Manila, New Guinea, Australia and Japan. Then served in Saigon G2 (intelligence). She retired in her hometown’s alma mater, Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. She passed away and was buried with full military honors at Fort Sam Houston in SanAntonio, Texas while wearing a host of medals including five battle stars and the Bronze Star with a V for valor.  

          Let us all not forget the veterans of all services. They are all heroes in our eyes as well as the home front folks that supported them and continued to do so. God Bless Them All.