These stories were collected from veterans attending our May 17, 2014 event at the Garden Home Recreation Center celebrating Armed Forces Day. Click here to see all the photos from that event.
Al and Lou Ann Hickman Azar live in SE Portland. Lou Ann grew up in Garden Home along with her brother Doc, in the Hickman area just north of Hideaway Park.
Al served in the Army, Corp of Engineers and trained at Camp Abbot, OR where Sun River is now located.
Al spent 2 years in Europe: England, France, Germany & Belgium. He still has 3 pieces of shrapnel in his knee from a grenade that exploded behind him. He was in France at the time and they did not have x-ray machines and the doctor thought that it had gone through his leg. It wasn’t until about a month later when he could no longer bend his leg that they sent him to England. By then it was too late to remove the shrapnel. He spent 4.5 months in the hospital but could only have about 15 minutes a day treatment because there were not enough resources to handle all the wounded soldiers.
When Al returned to service, he went to France and then onto Namur, Belgium to find his unit. About 10 miles down the road, the Battle of the Bulge was going on. One day, a buzz bomb flew over heading to the battle site. Later General Patton’s army came through between them and the battle and the war was over. It was almost 6 months before he earned enough points to come home.
See Hickman for more family information.
George served in the Army Air Force as a gunner on B24s & B29s from 1943 to 1945. He joined the service to follow an older friend who had joined and he thought it was the patriotic thing to do.
George went into the cadets and went to Denver for 8 months to go to school. He also did KP. Then he was sent to Ft. Myers, FL in the Gunnery. He spent a short time in Georgia in the Motor Pool. While there, two planes crashed because 2 of the 4 engines died on the same wing and 11 people were killed.
On a flight from Georgia to Los Angeles in 1945, the guys were having a poker game on the plane and George didn’t like to play so he went up front to talk to the pilot & co-pilot. The co-pilot wanted to join the poker game so he had George sit in his seat. The pilot was not happy about it but George enjoyed sitting there. At one point, he saw flames coming out of the engines exhausts and asked the pilot about it. He was not happy because the co-pilot had not changed the fuel mixture after take-off and it was too lean, so the pilot had to make the adjustment. After it had gotten dark, George noticed that the tops of the trees were very close and asked the pilot about it. It seems they were flying too close to the side of the canyon and again the pilot had to make adjustments that the co-pilot should have been there to do.
See Babbitt for more family information.
Bert moved to Garden Home in 1952 when he was five years old. He went to St. Anthony School in Tigard and then to Beaverton High School. He was in the Garden Home Boy Scouts.
Bert had two tours of Viet Nam in 1965 and again in 1968. He served as a forward observer and was shot at a couple times. He also worked in intelligence and was sent to jump school with the 82nd Airborne. He took demolition training at Fort Leonard, Missouri and long range sniper training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Bert served in the Army, rank E-7, from 1965 to 1972. He also served in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Fort Riley, Kansas. Bert says “I did it, hope to never do it again.” He says alcohol was a problem when he came home.
Bob was born in Bay City, Oregon, on the coast, and moved here in 1973. He was drafted into the Army and trained at Fort Lewis in special electronics repair. He was sent to Germany where he was involved with processing soldiers returning from Viet Nam as part of the NATO operations. He served less than two years and found the military experience and the travel to be good.
Dean grew up in Garden Home, living on Oleson Road, near the intersection, along with his brother Bob and his sister Joanne. Dean was born in Kelso, WA and arrived in Garden Home as an infant.
Dean recalls his father talking about the scarcity of sugar during WWII. Dean didn’t want to go on to school and felt that the military, the Navy, was a good option. He was stationed in Europe and Asia, mostly in the Far East, serving in the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans. He was an aviation electrician and instructor and loaded bombs, a job he loved. Dean was in the Navy for 20 years and attained the rank of 1st Class Airman Electrician. The squadron disbanded in 1959 with members scattering far and wide.
One of Dean’s friends, loaded down with ship equipment, got blown off the side of the aircraft carrier. After he stripped the equipment away and came to the surface, he was picked up by a destroyer. The rescue response was not “How are you?” but “What did you do with the bag of tie downs?”
With brother Dean and sister Joanne, Bob’s family moved to Garden Home in the early 1943 and lived next to the gas station at the intersection. After one term at Portland State College, Bob and friend Danny Reinhardt decided to join the Navy together.They flew for the first time in a 4 engine prop to San Diego for boot camp. He was sent to Key West, FL for sonar school. The barracks were right on the beach and he enjoyed snorkeling and swimming. He was then stationed on the USS Courtney (de 1021) which left from Newport RI for the North Atlantic. The seas were so rough that everyone got seasick. Bob worked as a mess cook for the Chief Petty Officer, receiving pay and tips.
He traveled to the Caribbean, Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, and circumnavigated the continent of South America and the Panama Canal twice. They practiced looking for submarines using sonar.
During the October 1962 Cuban Missile crisis, they intercepted a Russian ship headed to Cuba. The ship claimed they were going to the Black Sea with sugar cargo but probably had missiles instead. Altogether, the Navy was a good experience.
Don was born in Gilliam County, OR and later moved the Cedar Hills area. He became Principal of Garden Home School from 1968-1974.Don was training for the landing in Japan when WWII ended. A bad back prevented him from joining the Navy but the Army trained him to be a combat engineer for the front lines. He had basic infantry training at Fort Ord and Fort Lewis. He then served with the 13th Combat Engineers of the 7th Division. He had lots of responsibilities in the 1946 rebuilding of the infrastructure in South Korea. He became an assistant to Lt. John H. Holdridge, the S-3 Officer for the Battalion. Mr. Holdridge later in civilian life rose through State Department ranks and retired as U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia.
Overall Don felt the Army was a good experience for him. We appreciate his time in service to our country and to Garden Home as school principal.
Bob served in the Air force as an air policeman. He trained in Lackland Airforce Base, TX and Camp Gordon, GA. He spent three years in Germany and six weeks temporary duty in England.
They would travel on time off by hitch-hiking wherever they wanted to go. One time he and a buddy decided to go to Amsterdam. At a border crossing checkpoint, they met a man who was the representative for Wrigley Chewing Gum and he drove them to Amsterdam and “wined & dined” them, putting them up in a hotel room.
Bob still has a friend from the service who lives in Multnomah and they get together a couple of time a year.
See Feldman for more family information.
In the mid 1900s (1927-1965), Gerry spent summers on their family horse farm off of Oleson Road, the current Frank Estates property. He attended Alameda School in Portland, going on to Stanford and Cambridge in England.
Gerry was our Senator Mark Hatfield’s Chief of Staff for his long tenure and due to Gerry’s effective service, he was often called Oregon’s “Third Senator.” He continues to be active in philanthropy and service to Oregon.
In 1942 Gerry was a student at Stanford and participating in the R.O.T.C. program. Many friends were enlisting in the service and since he was unhappy at Stanford, he reported as a private to Fort Bragg for active service in April, 1943. He served in Field Artillery, 89th Infantry Division with Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe.
Gerry was an acting Sgt. Major of a division artillery headquarters. His most memorable experience was the division’s liberation of the Ohrdruf Concentration Camp.
Gerry served in the Army from 1943 to 1946 becoming a Staff Sergeant. He looks back on the military years as a great learning experience about our fellow man.
See Frank for more family information.
Dr. Ben Jones
Ben was born in Pittsburgh and went to medical school in Philadelphia. He did his internship at University of Oregon Medical School in Portland. He moved to Portland permanently in 1959 and lived in NE Portland. Ben and Louise moved to Hideaway Hills which was part of the old Hickman place in Garden Home in 1977. Ernest and Melba Cook raised Louise, Patti and Warren in Garden Home on Firlock which became SW 78th.
Like other young men, when he knew he was about to get drafted, Ben joined the Navy instead during the Korean Conflict (1950-’53). Ben went in as a physician departing the U.S. out of Parris Island, S. Carolina, and transferring to sea duty at Norfolk, VA. He had a training cruise to Cuba.
Ben shipped out to the eastern Mediterranean as a squadron physician and served as a safety officer for firing practice in a 5 inch gun mount, with severe dangers from loading and unloading live shells. He travelled to Greece, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, Jordan, Israel, Rhodes, France and was sent to Quantico Naval Hospital, Virginia.
Ben says, “The experience was interesting, I never saw combat and was impatient to finish my residency and establish my practice as a physician.”
Hal’s parents and great grandparents lived in Garden Home in their home on Garden Home Road.
Hal was completing his first year at Oregon State College when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps after turning 18. Everyone was patriotic in those days after the Dec. 7, 1941 bombing. He was then called up in 1944 and sent to Amarillo, TX, then Merced Army Airfield in northern California and on to Gila Bend, AZ as an Aviation Cadet learning to fly AT-6 training planes, the same type of plane Japan used to bomb Hawaii.
In 1945 Hal was sent to Victorville, CA. With an engineering background, he served in the Weights and Balances section. One job was to weigh each giant bomber every two months. Hundreds of these bombers were returning to the U.S. after VJ (Victory in Japan) Day and needed processing.
On VJ Day, August 15, 1945, a grand celebration was held in Hollywood, just miles from Victorville. Hal and his buddies enjoyed the Hollywood Canteen, the center of the festivities, where many celebrities performed and socialized with the veterans who were mostly young men. “The most wonderful day of my life!” says Hal. Servicemen could stay there, socialize, and party. Hal remembers dancing with Gloria deHaven to the Jimmie Dorsey orchestra.
At the conclusion of WWII, the Aviation Cadet program was stopped and Hal mustered out of the Army Air Corps in October of 1945. He returned to Oregon State College using the veteran benefit, the G.I. Bill, graduating in 1948.
See Pallay for more family information.
Harry and Jan Pinniger have been long-time participants in Garden Home school events, sports and church. Harry was born in Grants Pass and he and Jan lived on Oleson and now on Florence Lane since moving here in 1962. As a young man, he had a choice of working in the lumber mill or joining the Army.
Harry was sent to the Army’s Fort Knox Kentucky to train as a radio operator and then served 2 years in Germany in the 3rd Armored Division. He wore civilian clothes off base to protect his identity. They worked to keep Russia from taking over the rest of Europe. “We thought we were going to war again when the rioting hit Hungary.” He attained the rating of Specialist 3rd Class and served from 1955 to 1958.
Harry left the U.S. out of Brooklyn, NY on a troop carrier. He returned on another carrier, The Bruckner. He feels it was a fairly good experience and enjoyed the ability to travel on leave to England, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, Norway and Sweden.
Lee was born at St. Vincents Hospital and first lived in Maplewood. When he was about 3 years old, his family moved to Washington Drive and lived next door to the Roshaks.
When he received his draft notice in 1951 he chose to join the Air Force. He trained at Lackland Air Force Base at San Antonio, TX and then at Scott Air Force Base for electronics school. He served in Okinawa, Japan for two years, then two more in the states and in Germany for two years. He then went to New York and re-enlisted.
Lee served doing high speed testing of monkeys, Eglin Air Force Base, FL. He was also involved with the 53 decoy missile project and the gam 77 missile project and re-enlisted again.
Lee was married in 1956 and went back to Germany. He returned to the Portland Air Base and Garden Home 20 years ago, retiring from the military after 28 years.
Lee recalls, “It was a good experience, I was never in a war zone and saw the world.”
A. Eugene Shirley
Gene was born on his uncle’s farm in McMinnville. The uncle had traded gold land claims and bought a quarter section of farm land. Gene’s family moved to Garden Home in 1942 to live in a home where the current 7-11 store is located. Gene was eleven, his mom Thelma worked in the ship yards, his father Allan as an electrician. The family later moved to the intersection of Taylors Ferry and Washington Drive.
Gene heard a talk in class about the draft and he decided to join the Marine Reserves to avoid the Army. In 1950 he was called up for the Korean war and sent to Camp Pendleton. He shipped out of San Diego one month after the war broke out, going to Inchon, Korea. He served as a combat engineer whose jobs were to come in after the infantry. A very difficult time, came close to being wounded several times.
After spending two weeks in Japan on temporary duty, the Army needed a water distillation specialist for the invasion. Gene served in the record cold (30 to 80 degrees below zero) of the Chosin Reservoir march and suffered frost bite to his feet. One of the Chosin Few. He was shipped back to Japan and then on to San Francisco, and serving from 1948 to 1974. He was in the Reserves for 24 years and worried about being sent to Viet Nam but they used draftees instead of Reserves.
The Korean experience was bad and many men died from the cold weather. He is disabled from the frostbite, hearing loss and P.T.S.D. Gene and his wife Bert raised their family in Garden Home.
George Raymond Shirley:
Gene Shirley remembers his brother George who served in the Air Force for 20 years. He was stationed all over the world such as Alaska, North Africa, France and many places in the U.S. George and his wife lived on SW 87th. He died of a heart attack.
Paul and Virginia have lived in Garden Home since 2003. Virginia has been our Co-Chair of our GH History Project.
Paul was commissioned a second lieutenant in Field Artillery after graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1958. He completed parachute and Army aviation training after finishing the Artillery Basic Course. Assignments included command and staff positions in field artillery and aviation throughout his career. His assignments included Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Fort Benning, Georgia, Oregon State University (ROTC), Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Armed Forces Staff College, Virginia, Fort Belvoir Virginia, Vietnam, Fort Wainwright, University of Alaska (Professor of Military Science-ROTC) and Fort Snelling, Minnesota.
The highlight of his career was as a battery commander in the 2nd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery in Germany. He retired in July 1978 as a lieutenant colonel. “I enjoyed most of my postings and have many former colleagues with whom I keep in touch. I keep in constant touch with my West Point classmates and attend many reunions.”