Meadow Ridge Celebrates Veterans in November
For Bob Wylie, it was never a question of whether he would join the service. After all, his father set the example, having served in World War I and enlisting in World War II before Bob did.
In addition, it was a time of high patriotism.
“I think at the time, every young man was anxious to serve,” he says.
He enlisted right out of the Stony Brook School in 1943. He was 18.
“Young men fight wars,” he says. “Old men dictate wars.”
Training and Bomber Missions in England
Bob had an armament and gunnery training and then was assigned to the 8th Air Force in Britain. He said it was either being in combat or being bored.
“And we couldn’t get near the girls because the officers had all the money and the uniforms,” he laughs.
He was assigned to the B17 bomber as a togglier. It was his job to “toggle” the controls that dropped bombs on the target.
Bob remembers his worst mission was over Germany when the lead and deputy lead bombers were knocked out, and his crew was left on their own to bomb without bomb sights.
“It was ruthless,” he remembers, noting that many of the casualties were civilians and that ten times as many German civilians died in the war as British civilians.
Bob flew 25 missions on that tour and was later trained on the B29 Superfortress before the war ended.
The war was especially difficult on Bob’s mother, whose husband, only son, brother and brother-in-law all served in the military.
Return Home to the United States
When Bob returned home, he went to Wesleyan University in Connecticut on the GI Bill. Fortunately, he had matriculated before going to war, so he already had a spot reserved as thousands of other service members were applying to colleges.
He graduated in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree and has associate’s and master’s degrees in political science and history.
After college, Bob joined the business world, working in the manufactured fiber industry, and eventually served as vice president of marketing with both Celanese and Hoechst corporations at one of Germany’s largest synthetic textile companies.
Celebrating Veterans at Meadow Ridge
Bob and his wife have been married for 68 years, and the couple has four children and six grandchildren. They moved to Meadow Ridge in 2015.
He participated in the community’s Veterans’ Day celebration held in the atrium on Nov. 11.
He says he’s often had to clarify to others the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day. Memorial Day is a time to remember the lives lost while Veterans’ Day is a day to honor all veterans who have served.
“Veterans’ Day is more enjoyable,” he says. “It’s a time to reminisce about matters you’ve shared.”
“It’s not boisterous,” he adds. “But it’s enjoyable.”