Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Honoring Our Heroes

 


Robert Terry Harper

Robert Terry Harper during three wars, namely, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He served a total of 22.5 years with 4.5 years in the Navy and 18 years in the Air Force. Robert served as an aircraft mechanic and reached the rank of E7 Master Sergeant at the end of his service. He was never wounded in combat; however he did receive one injury, a smashed finger.

Robert was born in Red Level, AL, and he lived there until in 1944. He volunteered at the age of 18, joining the Navy and serving on an air craft carrier during combat in the Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. After WWII ended, he was discharged from the Navy in 1946; however after six weeks of civilian life, he reenlisted in the Air Force. He served at Air Force bases at Maxwell in AL, Westover Air Force Base in MA, Langley Field in VA, and at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station, Rhode Island.

He and his wife celebrated 68 years of marriage December 26, 2018. They had two children, one son who is deceased, and a daughter, Jo Ann Register. They have five grand- children, and they adopted two of those grandchildren and reared them. They also have one great-grandchild.

After retiring from the military, Robert lived and worked in Montgomery at Barber’s Milk Company. He also worked as a truck driver for Winn Dixie grocery stores for 14 years. He worked as a maintenance person at the Evangel Temple for 10-12 years. He drove a blind man to the RSA Towers so the blind man could refill the vending machines. Today he spends time assisting widows in his neighborhood who need help with repairs.

When reflecting on his military career, Robert stated, “It was not joy all of the way, but it was joy along the way.”

Robert Douglas Pike

Robert Douglas Pike is a WWII veteran who served 20 years in the military with 17 years in the Air Force and three years in the Army Infantry. Immediately after graduation from high school at the age of 18 in May, 1943, Pike volunteered to serve during WWII. Pike trained for 15 weeks to become a pilot at Camp Fannin, a U.S. Army Infantry Replacement Training Center at Tyler, Texas. He was then sent to Ft. Mead, Maryland, en route to overseas assignments. His first unit was the 147th Infantry Regiment. After that, he was island hopping in the Pacific with the last island, Iwo Jima where he served in the cleanup operations in areas where the Japanese had hidden. After the War ended, he was shipped to Okinawa, and when he had enough points, he returned to the U.S.A. where he was discharged from the Army in 1946.

Because he always wanted to fly, he reenlisted to serve in the United States Air Force in 1947. He received primary and basic training for pilots at Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX, and advanced single engine pilot training at Chandler, Arizona, flying the P-51 Mustang. He graduated as a single engine fighter pilot. His first assignment was with the 325th Fighter Group. When the Korean War began, Pike was in armament officer school. From there he went to Norton Air Force Base, CA, where he was in charge of the base armament shop and also test flying the P-51, C-47, B-26, B-25 and other aircraft that had been repaired or overhauled. In October, 1951, he received orders for B-26 combat and then went to Korea flying B-26 low level missions. He never was injured, although he flew 50 dangerous missions in Korea, all of which were night missions just above the trees without the aid of lights. The B-26’s were equipped with 8 to 14 50-caliber machine guns and carried loads from 260 to 500 pound bombs. Pike stated that he had no external or internal lights on those missions, just two good eyes and lots of luck. His planes never received any flack or battle damage.

Not only did he serve as a fighter pilot, but, he also served as an instructor for future pilots. After his retirement from the military in 1961, he worked as a commercial pilot for corporations, for the state of AL for five years, and for private plane owners until he began to suffer hearing loss. Pike then worked at the pro shop at the River Run and the Prattville County Club golf courses.

Major Robert Pike received four stars for his pilot and infantry combat service, the Combat Infantry Badge, as well as other ribbons for valor and service. As a flight instructor training new pilots, he was dedicated and successful in this field. Pike told them to listen to what he was telling them and that he would get them through. He possessed that rare ability to teach others the skills in becoming a pilot, and he was always thinking how to solve problems and to do his job better.

Robert was born March 24,1925, at Bradley County, Arkansas. He and his wife, Vera, were married over 63 years before she passed; they had two daughters and one son. Pike states that the love for his wife still shows.

Perron “Buck” Lowe

Buck Lowe, born in Luverne, AL, was drafted in 1942, joining the Army in Ft. McPherson, GA. He was sent to Camp Swift, Austin, TX, and on to Nashville, TN, for maneuver training. After a short visit home, Buck left for Boston where he was loaded for troop transport overseas. After a brief delay, he shipped out to Glasgow, Scotland, and deployed with his group to Ballymena, Northern Ireland, for six months of training followed by a move to London for another week of training and then deployment to Omaha Beach with the 1st Army under the command of General Courtney Hicks Hodges. From Omaha Beach, Buck deployed to Saint-Lô; re-assigned to the 3rd Army under General Patton, Buck’s group began fighting in the Battle of the Hedgerows. World War II carried him through France, Luxembourg and Holland. Buck saw action in the Battle of the Bulge when General Anthony Clements “Nuts” McAuliffe contacted General Patton asking if he could help break out of Bastogne in two days. General Patton responded “Yes;” the troops walked 90 miles to assist in the battle. The march through Europe continued ending in Passau, Austria, where the last shots were fired. Buck was transferred to Germany where he participated in the liberation of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp near Weimar, Germany, and began training for the Pacific Theater; the atomic bomb was dropped, ending the War before Buck completed training. He returned to the U.S.A. on the Queen Mary, reporting to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. From there he returned to Ft McPherson, GA, and was discharged from the Army, December 2, 1945. After discharge from the Army Buck spent 34 years as a truck driver with A.N.O. Motor Freight and Johnson Motor Lines, retiring from Johnson Motor Lines. Buck was married for 18 years to Virginia Ward, and they had two daughters and one grandson.

Buck concludes about his service in WWII saying, “We had to do it. We had to win that War. I was proud to have served my country. One time our own artillery was mistakenly close to hitting us, and I had to jump into a ditch.”

My Grandfather: Buck Lowe

By Chase McMichen

He went to the War at the age of 18.

He killed lots of men, then drank his canteen.

He fought all day through rain, sleet or snow.

He went by the name of old “Buck” Lowe.

He crossed the English Channel

on a ship called “Queen Mary,”

And he often tells stories of the journey that was so scary.

He stormed the beaches of Omaha,

And Oh! The dead men that he saw!

He moved inland, deep into France

On a wing, a prayer and a chance.

Concentration camps he helped liberate

and oh how they did celebrate!

When the War was over, he came home to stay,

Never wanting to venture away.

A hero is this man I know,

He’s my grandfather; his name is “Buck” Lowe

 

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