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Honoring Our Heros

Lt. Col. George C. Winn 95

Lt. Col. George C. Winn is a distinguished veteran of three wars, namely, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War serving 31-plus years with three years in the U.S. Navy and 28 years in the U. S. Air Force. Winn received 21 awards and decorations. The most notable awards are the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Air Force Commendation Medal. In addition, he received four foreign decorations including the RV Chuong-My Medal which was authorized by the President of the Republic of Vietnam personally and the Khmer Republic National Defense Medal both of which are rarely awarded to non-citizens of the issuing country as well as the Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal and the RVN Staff Honor Medal.

Winn was born to his parents, Jessie and Melba Winn, in Cere, CA, February 6, 1924. Winn always demonstrated academic excellence in each educational institution finishing at or near the top of his classes. He completed high school in San Jose, CA shortly after Pearl Harbor and enlisted in the U. S. Navy in 1942. Upon completion of Boot Camp Training at San Diego, CA, he was selected for Aviation Machinist Mate School at Norman, OK, where he became an instructor. Winn next graduated from the Naval Air Gunnery School in Purcell, OK, followed by assignment to Vero Beach, FL, where he had flight duty in various naval aircraft such as the Douglas Dive Bombers (SBD), the Brewster Buccaneer (SB2A) and the Curtis Hell-Diver (SB2C). He was sent to Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA, with orders to join Task Force 58 being formed at Espiritu Santos, New Hebrides, in the South Pacific; however, because of a mix-up in his pay records, he could not be deployed. Winn subsequently entered the Navy’s Officers Training Program, V-12, at the Montana School of Mines in Butte, MT, for a pre-engineering course and was then sent to Northwestern University, in Evanston, IL, to attend Supply Officer’s School. After V-J Day ended WWII with Japan, Winn was honorably discharged in 1946.

In 1947, Winn returned to San Jose, CA, where he received a B.S. Degree in Business Administration from San Jose State College after which he worked for a year in Montana selling ALCOA aluminum building products. Shortly after the USAF became a separate service, he applied for OCS and was commissioned at Lackland, AFB, TX; however, instead of becoming a military pilot which had been his life-long dream, he was assigned to the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) which focused on conducting investigations into criminal, fraud, counterintelligence and other internal security concerns. Winn completed the OSI Basic Course and then spent the next 11 months at DO 19, Travis AFB, CA, conducting background investigations and working on criminal cases. He was then deployed to Misawa, AB, Japan, to serve at the Chief Criminal Division, FEAF DO 7 followed by assignment to DO 16, Hill AFB, UT, with duty on the District’s Criminal Desk. Upon graduating from the Army Language School in Monterey, CA., where he studied Japanese and returning to Japan, his next assignment was to serve as the Detco of FEAF District 6’s Tokyo Detachment. Next,

Winn was selected to attend the Army’s CIC Advanced Japanese Language School at Camp Drake where he qualified both as Interpreter and Translator. He then was assigned to serve as the first Source Control Officer in FEAF monitoring the operations of all counterintelligence agents in central Japan. In this capacity, he developed a Standard Operating Procedure which became the first Source Control Manual used throughout the Far East. Then he served as the Detco at Ardmore AFB, OK, followed by being sent to the University of Southern CA, Los Angeles, CA, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. His next assignment was to DO 4 where he served as the District Training and Firearms Officer, Washington Area OSI Reserve Training Officer and Assistant Liaison Division Officer. For his third deployment to Japan, he first served as the Detco, Detachment 4608, Army Field Station, Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan, and was reassigned to Detachment 4606, Misawa AB, Japan, as Detco with responsibility for both the island of Hokkaido and 11 northern prefectures of Honshu. After an assignment as a Senior Inspector, Headquarters, OSI, at Washington, D.C., he was selected to become a District Commander. His last assignments in OSI/AFOSI were as Commander, OSI, District 24, Chicago, IL, OSI District 20, McChord AFB, WA, OSI District 50 RVN, OSI District 71, Greece and as Commander, OSI District 19, Travis AFB, CA.

Winn worked primarily in the Criminal Investigations sector of OSI as well as in the areas of Counterintelligence and Counterespionage. Planning and executing successful CI/CE operations were most exciting to him. He assured that his people got recognition for their involvement in such critical and dangerous operations. After retiring medically in August 1985, he went to Sacramento State College where he completed a second Master’s Degree program in Criminology.

Winn and his wife, Colleen, were married for 37 years before she passed away, and they had two sons, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He and his second wife, Charlene, were married 25 years before she passed away. Winn at age 95 still enjoys restoring antique cars and playing bridge. Since retirement, Winn has provided leadership to several veterans’ organization serving as President of the Association of Former Officers Special Investigations Special Agents (AFOSISA) and President of All 3 Wars Veterans Association. Winn is currently serving as the Executive Secretary and Financial Officer of the Three War Survivors League and its Last Man Standing Club. Winn’s reflections on this military service are, “It was a distinct privilege to serve my country. I truly feel that I found a niche where I could contribute to national security. I really enjoyed serving in the military, and that is why I continue to support patriotic military service organizations in every way possible. I have been blessed all of my life.”

Henry D. Cobb 96

Henry Cobb was born at Mt. Meigs, AL, June 20, 1923, to his parents, George Washington Cobb and Margaret Hester Robinson. He was reared at Coosada, AL. He attended Holtville High School at Elmore County, AL, and worked for Durr Drug Company in Montgomery, AL, stocking supplies from the warehouse to drug stores throughout AL and western FL until he was drafted into the U. S. Army Air Corps in September 1942. Cobb was sent to the Army’s Ft. McClellan at Anniston, AL, for training. Cobb trained as a gunner on a B-24, and he was later selected for pilot training, was sent to college at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point and eventually became a B-17 pilot. He trained learning to fly in an open cockpit in a Stearman bi-plane at Thunderbird II Airfield in Scottsdale, AZ. Once while training, he attempted an outer loop, almost running out of altitude flying too low hitting some cacti, and later while instrument training on the legendary “Bamboo Bomber,” he almost ran out of gas on a training flight when he flew into Mexico by mistake. He qualified on the B-17 at Las Vegas Army Airfield in the fall of 1944, and then he completed his final phase B-17 crew training at Dyersburg Army Airfield in Tennessee before being sent overseas.

Assigned to the 8th Air Force in early 1945, he flew the B-17 from England to Germany on hazardous bombing missions during the latter stages of WWII. After bombing missions in Europe ceased in April, 1945, Cobb was sent to Randolph Field in San Antonio, TX, to begin training on the B29. During his training, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred, effectively ending the war and Cobb’s B29 training. He never flew the B29 in combat. After serving for three years, Cobb was discharged from the Army at Keesler Field, MS, at the rank of Lieutenant in 1945. He remained in the Air Force Reserves for a several years after the war eventually being selected for the rank of Captain before his job and family duties forced Cobb to leave the Reserves.

Cobb and his wife, Hazel Cronier Cobb, were married for almost 66 years, and they had two daughters, one son and seven grandchildren. He returned to Montgomery, AL, where he resumed working for the Durr Drug Co., followed by employment with the Johnson Wax Co. at Wisconsin for 28 years covering sales and distribution throughout the United States. In 1976, Cobb’s third career was setting up and leading the MMI Outdoor, Inc, in Montgomery, AL, specializing in manufacturing tents and backpacks including customers such as the U.S. Forest Service wildland fire fighters and the United States military. Cobb and his wife traveled throughout the world, and he enjoyed fishing and playing golf. He retired from business in 2008 with the passing of his beloved Hazel.

Cobb’s conclusions about military service were, “I was always proud of my

father who was in WWI. My parents had four sons serving in WWII. He added, “I definitely believed that hard work and honesty pay off.”

William H. Daughtry 96

William H. Daughtry, a WWII serviceman, was born September 24, 1922, in rural Pike County, AL, near Troy to his parents, Jack and Minnie Daughtry. His youth was spent living in a rural setting where he enjoyed rowing a boat taking people out on a pond to fish. He graduated from Shellhorn High School and worked for a while for the Alabama Power Company before he volunteered to serve in the U. S. Army during WWII.

His Basic Training was at Camp Crowder, MO, with more training for work with the Army Signal Corps at Ft. Eustis, VA and Camp Holabird, MD. He was sent to Ft. Sam Houston, TX, and then deployed to the island, Leyte, Philippines, for eight months with equipment packed waiting for the invasion of Japan. In the Signal Corps, Daughtry worked as a telephone lineman with the 304 Signal Operations Battalion attached to the Eighth Army in the Pacific Theater. Working with a truck driver and a helper, he strung lines and maintained them for the Eighth Army Headquarters. Although he was not in combat, his vital work involved

assisting the commanders for the Eighth Army with important communications. Because the Atomic Bombs were dropped on Japan, he was not involved with an invasion. Daughtry served in the occupation of Japan arriving there even before the treaty ending the War with Japan was signed and continued serving in Japan for six months before being discharged in February, 1946, completing 32 months of active duty.

Daughtry’s self-deprecating conclusions about his WWII service are, “As we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, I really didn’t think that I would ever get home. We stayed on the crowded Liberty ship, a type of cargo boat, for 35 days crossing the Pacific Ocean including the Equator resulting in my loss of 35 pounds. I had no idea what we were getting into. I really just did what I thought was best to do. I guess that I was lucky to be assigned to the Eighth Army, and if it had not been for the Atomic Bombs, I would not have had a chance.”

Daughtry married Ethel Kelley while on a seven day leave during 1944 before he was deployed, and they were married for 66 years. They were apart for 16 months during WWII. They had three children, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. After the War, he returned to work as a lineman with the Alabama Power Company advancing to foreman, working for 17 years as a supervisor for the Montgomery, AL, district and retiring after 46 years in 1987. Daughtry and his wife spent many years touring the United States, and he has enjoyed playing golf.

Thomas E. McFadden 97

Thomas E. McFadden is a 97 year-old African-American who served in the Smoke Jumpers, a specialized paratrooper unit during WWII. Thomas was born on May 14, 1922 to James and Amanda McFadden, two educators living in Thomasville. After graduation from Thomasville High School, he attended Alabama A & M College where he was matriculating when he was drafted into the U. S. Army to become trained as a paratrooper. He was sent to Ft. Benning, GA, for training in an all African-American paratroopers unit. After training at Ft. Benning, McFadden was one of two minority candidates selected for Office

Candidate School (OCS), and among 212 candidates, only 75 graduated including him.

McFadden was a member of the 555th Paratrooper Infantry Company nicknamed the “’Triple Nickels.” This group was composed of male African-Americans, some of whom were highly educated, professional athletes and previously had some military experience. They were willing to give their lives to defend their country at a time when African-Americans experienced discrimination.

McFadden’s group was called the “Smoke Jumpers” because they were trained to jump into trees and mountainous terrain where fires and smoke were underneath them. They made 1200 jumps resulting in only one casualty, and a Smoke Jumpers Manual was published resulting from this experimental training.

The Smoke Jumpers served from November, 1944, until April, 1945. The unit was created at Ft. Benning, GA, under the command of 1st Lt. James Porter beginning with only 300 and reaching a total 2700 trained men. The rationale for creating this special type of paratrooper was based on the fact that the Japanese were sending unmanned balloon borne weapons to the western coast of the United States. The Fu-Go balloons would release incendiary bombs after three days. The U. S.

Government feared that the Japanese would begin biological warfare using these balloons. Approximately 9,000 such balloons were launched by the Japanese with 342 seen and found in the forested areas of the Pacific Northwest. The Smoke Jumpers in the 555th unit were formed to deal with this threat. McFadden stated, “We knew that we could not fail because we knew that the whole future of minority troops coming into these different positions was fully related to what we would be able to accomplish.” The Smoke Jumpers studied and worked hard leaving no room for failure.

The six weeks of training for paratroopers required a lot of physical stamina and mental determination. Exercises, calisthenics, marches, etc. as well as jumping from a 34 foot and a 250 foot platform with only a harness for protection were stressful. Regular paratrooper training was followed by seven to 10 days of Smoke Jumping which was physically rigorous. Men were trained to jump from an airplane into a forest fire or on to a mountain where they were expected to deal with incendiary bombs.

Liane Young is a historical fiction writer who reveals in her book, Operation Firefly, the amazing story of the smokejumpers of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, the US Army’s first all-black test platoon. McFadden met with Liane Young at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D. C. and shared with audience members his personal experience as a paratrooper.

McFadden’s conclusions about the Smoke Jumpers are, “If we set the standards, we knew that there would be persons who could go far beyond what we were able to do at that point. There would not have been so many African-American generals or general officers that we have now. It made all of the difference in the world.”

After discharge from the Army and using the G.I. Bill, McFadden completed his degree at Alabama A. & M. with a B. S. Degree in biology. He later attended N. C. Central University and earned a Master’s Degree in biology from North Carolina A. & T. State University. He then taught biology at Talladega College in AL. He also became a real estate broker opening and operating McFadden Realty in Mobile, AL, and Family Realty in Greensboro, North Carolina.

McFadden and his wife, Inez, had three children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Looking back over his life, McFadden now concludes, “I found success in the Army. I was fortunate to get trained well. I think that we did pretty well with what we had. I was proud of my children who all finished college.”

Erskine R. Grimes 92

Erskine R. Grimes is a 92 year- old WWII veteran who served in the United States Army.

Grimes was born in Pratt City, a former municipality in a suburb of Birmingham, AL, November 19, 1926, to his parents, Edgar and Jeanie Grimes. His family moved to Montgomery, AL, where his father found employment during the Great Depression. Grimes was working at an optical shop while attending Lanier High School and participating in R.O.T. C. when he was drafted for service into the United States Army.

Because a tornado destroyed his parents’ home in Montgomery, he obtained a hardship delay from active service assisted by the American Red Cross. His Basic Training for service in the Infantry was at Camp Gordon, GA. He was stationed at Yokohama, Japan, from October, 1945, until November,1946, during the early post WWII occupation. While stationed at Yokohoma, he worked in the military’s optical dispensary.

After discharge from the Army, he graduated from a private high school and from Jones Law School at Montgomery, AL. He hoped to obtain a better job by obtaining a law degree, but he never took the Bar Exam or practiced law. For 35 years he worked at the VA in Montgomery, AL. He began as a clerk at the VA in Montgomery and advanced to the GS-9 level working as an adjudicator retiring in 1981. Then Grimes worked painting houses for many years. He took care of his parents during their last years. He and his wife, Joyce, have been married 44 years. He has one stepdaughter, one stepgrandson and one great stepgrandson. They have enjoyed square dancing and traveling throughout the United States.

Grimes modestly concludes about his military service during WWII saying, “I served with pride. I was glad to be there when I was called.”

Joyce Paul Bailey 96

Joyce Paul Bailey is a 96 year-old veteran who served as a welder and a deep sea diver repairing U. S. Naval vessels in the South Pacific during WWII. Bailey was born December 5,1922, in Slocomb, AL, to his parents, George and Callie Bailey. He graduated from Geneva County High School, and for three years he worked as a welder at the shipyards in Mobile until he was drafted into the U. S. Navy. His three months of basic training occurred at the Naval Station Great Lakes (NAVSTA Great Lakes), the home of the United States Navy’s only boot camp located near North Chicago in Lake County, Illinois. Further training in welding and diving was completed at San Diego. He was deployed to New Guinea, the second largest island in the world after Greenland, near the Australia continent where he worked repairing U. S. Naval ships at the drydocks for over one year. While there, General Douglas MacArthur who commanded the Southwest Pacific in WWII (1939-1945) visited elements of the 6th Army.

Bailey saw MacArthur along with Americans on many patrol torpedo (PT) Boats. After a 30 day leave at Australia, he was transferred to the Philippine Islands. Besides repairing Naval ships in drydock, he risked his life diving below the surface into very deep waters to make repairs. One such diver returned to the surface too quickly and died from the bends, a decompression sickness.

When WWII ended and having served for three and one-half years, Bailey traveled to Nashville, TN, and then to Montgomery, AL, where he was discharged. In 1955, he opened Radio Hospital selling appliances and furniture in Montgomery. In 1986, his two sons, Paul Bailey, Jr. and Clay Bailey, opened Bailey Brothers Music near the Radio Hospital. He and his wife, Betty Clay, had one daughter and two sons, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He enjoyed fishing at Lake Martin.

Bailey made a significant contribution to the success of the American military during WWII because his work repairing American ships resulted in these vessels being able to return to the battles in the Pacific assuring victory. Reflecting upon his military service during WWII, Bailey stated, “I did more or less what I had to do. I was happy to do what I was told to do. I didn’t do much to make headlines. I was doing something for the country that I loved.”

Charles E. Morris 94

Charles E. Morris served in the United States Navy during 1943-1946 in World War II. His hazardous-duty service was on the USS Attala, a Haskell-class attack Naval transport. The Attala was used to transport troops and equipment to the fighting zones in the Pacific including Iwo Jima and the Philippine Islands and to bring wounded personnel back to the United States.

Morris was born in 1925, at Cheatham County, TN, and graduated from Cheatham County High School. He took tool and dye classes in Nashville and went to work in a factory that produced bombs for World War II. In the fall of 1943, he was drafted, and after Navy Boot Camp, he was assigned to be a medic. After being trained in Oklahoma for medic duties, Morris was sent to San Diego for further six weeks of training with the Marines, since he would be taking care of wounded Marines later during the War.

After training with the Marines, he was assigned to the U.S.S. Attala, a Haskell-class attack transport of the U. S. Navy and served in the Pacific Theatre. The ship carried troops, supplies and equipment such as smaller boats so that the troops could get to land from where the ship put down anchor or docked. Morris served at the Philippines, Okinawa, Iwo Jima and other islands in the Pacific. His ship received orders to go to Tokyo Bay, but news was received that the War had ended while they were on the way.

At Harding College, after the War, Morris received a B. S. Degree in History and Math. In 1950, he married and moved to Georgia with his new bride, Edna, to teach school. After 15 years of teaching at the same school, the family moved to North Alabama for Charles to continue his teaching career and to get back closer to his parents who lived in the Nashville, TN area. While he was in Alabama, he received his Masters Degree in Drivers Education from the University of Montevallo. Morris’ teaching career included teaching history and mathematics for 40 years and driver’s education for 15 years at high schools.

Morris and his wife, Edna, had two sons and two grandchildren. After retirement, he enjoyed fishing, making 300 blue-bird houses and working with electronics. He preached part time for 25 years at several churches. In retirement, he also enjoyed gardening on a small scale, fishing, making and putting up bluebird boxes all over Lauderdale County, being a deacon at church and going to Atlanta Braves ballgames with his sons and grandson for many years.

Charles said “I was proud to serve my country and was very thankful to survive and return home. Too many did not receive that blessing. I saw too much dying and was grateful when the War ended!”


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