Sunday, December 27, 2015

Raymond Laffey 

82 years old
Born in 1932 in Armstrong Iowa
Currently living in Armstrong Iowa
U.S. Navy Korean War Veteran

Raymond Laffy was about 20 years old when, in 1952, he and three of his buddies from Armstrong, Iowa, joined the military at the same time. Raymond headed to the U.S. Navy, eventually spending four-years of wartime sea duty as a Yeoman on several Navy cargo and tanker ships. “I did mostly clerical work,” he remembers of his time serving our country.

“We went over (to Korea) on the World War II-vintage ARG-4, USS Tutuila (originally laid down in 1943 as the Arthur P. Gorman), a troop transport ship. Even though we didn't see any conflict,” Laffey recalls, “I did my duty to serve my country. Some was good and some was not so good.”

Once back stateside after the war, Laffey returned to his hometown, finding work in a few different jobs. “I worked mostly as a grocery store clerk in Armstrong, he says. “First at the B&M, then the D&M (“Don and Mel”) Food Market on Main Street. He worked with his brother who had purchased the store. Laffey has stayed in town ever since. “I still have family living in Armstrong,” he says.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Virgil Bonner

Age 89
Born 1926 in Iowa City Iowa
Currently living in Estherville, IA
U.S. Army World War II and Korean War Veteran

Iowa native Virgil Bonner was prepared to fight in World War II after being drafted into the U.S. Army December 20, 1944. But, after spending 15 weeks in infantry training, a 10 day furlough home, a five day troop train ride to California and 23 days in transit aboard a troop transport ship headed to the Philippines, Bonner finally arrived in Manila Harbor two weeks before the war ended. He never got to fight in that war. “We all felt good about that,” he remembers. “We were ready for an invasion of Japan, when the A-bomb was dropped and Japan surrendered.”

Bonner did get to witness history aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay September 2, 1945 with U.S. General of the Army Douglas Mac Arthur, as the Commander in the Southwest Pacific, MacArthur accepted the surrender of Japan on behalf of the Allied Powers.

At the age of 19, Bonner reenlisted for a three-year stint in the U.S. Army later in 1945. “You could pick your branch of service,” he recalled, so he picked the Transportation Corps. “I wanted to go to Europe,” he said, but Bonner was shipped out to Oakland, CA. and was picked by his superiors to become a member of the Army's Military Police. “I became a MP patrolling the Oakland Pier,” he said. Eventually, the young MP headed to Germany with the 524th MP battalion stationed in Austria guarding railroad trains moving to and from Russia.

After his honorable discharge in 1948 at Fort Dix, New Jersey, Bonner joined the U.S. Army Reserves. In September of 1950, Bonner remembers, he was called up to fight in the Korean War with the 430th Engineer Battalion, a National Guard unit, he said. Bonner first landed in Japan, where he stayed for a month before heading to Korea.

He ended his military career in 1954.

Story and photo © 2015 Joseph Kreiss Photography