My father, Melvin (Bub) Guy DeGarmo, was born February 12, 1917, in Early, Iowa, to Edna Stocks DeGarmo and Guy DeGarmo. He had four sisters, Ruby, Tat, Jean, and Judy, and one brother, John. He graduated from Early High School May 24, 1934. He attended Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa.
My father enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941 and was stationed at Ft. Snelling, Minnesota, where he was a corporal in the Military Police. He had met my mother, who was a beautician in Early, Iowa. He married my mom, Mildred Ihry from Royal, Iowa on February 2, 1942, in St. Paul, Minnesota. My father attended Officer's Candidate School and was commissioned. He was transferred to Headquarters of the Military Police. There he was an instructor in Judo and weapons. He perfected the "DeGarmo functioning board", which was recommended by the Army Field Manual for faster training of men in the use of light and heavy machine guns.
In August of 1943 he transferred to the Air Corps to receive pilot training. He received his wings at Ellington Field, Texas, on April of 1944. Here he chose the C-47 transport fur further training. He left the United States on October 6, 1944, from Florida and arrived in India October 19, 1944. He was based at Tulihal Airstrip in India (the China-Burma-India Theater). He completed 25 missions in the 17 days after his arrival.
He was copilot of his C-47 cargo plane on a drop mission in support of Indian and British troops over Kabaw Valley in Northern Burma, when his cargo plane was shot down by a Japanese fighter plane. No identifiable remains were ever found! He was 27 years of age. His name is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Military Memorial in the Philippines. My mother received the Purple Heart posthumously from FDR.
I am his only child, a daughter. I was two years old at that time. Growing up, I always thought my father would return and come to our door one day, after suffering from amnesia and living with natives in Burma. My mother had remarried, and I worried, "What would happen when my "real" Dad returned?"
In 2006, 62 years after my father's plane was shot down, my mother passed away, and I acquired an old cedar chest from her attic. What treasures! The "wall of silence" had been high all my life! This cedar chest broke down that wall, and I met my father through that old cedar chest: in letters my parents had exchanged, sympathy cards, newspaper articles, and WONDERFUL photographs! He is forever young in these photos! I learned that he never got my two year old pictures. They were in the cedar chest - returned, never opened.
Looking back I wish my father had grown old with my mother. I wish I could have gone to a baseball game with my father. I understand he liked baseball. I wish I could have had long walks on the beach with my father. I wish I could have shared a good book with my father. I wish my father could have walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. I wish my father had known my husband, Ken. I know they would have liked each other. I wish my father had known my children, and they had known their grandfather. I wish I could give my father a big hug and tell him that I love him and miss him so much!
You are not forgotten, Dad!
– Freedom is not free! Thank you to all our vets! –
Michal (Mickie) DeGarmo Hansen