Today, we honor our veterans who have courageously served in
the armed forces. As a tribute to their
service, below are tales of service from UPMC Senior Communities
are veterans. We salute our seniors who have served and all
of our veterans who have fought for our freedom!
Black, Sugar Creek Station:
George Black remembers one harrowing experience: A gunshot went through one
side of his B-25 Bomber and continued out the other. George had just bent over to do something
when the shot passed through the aircraft!
The pilot was also narrowly missed by the gunfire. At just 19-years-old, George was drafted into
the Air Force and served as a gunner during World War II. George Black comes from a military
family. He and his father both served
and one of his sons is a retired Air Force Major. George is very proud of his service to our
- Curtis Cornell,
Seneca Hills Village: On New Year’s
Day in 1945, Curtis Cornell arrived at the Battle of the Bulge. His squadron was given white sheets and
instructed to lie in the snow and blend in until they thought it was safe They were pulled back to regroup before being
told that it was safe to move on.
Unexpectedly, his squad was hit by artillery, mortars, and machine guns. One of his best friends was one of the many
casualties. Curtis and his squadron were
ordered to sleep standing up because they couldn’t lie down on the frozen
ground. Because of these extreme conditions,
Curtis was taken to a hospital in France where he was diagnosed with Trench
Foot. He was then transferred to an
English hospital where he spent three months.
The war ended while he was hospitalized.
Curtis received the Purple Heart.
He still suffers the effects of this condition.
Cunningham, Beatty Point Village: “I’m just a kid from Homewood, what
am I doing here?” That’s what Jim
Cunningham recalls thinking when he was flying a 5,000 horsepower four-engine
bomber, the B-24 Liberator, when he was just 21 years old. “Well, my country was planning something big
in the next few months and they needed all the manpower they could get – even
21-year-olds from Homewood.” On June 5,
1944, Jim’s target was a crossroads near the town of Caen, France that was
directly on the path of forces landing on the Normandy beach. Unfortunately, a solid cloud cover prevented
Jim and his crew from seeing the target thus preventing them from releasing the
bombs they carried as there was the danger of hitting the invasion forces. “I’m sorry to say that our efforts to aid the
invasion were not successful that day, but we made up for it on succeeding days
and we did our small part in ridding the world of that monster, Hitler” says
Goldner, Sherwood Oaks: Retired
Colonel, Teresa Goldner, was a registered nurse and physical therapist in the
1940s. During this time, she worked at
St. John’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, and D.T. Watson. She is honored to have worked with Dr. Jonas
Salk and to treat children with polio.
Teresa joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corp in 1945 and served in Hawaii,
Japan, and Okinawa until the end of World War II. She joined the Occupation Forces in Japan and
was awarded the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon and the Victory Medal. Teresa joined the Air Force as a Captain in
1950 and served until 1987. Teresa
served as Associate Chief of Biomedical Science Corp and Consultant to the Air
Force General in matters pertaining to physical therapy. Teresa also received the Merits Service Award
and Accommodation Medal. She retired
from the military as a Full Colonel and remains a lifetime member of the
American Physical Therapy Association.
Heckmann, Cumberland Crossing Manor: “It took three days and there were bombs and bullets
all-day, every-day.” Eugene Heckman,
dressed as a French farmer, went behind enemy lines to deliver explosives so that
our troops could take out the artillery that the Germans had put up after
taking over France. Eugene was a Platoon
Sergeant in the Army and speaks English, French, and German. Eugene received the Cross of War Medal from
France. This medal is bestowed upon
soldiers who distinguish themselves by acts of heroism in combat with the
Stromick, Cranberry Place: In
1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt administered the oath of allegiance to
Ann and her fellow classmates in the U.S. Army Cadet Nursing Program. A special communication link was established
between Washington, D.C. and the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of
learning so that the nurses could be inducted.
Ann served at Fort Dix, N.J. until 1947.
She is very proud of the fact that she was able to serve our country
during wartime. Both her daughter and
son-in-law were career officers in the U.S. Air Force and two of her grandsons
are presently serving, one in the Air Force and the other in the Army Rangers.
Labels: aging, armed forces, independent living, Senior communities, skilled nursing facilities, veterans, Veterans Day