World War II was one of the most tumultuous times in the history of this Earth. The generation who survived, also known as “The Greatest Generation” helped forge the landscape for the world we live in today. Any time we can take time out to appreciate the sacrifices made by servicemen in the United States Armed Forces we should. Memorial Day is one of those opportunities to reflect on the events and people shaped by World War II.
The government finally acknowledged one of the heroes involved, a man named Wencel Bohr who served in the Air Force and was involved in the first bombing run into Tokyo on August 8, 1945. He survived the raid as a B-29 bomber despite his plane being struck by flak.
"We were coming over Tokyo, and all the anti-aircraft went off like mad," said Bohr. "It hit us real bad; it knocked out an engine, and that forced us to drop and lose speed."
The plane withstood more damage after the plane lost a rudder after colliding with another plane in mid-air. The pilot held the plane and unit together to safely land on Iwo Jima.
Bohr was supposed to receive medals for his role in the devastating bombing campaign on Tokyo, but the medals never came. Bohr never concerned himself with seeking out his honors. Second Congressional District Rep. John Kline and his staff were not pleased with the idea of a hero not getting his due acknowledgement. They filed for an inquiry to get Bohr his medals -- the inquiry a success, Kline presented Bohr his Presidential Unit Citation earlier this month.
In a news release Kline wrote:
"The freedoms and liberties we and so many around the world cherish are owed to the blood and sacrifice of countless Americans like Mr. Bohr, a member of the ‘greatest generation,’ who answered his nation’s call in pursuit of freedom and a safer world.”
Bohr, who is now 87, currently lives in Eagan, Minnesota. He gladly displays the medals now so his grandkids can learn more about the brave men and women who served during the war.
"Believe it or not, the kids look at me differently. I’m not just an old man anymore," he said with a laugh.
The heroics of those involved in this world-changing event are well-documented -- as a society we need to make sure we keep in touch with those events and always appreciate those still alive who helped shape those moments.