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They wrote to one another, when possible, while he was sent abroad to fight in various places in Europe, but by 1943 he was stationed in Greenland. Also, by this time, my mom had been promoted to executive secretary at U.S. Steel. Her powerful boss looked upon my mom as a daughter, so much so that he wanted her to enter the “Miss U.S. Steel Beauty Contest” in New York City for the prize money. Thanks to both her looks and her brains — she won.
So with extra money and a strategic plan already set, she humbly requested that her boss at U.S. Steel help pull some strings with the Army to get her transportation to Greenland.
Somehow, she was given security clearance to fly with troops and supplies on a cargo plane to that country, over a treacherous Atlantic Ocean.
Years later, my sister and I still recall Dad’s telling (and retelling) of this story: “Guys came running into the barracks and said — ‘There’s this babe on the runway lookin’ like Hedy Lamarr or Vivien Leigh, and she’s asking for you, Eddie!’ When I got there, sure enough, your mother was standing on a 20-foot pile of icy snow, just like a movie star in a long fur coat. Jean had the moxie to pull off the impossible by herself. I saw her as a kind of soldier, like me. Yep — it was at that moment I knew no mission could fail with her at my side.”
They were married on July 4, 1944, in New York City. My dad took a short leave and wore his uniform, while my mom’s wedding dress was an aquamarine two-piece suit, with hat and veil, which she made at home on a Singer sewing machine. Family on both sides couldn’t comprehend the logic of these two marrying on Independence Day; the war was all but over by then and they had a myriad of wedding day options available to them.
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But my mom and dad, who passed away recently at the age of 94 and 98 respectively, didn’t choose July 4 because Dad was on leave. They picked that day because of how much America’s day of independence meant to them.
The author, a retired attorney, is a published poet, writer, and columnist based in Arizona. [lz_pagination]