My father Walter Ershow was a 2nd Lieutenant Bombardier on a Flying Fortress B-17 in World War II, on Crew FH-009-AV 24, in the 20th Bomb Squadron, 2nd Bomb Group of the 15th Army Air Force. They flew 23 missions and miraculously, all survived. Forty years after the War — through great effort in those pre-internet days — the members of the crew found each other and had a great reunion in 1985 or ’86. They each wrote a chapter of memoirs along with wartime photos, and bound up the copies for each of their families and for the Army’s archives. What a treasure this is for their children and grandchildren!
Back in the year 2000, I asked my parents and my father-in-law to put their stories on tape. To help them along, I prepared an outline for them with all the major segments of their lives as well as subtopics for certain stories that I didn’t want them to overlook. They each took those outlines and told all their stories onto a set of cassette tapes. I then put the tapes away for safekeeping. Our parents have all now passed on. A year after each of them passed away, we began listening to the tapes for the first time. What a joy it was to hear their voices again! And what fun the grandchildren have had, listening to their grandparents tell stories they never knew, and listening again to the stories they’d always loved.
Don’t wait too long to capture your parents’ stories. Ask them about the escapades of their youth, their time in the service, their volunteer work and the ventures they tried — while they are still able to remember the details. We’re all growing older and memories fade fast. We can learn so much from the courage, wit and perseverance of those who came before us. If you take the time to sit down with your parents or other relatives, and you get them to tell their story on tape, you will create a wonderful legacy for your family.
Posted with great appreciation to all those who so valiantly served our country in times of War.