As is my tradition on Memorial Day for the past few years, I am publishing a post relating to my dad, Ronald Allen Myers. In 1945, he was killed in action in Czechoslovakia…now the Czech Republic.
After he graduated from High School in Jackson Michigan, my dad attended the Jackson Community College for a while before attending Michigan State College (now University). He didn’t have any money so he did what he could to get by. In this case, he worked as a soda jerk in a drug store…sometimes sleeping on a pallet in the back room. It was during the Great Depression and very few people were prosperous. This photo was taken by my mom in 1936 and although there isn't a note on the back of the photo, its almost a certainty that that painter on the ladder is my dad.
My mother, Elizabeth had graduated from the St. Joseph’s College of Nursing in Detroit and she was her second phase of training at Mercy Hospital in Jackson… One day she stopped into a drug store near the hospital. She was feeling ‘kind of down’ so she ordered a cherry Coke from the young fellow behind the counter. I think that you can guess who served her that Coke and who cheered her up… The rest, as they say, ‘is history’.
Dad graduated from Michigan State in 1938 with a major in soil conservation and a minor in forestry. My parents got married in January of 1939 and my dad got a job with a fish hatchery in Wolf Lake Michigan. They lived in a little trailer on site… After a bit, he was accepted as a State Conservation Officer and the couple were able to share some great experiences in the wilderness areas of Michigan. After the attack on Pearl Harbor and war broke out, my dad joined the Army in 1942.
In the meantime, nature had taken its course and in 1942, while they were living in a rental house in or around St. John’s Michigan, yours truly entered their lives…
The first family photo above is of my parents and chunky little me and it was taken in late 1942 or early 1943. The second one is of me ca, 1944 being held by my dad. My dad had his college degree and as a consequence the Army sent him to officer’s school for a while…until they discovered that he was color blind. At one point my mom and I spent some time in Killeen Texas where dad was in training.
Then in January of 1945 my dad was shipped out to the European Theater to fight the German Army and to help end the war.
My dad was KIA (killed in action) near Pilsen, likely around the town of Tesov Czechoslovakia on May 6, 1945, about 3 weeks after this photo was taken. The War in Europe ended 2 days after he was killed… I had not yet reached my 3rd birthday.
So what does this photo have to do with my dad? Some years ago I was contacted by David Foud, a local historian and researcher from Pilsen, who was and is involved in the development of a Virtual Memorial for the American soldiers who died fighting to liberate Western Czechoslovakia. David provided me with the photo of my dad with the Army column as well as other related information. To learn more about David’s efforts, you can go to his website at http://www.mnofu.com/. But I still haven’t explained the photo have I?
On May 6, 1945, the day my dad was killed, American forces arrived in Pilsen. It was the last place where the Allied troops reached on their march east. With the Russians and Communism dominating the country until 1989, no one could or dare to celebrate the liberation of the area by American Forces. However, every May since 1990, Pilsen has held a Liberation Festival honoring the American forces who ended the German occupation. From what I can determine, this is the biggest annual event that take place in Pilsen…now part of the Czech Republic. To learn more, go to Liberation Festival 2023 - Fotogalerie - Liberation Festival Pilsen (slavnostisvobody.cz). There are lots of photos with really large crowds celebrating the event…
Thanks to all who have made the greatest sacrifice to protect us as well as those who continue to fight for our freedom…
God Bless America and Take Care
David Myers, aka Big Daddy Dave