Jerry Wurmser: Remembering my Brothers and Brothers-in-Arms

My brother Sol served in the Navy aboard the destroyer Stoddard, DD566. The Stoddard was actively engaged in many of the Naval battles in the Pacific. 

His most hair-raising story was of his battle station, and how scary it was to be in the “handling room” during a fire fight.  For the uninitiated, the “handling room” on a destroyer is an area in the bottom of the ship where all the black powder is stored. The bulkhead (door) is “battened down”; you’re locked in there, and the job of the crew there is to keep sending bags of black powder up the elevator to the gunners topside.  

Sol, (1914-1994), left Louisville in 1936 during the height of the Depression, taking a job in Los Angeles, and finally ending up in Chicago.  There he met his future wife, Bertha Goodhart. He was already a father at the time he was drafted, in 1943.  After the War, he returned to Chicago where he rejoined his two brother-in-laws in their Goodhart Family business. 

The other members of my family that served during this time were my cousin Monroe, who was a sgt. in the signal corps; and my brother-in-law Moby Blanc, husband of my sister Sylvia. He was called up in the very first draft. 

At this time, the song “Good Bye Dear, I’ll Be Back in a Year,” was very popular.  But alas, before that year was up, war was declared, and those early draftees served much longer than the rest of us. Moby rose to the rank of Captain, and did his tour of duty in North Africa.

Also among the many that I’m remembering today are those men that I served with during WWII (I carry a list of their names in my wallet). At right is a photograph of Edmund Wright, Jack Yowell and “Smitty”.  These three pilots were each shot down; Yowell and Smitty were killed in action, and Wright became a prisoner of war after parachuting over Germany.   In the photo they are standing by the trailer where we received mission briefings.

Editor’s Note:  The author, Jerry Wurmser, is one of the RP’s true heroes.  Jerry flew 66 fighter-bomber missions over Europe during the final years of World War II.  His earlier claim to fame is that he almost broke the sound barrier on June 9, 1944, at 6:05 p.m. over Salisbury, Maryland, and lived to tell about it. At 88 years young, he remains an active member of Lexington’s Jewish community, as well as a doting grandfather and great-grandfather.


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