Freedom Fighters; Willard Ward

By Joan Hallmark

Willard Ward says he first joined the Army in 1935 to "get out of the cotton fields." But when Ward joined again in 1941 right after Pearl Harbor, it was to defend his country. Ward was a waist gunner on a B 17 bomber in World War Two. It was on July 4th, 1943, his fifth bombing mission over Europe, when German fighters flew in for the kill. Ward and two other gunners were wounded.

After surgery, Ward returned to his crew and flew twenty more missions before gong back to the U.S. for the remainder of the year. But, as he describes it, he got "antsy" and volunteered to go back to Europe, flying 17 more combat missions before the war was over. At the age of 94, recipient of the Silver Star, Air Force Medal, and Purple Heart, Willard Ward looks back over his service in World War Two with pride.

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