2018 Freedom Medal Honorees Announced — The Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association announced the 2018 Freedom Medal Honorees at a Flag Day ceremony this morning at the Memorial, 4599 W Chester Pike, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania 19073.
The honorees are Marsha Four, US Army Nurse Corps, Vietnam; John Schaffhauser, US Navy, Vietnam; Jeffrey White, US Army, Vietnam; and US Marines Allan Maculey, Lou Camilli and Joe Hinderhofer.
A special presentation of The American Flag was presented in memory of Linda M. Houldin, who was instrumental in creating the Memorial, and it was announced that an education fund of the DCVMA Veterans Education Project in cooperation with Delaware County Historical Society would be made in her name.
The article was originally published Oct. 17, 2009. Russell Boyko passed away in December 2013.
Sgt. Russell Boyko thought the smoke over Berlin was from anti-aircraft shells at first. It was his 17th mission and would have been his seventh over the burning Nazi capital. At 30,000 feet the smoke was near the ceiling of his B-17.
Boyko, who now lives in Upper Darby and attends Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Clifton Heights, was a waist gunner manning a 50-caliber machine gun. His plane was at the front of the formation. As they neared the city, the aircraft began to shake. Water had mixed with the anti-freeze causing an engine to lockup. With just three engines left his pilot chose to forgo the bombing run, break formation and return to Great Ashfield, England, the ETO base of the 548th Squadron of the 385th Bomber Group.
“Not very safe,” said Boyko.
A lone B-17 was extremely vulnerable to enemy fighters.Bomber formations were organized in a way to allow guns from many planes to be concentrated on an attacker. American fighter escorts, of course, would stick with the formation for as long as the gas in their tanks allowed.
“We came close to Bremen. I remember seeing a body of water. I don’t know if it was the North Sea or the Channel. I remember starting to have hope.”
He then saw a German plane with two engines in the distance. It would not have been a front-line fighter and did not attack. It did apparently report the bomber’s position. Nazi fighters soon arrived.
“I don’t know if they were Fock-Wolfes or Messerschmitts,” Boyko said. “They attacked our plane. Our plane went down in a dive.”
The pilot had given a pre-flight order to bail if such an event should happen, which the crew did. The other waist-gunner, Carter, was hesitating at the escape hatch. Boyko gave him a nudge and then followed him out at about20,000 feet.
Boyko said the directions they were given for a bailout were that a count of three before pulling the ripcord would allow them to clear the plane while a count of 10 would make it harder for the enemy to follow his path to the ground to capture him.
He said both he and the other gunner counted to 10 albeit it made little difference. About a half-dozen German militia and civilians managed to get a bearing on them. Boyko said his chute was blossomed on the ground and he had trouble unstrapping it. He heard a gunshot and heard a bullet whistle past his ear. There was a bit of woods a few yards away and he ran into it.
“The Germans kept the woods nice and clean,” he said.
He said a small girl saw him and started screaming. He found himself surrounded and surrendered. He didn’t have a gun and had no intention of resisting.
It was May 8, 1944.
The Germans fed them after surrendering.
“They gave us pea soup,” he said. “It was delicious. The lady was polite. I guess she worked for the Luftwaffe. I looked in her eyes. They were green like pea soup.”
Boyko’s next stop was a prison camp.
He said the camp had four “lagers”, or sections, with 10 barracks to a lager and 300 men to a barracks.
He isn’t sure where the camp was although it was near the North Sea.
“I remember the North Sea during a thunder storm. The lighting would come straight down. It wouldn’t fork like we are used to”.
Camp life was not like Hogan’s Heroes. Each barracks had only two doors at the front and the back. To get to roll call, men would try to beat the crowd by climbing out the large windows. The Nazis gave an order forbidding this. “One or two” who ignored it were shot, he said.
After six months, they heard Russian artillery. The Germans piled the prisoners into boxcars and sent them west. After a few weeks they heard the artillery again. This time the Germans didn’t use boxcars but had them walk.
During one meal break he saw a familiar face. It was Albert Goodman with whom he attended Benjamin Franklin High School in Philadelphia.
“He was in the chow line ahead of me,” Boyko said. The meal was chicken. “He came back in the line. Is aid ‘Albert you are looking good’ and he was. He was in the ground forces not the air forces.”
Goodman was Jewish. Boyko asked if he said any prayers like the Our Father. Boyko said Goodman told him he said something like it.
Boyko said that during the walk he saw a large group of young girls in Ukrainian costumes but didn’t get a chance to talk to them. He said a few prisoners stole chickens for food. He said in April1945 they were told President Franklin Roosevelt had died. The prisoners went to attention out of respect.
Russell Boyko was freed on May 8. He was promoted to staff sergeant during his time in the camp. He lived in Southwest Philadelphia for 50 years attending Protector BVM, a church his mother was instrumental in starting, before it was combined with Saints Peter and Paul.
He would eventually work at the Philadelphia Navy Yard from which he would retire.
Dennis James Murphy, who was killed in action in Vietnam, will be honored with a casket flag raising ceremony, 5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 12 at the Delaware County Veterans Memorial, 4599 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, Pa. 19073.
Murphy, who was graduated from Darby-Colywn High School in 1966, is a recipient of the Silver Star.
2017 Freedom Medal HonoreesInterviewed— Barbara Ann Zippi has let us know that John Ricciutti interviewed this year’s Freedom Medal Honorees at the Delaware County Veterans Memorial rather than at Radnor Studio Channel 21 where he usually conducts them for his Veterans speaks program.
You can wait for it to appear on public access Channel 21 or watch it on YouTube embedded below.
This year’s program was done in loving memory of Linda Houldin who was instrumental in causing the memorial to come to be.
Hobey Baker, America’s first great hockey player, came from Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
Hobart Armory Hare “Hobey” Baker starred for Princeton from 1910 through 1916 turning down a offer of $20,000 to play for the Montreal Canadians. He enlisted in the Army Air Service in 1917 for World War I and shot down three of the enemy. He was killed in a plane crash in France just a little over a month after the war ended.
F. Scott Fitzgerald admired him and based a character in This Side of Paradise on him.
Hat tip VFW magazine
Hobey Baker was America’s first great hockey player
War Cemetery Reopens After Renovation — Poplar Grove National Cemetery near Petersburg, Va. was transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service in 1933. It was final resting place for 6,100 war dead, mostly from the Civil War,
The Park Service did not have the skill set to maintain the graves and the grounds fell into severe disrepair.
Last month, an 18-month renovation ended and the cemetery is now as it should be.