Thursday, November 6, 2008
In observance of Veterans Day, the Ingram Library at the University of West Georgia will host a photograph exhibit, “Images of Small Town Americans in World War II,” from Tuesday, Nov. 4 through Friday, Dec. 12. The exhibit is free and the community is welcome to attend.
The personal collections of 18 men and women who served in Europe, the Pacific and North Africa in World War II documents a pivotal time in these soldiers’ lives and in American and world history.
In 2000, Smyrna resident Patricia Burns started collecting veterans’ oral histories and historical war items for the Smyrna Museum. The photographs in the exhibit were contributed from the veterans’ personal collections.
“These pictures show their youth, vibrancy and contribution during World War II, which forever changed them and the world,” said Burns. “They are also a reminder of so many young men and women who never made it home to grow old.”
The photographs tell the stories of U.S. Navy Signalman Grady “Pete” Burnette, First Lieutenant Dorothy “Dot” Bacon, Technical Sergeant Edward LaPorta and Private First Class Arthur Crowe, Jr.
Burnette hitchhiked from Powder Springs to Atlanta to join the Navy and fought in the Battle of the Java Sea, a major naval Pacific campaign of WWII, on a small destroyer. When the Japanese sank the small destroyer, he was captured and made a prisoner of war for more than three years.
Bacon, of Sumter, SC, served as a nurse in an English hospital during the war, where she worked long hours patching and suturing patients when the surgeons were too busy to do it.
LaPorta, an Italian immigrant, was one of 20 men in his company of 220 to survive the invasion of North Africa. Taken prisoner by the Germans, he was confined to camps in Italy and Germany. On transfer from one German camp to another, he refused to abandon a sick friend, pulling him on a make shift sled and then carrying him the remaining 80 miles, saving his life.
Crowe dropped out of The Citadel to join the army and participated in the Invasion of Normandy where he drove a truck off a landing barge and nearly drowned.
On an advance survey team in the Cherbourg Peninsula, he encountered a retreating German division and using the code word “serenade” helped communicate an order to attack that ultimately launched 800 artillery shells within a 20-second period.
Ingram Library hours are Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 p.m. – 2 a.m.
For more information, call 678-839-5337.