EDITOR’S NOTE: The following feature series profiles Ellis County veterans killed in the line of service to their country during the 20th century.
The features, researched and written by Perry Giles, are read in first-person voice by area students during the annual Ellis County Veterans Appreciation Day Ceremony as a special way to remember and pay tribute to our friends, classmates and neighbors who gave their lives for our freedom.
“We Were Soldiers Once and Young” will appear every Sunday in the Daily Light through Veterans Day.
We stand on the backs of their sacrifice. Their history is our tradition, as long as there are Americans to remember...
My name is Henry Arthur Myers, Jr. My friends call me “Junior.”
I was the only child of Arthur and Sweet Myers of Waxahachie. We lived at 322 Virginia Ave. There were lots of good friends and neighbors there on Virginia.
While growing up, I enjoyed scouting and became an Eagle Scout at an early age. “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country,” that was my promise.
One summer, I volunteered to work as an instructor at a camp for underprivileged boys.
I graduated from Waxahachie High, where I was the drum major for the high school band. The study of music was one of my favorite things.
After high school, I attended Baylor University where I made many new friends. I was known as a snappy dresser, and some of the girls said that I was the best jitterbug dancer on campus.
In the summer of ’41, I volunteered for the Army Air Force along with 21 other Baylor students.
We started our training up at Hicks Field; it was northwest of Fort Worth.
After three months, they sent us to Goodfellow Field; it was southeast of San Angelo.
We were practicing in the BT-13 trainer plane in San Angelo when we heard the news about Pearl Harbor. Then things started heating up and our training got really serious.
We finished our advanced training with another three months work at Kelly Field in San Antonio.
When we received our wings, we had the distinction of being the first group to complete the Air Force accelerated training program. Instead of the normal 12 months, it took us just nine months to get our wings.
I was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in February of ’42.
After that, I was sent to Key Field in Meridian, Miss., where I trained in the Curtiss P-40 fighter plane.
That “Warhawk” was a serious fighting airplane in my estimation.
From there, I was sent to New York where I volunteered for a special assignment in Europe.
I received orders to fly to England on April 1, 1942.
I was being sent there on a classified mission for the United States Army. Upon arrival, I was attached to the American Embassy in London, and stayed at the West End Club in London, which was used to accommodate American Army officers.
America was still gearing up for the war, and Britain was just barely hanging on.
I took satisfaction in knowing that we were doing something important, but at times I found my thoughts back on Virginia Avenue, the neighbors, the homefolks, and all my friends there.
During this time, I traveled throughout the British Isles along with a Royal Air Force officer.
Our mission was priority and top secret.
On July 26, 1942 we were on a flight returning from Wales when our plane went down at Biggins Hill, England.
It was a Sunday and I was 22 years old.
We were airmen once, and young… Remember us.
Perry Giles serves as co-chair of the Ellis County Veterans Appreciation Day Committee. The 2013 countywide tribute to veterans is scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Waxahachie Civic Center followed by a wreath presentation at the Ellis County Veterans Memorial located in front of the center.