Friday, August 28, 2015

What Are The Odds?

Mr. Jimmie Wheeler

I am at a loss for words.  Yes I know that is hard to believe, but it's true.  Do you believe there are things in life that happen and even you can't explain them?  I believe that things happen for a reason, we may not know the reasons but they are there.  I personally believe that God puts us where we are to be and in His own time.


I guess I need to give you a little history.  A year ago someone named Susie, contacted me on Facebook.  She said she had been searching for Carl Johnson and was he my dad?  I said yes and then she proceeded to tell me that her 90 something father in law had been searching for my dad for years.  She said he had even made a trip back to South Carolina and couldn't find him.  She told me that he had served with my dad in WWII in the same unit and they had even survived a shipwreck together among other things!  She had seen my website page on Military.com

Daddy didn't tell us much and I have found that is the way with most WWII Heroes.  They are a proud but humble bunch who always will tell you that they just did what they had to do.  They indeed did do and in fact went above and beyond the call of duty.  I hate that we are losing them almost daily, because they are as they say "The Greatest Generation"!  The pride, respect and honor they have for our country is a very rare thing to find in present day.  There are still a lot of us left though because if I have it others do too!

You can imagine my excitement and surprise to hear from them and about them.  I had to set this in motion and I just had to find a way to get to Texas to meet this man!  We talked off and on for the entire year on the phone and I grew to love this family as my own.  They are all very special people indeed.


  Mr. Carl Johnson
My daddy

Daddy had told we kids of a ship sinking actually there were two he told us about.  This particular one I will never forget because the effect that it had on him shown in his face.  He told of the cold water and how so many didn't make it off of that ship alive.  He told how long they were in the water and how many they saw that had drowned. That ship was the LST 422


Along with an unidentified LST being unloaded in Anzio Harbour, Photo by Denis Healy from "Anzio The Friction of War:  Italy and The Battle For Rome 1944," by Lloyd Clark source Robert Hurst. link above goes to some of the history of this Landing Ship.  Links UK here and here Royal Navy

454 Americans and 29 British Sailors were lost January 26, 1944, during the landings at Anzio, Italy.  All were members of the 83rd Battalion Motorized which was later renamed 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion.

The 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion was attached to many other units in WWII in the Mediterranean Theater.  Some of that time was spent with Darby's Rangers.  A few links here, some here 6615th Ranger Force and Darby's Rangers here and  here

I have some of my new Hero Mr. Wheeler on tape and will go through his account of this shipwreck and sinking to post at a later date.  All I wanted to do was just sit on the stool in front of this man and look at him.  I so admire him.  

This touched me to no endHe said that he and daddy had one leaky life vest between the two of them.  They took turns wearing it and blowing it up the entire time, which was a very long time. until they were rescued.  Then they were taken to the hospital.  In a few days daddy was off to Anzio and Mr. Wheeler a short time later for some fierce fighting.

Jimmie Wheeler and Carl Johnson (Daddy)

This picture can be found in the book Bastard Battalion by Terry Lowry, which may still be found by contacting 35th Star Publishing. I get the feeling that these two shared a few good times as well as many hard times together.  They are listed as unidentified but we know who they are! 

Mr. Wheeler told me of the wooden puppet he had hanging on his side view mirror.  You can see it if you look hard.  I think he said he made that.  When they would go through towns and children would be out in the streets he would pull on that puppet and the children would love it so!

 The story behind this picture is just so good!  These two were in France and had come to an area that the Germans had already gone through and ransacked.  They found these hats, canes etc and tried them on clowning around.  It wasn't too long before their commander arrived had a few choice words and then said to them, "Don't you two think you'd better get back to WORK"!  "PUT those HATS Back Where You Found Them and GET TO WORK!"  Mr. Wheeler told me they went around to the back of that truck and acted like they were putting them up but then ran back to the truck and threw them in.  That commander was none other than George S. Patton


Jimmie Wheeler in his top hat taken on Christmas 2010
Can you tell he is a pistol, so much fun and the new 90 something.  Sharp as a tack and full of life.  He and his wife Neta!  He is still so handsome and she is a beauty and gets around better than I!
They welcomed us into their home I should say they all welcomed us into their homes.  The entire family was so very nice.  We felt from the first moment that we had found a new family.  This is our family now.  We truly love them.  I guess they are lucky they live all the way in Texas because I'd be aggravating them daily!   

Mr. Wheeler has led a very interesting life, yes he has.  He worked for Howard Hughes over 20 years in the oil business.  He told many interesting stories about that.  He and his wife Neta have traveled the world and done extraordinary things.  

Guess I found my words!  I'm so happy to have met this man who shared so much with my daddy and now has shared it with me.  I do feel now that he and his family are now mine.

I have so much more to share one of their sons, Jimmie Ray (my new brother from another mother/father as I called him) and his great wife Susie (my new cousin/friend/sister) that made all of this possible.  I owe her such gratitude!  They have cows, horses, sheep, dogs, chickens, rabbits I may have left something out.
The other brother, Randall who is a salesman, writes Cowboy Poetry and does missionary work all over the world.
There are two sisters that I did not meet.
I must share Texas, the trips we took, the food we ate!  Can you say Texas BBQ?  The wide open spaces!  So much more I'll be sharing.

Until then,




What are the Odds? The story of meeting my dad's WWII Army Buddy
Touring Texas:  Frontier Texas with Mr. Wheeler in his Howard Hughes Cadillac!
Touring Texas:  Meeting the Wheelers
Touring Texas:  Let's Go to Buffalo Gap
Touring Texas: Jimmie Ray's Appaloosas
Touring Texas:  Randall The Cowboy Poet
Touring Texas:  On The Road In Texas 
Touring Texas: Fort Griffin Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp Big Nosed Kate and More
Touring Texas:  BBQ Texas Style

24 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness I LOVE this story! I'm so glad he finally found you and thanks for the old photos and research! Amazing history. :)

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    1. Hello Natalia,
      I was so glad to meet someone I never knew existed! You just made me smile! Thank you so very much!

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  2. What a priceless story, Dolly! So glad I got to read it here :)

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    1. Hi Jacqueline,
      It's so good to hear from you. Thank you so much!

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  3. WoW! This was an amazing post! Thank you for sharing! I think this is my favorite post by you now!!!!!!

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    1. Thank you so much Ginger Dawn! I'm so glad you were here!

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  4. Oh Dolly, I think this is my favorite post you ever wrote. You almost bring me to tears with it. What extraordinary men they are and you need to share this story with all who will listen. I am anxiously awaiting further posts on this subject.

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    1. Kim sweet friend you really know how to make my day! I wish you could've met my dad and Mr. Wheeler they would truly love you and you them! Thank you for such a wonderful compliment. You do my heart good girl! :)

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  5. This is a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing. My Dad served under General Patton and would have been carrying on just like your Dad and Mr Wheeler!!! My Dad shared some stories, but not a lot. I tried to get him to write stuff down before he died, but he didn't finish. Wish I would have taped him while he was talking.
    I'm looking forward to more stories!

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    1. Hi Moira,
      Thank you so much! My dad died in 1990 and he never told us, well the girls much at all. My interest in his WWII experiences began after he died. I went from knowing nothing to finding out where he served and with whom. Over a period of years information has just come to me like this man his friend I never knew until now! You might could find out more than you think especially is you have his unit...email me if you want some help I might be able to. I owe God for my information all along the way. It has been something interesting and unbelievable the way each new piece has come about.
      It was so good to hear from you.

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  6. What a swee, sweet story with a wonderful finding of a new family. That's so special. I loved reading about it. Following you back.

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    1. Hi Cecilia,
      Thank you so much! I'm so glad to have found you all of you! I look forward to seeing and hearing from you more! Thanks again!

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  7. Wow, that's such a great story. I love hearing things like that. My dad took my grandpa to a reunion of glider pilots once and a man came up behind my grandpa who was in a wheelchair at the time and called him by the name he went by back in the service (a nickname). My grandpa immediately recognized the voice without even turning around to see who it was and they hadn't seen each other in 50 or more years. Hearing that just gave me goose bumps!

    Tania

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    1. Hi Tania,
      Thank you! I just enjoyed your story that was so sweet. I can imagine that happening. So wonderful I'm glad you shared this with us. Amazing.

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  8. What a lovely story Dolly! Thanks so much for sharing it with us!!

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    1. Oh thank you Candy! You know everywhere we went in Texas I was reminded of your Farm Sign etc. I thought of you daily so if you felt like someone was talking or thinking about you I was!

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  9. This is just amazing! What would have been the odds of them finding you if it had not been for Facebook. I'm glad you got to hear the stories!

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    1. Hey Kathy! I've been so excited to meet this man for over a year. Yes, I had for years a website about the unit. I guess that while doing the unit search she came across Dad's War on Military.com and at least got my name..then on to Facebook! I am indeed thankful for that!
      Thanks!

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  10. My great grandmothers older brother was also a member of them... we still have his vmail and have wanted more information of his time served. Unfortunately he was one of those lost during the LST 422. I just wish we knew someone who knew him so he could be more than letters a pen and a watch and a purple heart. All these are meaningful but there is something about the personal stories that make him more real. Shucks. Our great grandmother didn't even know how he died in till shortly before her death because they were keeping the information secret. The only thing she knew was that he went missing in Italy in January. In the 60s they finally declared him deceased. And the late 90s we figured by his missing date that it was Anzio. Lots of searching had to be done to get what information we could get. Please feel free to email me @ phattwinmama2013@gmail.com my great uncle John Stefanko's memory would appreciate it.

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  11. My great uncle is John Stefanko Tech 4 83rd Chemical Battalion Company D. He did not survive anzio. Please feel free to email me. I would love to know as much as we can about him and the men he served with.

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    1. Hi Samantha,
      I will go through my information and get back with you. I am so sorry you all never got to know him. I also guess you know that most of the men are deceased. I'll get back to you soon.
      Dolly

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