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Heroes & a heroine

Ennis-area WWII vets leave for Washington, D.C. next week
The Ennis Daily News is proud to feature every Monday a selection of profiles of the 32 local servicemen –– and one woman –– who are joining Honor Flight of Ellis County’s visit to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. on May 7-8.
These articles will appear each Monday in the EDN through May 5.
Today, meet Roberto Campos, Maggie Thomas, Norman Cates and James Barnes.

James Lee Barnes
Branch of service: Army
Rank: Tech 5
Where served: Stateside
When served: 1945-1946
Memories: Served in the 4th Army and 8th service command. Was responsible for proper distribution of records for returning servicemen from European and Pacific theaters of operations. Was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. Best friends with another Honor Flight veteran, Norman B. Cates.

Norman B. Cates
Branch of service: Navy
Rank: S1
Where served: Stateside, at sea and Okinawa
When served: 1944-1946
Memories: Duty stations were NTC at San Diego, LCS PAC, USS Clinton APA-144, USS Texas BB-35 and camp Wallace, Tx. Ran LCSP Higgins landing craft at Okinawa. Battle station was down in ammunitions room. Awards won include American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal w/Star, World War II Victory Medal, Chinese Theater War Memorial Medal. Best friends with fellow Honor Flight veteran, James Lee Barnes.

Roberto Ignacio Campos
Branch of service: Navy
Rank: Seaman Ist Class, machine gunner
Where served: Aboard USS Kilty
When served: 1942-1945
Memories: Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, like thousands of other young men, enlisted in the United States Navy. Had to lie about age and was in boot camp at 15. Primary assignment was on the USS Kilty, an APD Destroyer where served as a machine gunner on a Higgins boat, designed to quickly put Marines on the beach. Was involved in over 30 landings in the Pacific and earned several medals and awards. At the end of WWII, received an honorable discharge as seaman first class.
After a transition period adapting to civilian life, went to work for the Harlingen Fire Department, where served for over 30 years rising to Assistant Fire Chief. Member of the American Legion, the VFW and association of Four Stack Destroyer veterans as well as a charter member of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. Married 54 years to Gaudencia Campos and have four children, including longtime WFAA-TV news anchor Gloria Campos. Gloria learned about Honor Flight at recent fundraiser for Anna Thomas, daughter of Ennis Mayor Russell Thomas and First Lady Nancy Thomas. Gloria is close friend of Nancy’s and is Anna’s godmother.

Margaret (“Maggie”) Allan Thomas
Branch of service: Army Nurse Corps
Rank: 2nd Lt.
Where served: Ft. Bragg, N.C. Camp Shanks, N.Y.
When served: 1942-1945
Memories: In 1939 while student at School of Nursing at Duke University in Durham, N.C., a general hospital unit was organized in case of war. Many of our class joined unit. Meantime, I graduated, worked at Duke for short time, then was offered job at Warm Springs Foundation for patients with poliomyelitis and worked there until war was declared and unit was called to report to duty at Ft. Bragg.
While there met a nice young man from Texas A&M and was married in my hometown church in Ellerton, Ga., July 15, 1943. When returned from honeymoon, found my foot locker being packed for overseas duty. Our unit had been mobilized, and we were to report to Camp Shanks, N.Y. When arrived there, found our ship had been used to send more troops for invasion of N. Africa.
We were to await another ship. During this time, husband was at Camp McCall, N.C. but managed to fly up each weekend to Camp Shanks. When ship was ready, all married nurses were given pregnancy tests and mine was positive. Thus was sent to Ft. Dix to await my honorable discharge. When husband was sent overseas with the 17th Airborne, I went back to work at Warm Springs polio treatment facility. There President (Franklin Delano) Roosevelt would come for treatment. Over the years, was fortunate to get to know him and help him. He always spent Thanksgiving holiday with us. He used to joke and call (the facility) the ‘little White House.’
Roosevelt was very ill and needed many surgeries but did not get them because he was too busy being Pres. He felt like he had a job to do and that came before his health. He was a good man, very wonderful person. Last saw Pres. when he came to chapel with us on evening before he died. I sat across the aisle from him. He looked very grey and not at all well.

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Posted by on Apr 28 2008. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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