Somewhere in Germany, a World War II veteran may be telling stories about the time he came back from a mission with a gaping hole in his pants. He has Monroe resident Jack Young to thank for that.
Young, 99, was one of five World War II veterans honored Saturday at the Senior Center in the Living Heroes Tribute, organized by the Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation. The other honorees were Arthur Ludlejian of Monroe, and Franklin “Bud” Beattie, John Barbuscak and Leroy Glover, all of Shelton. The men received citations from the U.S. Senate and state General Assembly, in addition to other gifts from the Fallen Heroes Foundation.
Young was on patrol in 1944 when his unit spotted a lone German fleeing the approaching Americans.
“We thought, ‘This could be a good chance to get a prisoner,’” Young said.
The German ran into a house, with the Americans in pursuit. But when they entered the house, their foe was nowhere to be found. Climbing to the upper floor, the German soldier dashed past Young, who tried to tackle him but could not hold on.
“But I tore the patch of his pants,” Young said, holding up his souvenir.
Young’s war would end in November 1944, when an 88-millimeter artillery shell exploded near him, sending him home to an 18-month hospital stay. His war service justified his unit’s nickname — the group was comprised of men from Texas and Oklahoma but told others that the “TO” designation actually stood for “tough hombres.”
The other veterans also shared stories of their service, including Beatty, who was struck in the head by a bullet on Iwo Jima, and Barbuscak, who was drafted in July 1945 and eventually was assigned to the Berlin motor pool, ferrying the Allied high command to various locations.
After the war, the men continued to be leaders, with Glover being instrumental in the growth of Shelton Savings & Loan and the Naugatuck Boys & Girls Club. Glover also designed, built and flew his own helicopter. Young would recover from his injuries and walk again, then met and married his longtime pen pal.
“We will never forget our heroes, which is why we’re here today,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, whose two sons are currently serving in the military.
Blumenthal praised the veterans for not only defending freedom but then coming home and, among other things, putting a man on the moon and building the interstate highway system.
“These were historic steps for our nation,” Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal also shared a service inside joke with Glover, a fellow U.S. Marine veteran, who had earlier been identified as having served in the U.S. Navy.
“The Navy likes to think Marines are part of the Navy,” he said. “The Navy provides the boats that get Marines to where they need to go fight.”