World War II

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

As thunderstorms threatened, President Donald Trump sped through a V-J Day speech on Wednesday, trumpeting American strength and managing to squeeze in a swipe at Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Battleship North Carolina, Navy, Wilmington, USS
U.S. Navy, 1946

Wilmington, North Carolina is about to become the first World War II Heritage City in the United States.  President Donald Trump is expected to make the formal announcement during a visit to the Port City on Wednesday.

About 300,000 veterans lived to see this year’s 75th anniversary of V-E Day, marking the end of World War II, according to Pew Research.

Alex Brandon / AP

President Donald Trump will visit Wilmington on Wednesday to declare it a World War II “Heritage City.”

News outlets report that the visit is timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the end of the war.

Two women smiling together. Mother on the left, daughter on the right.
Kathleen Burkinshaw

Seventy-five years ago this week, the United States bombed two Japanese cities with nuclear weapons. The United States detonated the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and the second over Nagasaki three days later, killing tens of thousands of Japanese civilians. This event is more than just a page in a history textbook for Japanese American author Kathleen Burkinshaw.

The stones, engraved with swastikas, mark the graves of German POWs who died in the United States during World War II.

Leoneda Inge

A World War II veteran living in Wake County received his Congressional Gold Medal over the weekend. He was a part of a unique all-Hispanic regiment.

98-year-old Normandy survivor Ray Lambert (left) accepts a plaque at a June 2018 ceremony. Fort Bragg paratroopers splashed down in his Moore County neighborhood as part of a salute to his service.
Ted Fitzgerald / The Pilot (Southern Pines, N.C.)

As he takes part in the 75th anniversary commemoration of the Normandy invasion, Ray Lambert of Moore County, N.C. worries that his generation's values have eroded.

a photo of Iris Yang
Iris Yang

Iris Yang grew up in China with two parents who were high-achieving educators. They wanted her to be a good student and successful woman, and their passion was biology. She aimed to please them and followed their suggested path.

 

Yang was one of a few students accepted to the China-United States Biochemistry Examination and Application program, and at 23, she was sent to America with a borrowed $500 and poor English. She went on to study molecular biology and worked with researchers at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She made her parents proud, but she could not let go of a deep-seated desire to pursue one of her first loves: literature.

headshot of author and former radio DJ Jo Maeder
courtesy of Jo Maeder

When writer Jo Maeder’s parents split up, she vividly remembers her dad announcing: I’m retiring and moving to Miami. Who is coming with me? She was eager to pick up her life and start anew and spent her late high school and early college years under her father’s supervision. But despite the time they spent together, Maeder feels like she did not really get to know her father until after he passed away.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'The War Is Over'

Aug 12, 2018
A portrait of Bill Reid, age 17.
Holly Reid

Bill Reid is 92 now, but back in 1944 he was just 18 when he was drafted to fight in World War II. He traveled by train from New Jersey to Fort Bragg for 17 weeks of training before heading off to Europe. 

On his first day at Bragg, Reid recalled he was not impressed with his initial assignment.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: Remembering D-Day

Jun 3, 2018
Portrait of Kenneth "Rock" Merritt taken during World War II
Kenneth "Rock" Merritt

At 94, retired Command Sergeant Major Kenneth “Rock” Merritt is something of a living legend in the Fort Bragg community.

During World War II, Merritt was a young paratrooper with the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was one of thousands of soldiers who jumped into Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

“The war into Normandy, I guess simply put, it was hell. That’s really what it was,” Merritt said.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'They Don't Tell You Much'

May 20, 2018

Debbie Crain and Laura Lauffer both grew up near Fort Bragg, both with fathers in the military. Crain's father fought in World War II, Lauffer's served in Vietnam. Like many who have seen combat, neither man talked much about their experiences. As adults, both women found themselves looking for answers about their fathers' military service.

A model of a bronze monument that would commemorate a top-secret World War II program that brought hundreds of Russian aviators to Elizabeth City to train alongside Americans.
Jay Price / WUNC

A man who wants his Virginia museum to be the home of a monument honoring a secret World War II spy mission has traveled to Russia, where he plans to march in a parade while advancing his case.

A model of a bronze monument that would commemorate a top-secret World War II program that brought hundreds of Russian aviators to Elizabeth City to train alongside Americans.
Jay Price / WUNC

People in Elizabeth City are taking sides in a fight over a proposed monument, and the outcome could have international implications.

World War II, African American military, African American women, 6888 Postal Battalion
Madeline Gray / For WUNC

Millie Dunn Veasey, a Raleigh native believed to be one of the last living African-American women to serve overseas during World War II, has died. She was 100.

World War II, African American military, African American women, 6888 Postal Battalion
Madeline Gray / For WUNC

The birthday celebrations continue for Millie Dunn Veasey of Raleigh, North Carolina. On January 31, the World War II veteran turned 100 years old.

Billy (left) and his brother Dewey, playing soldiers as children at Fort Bragg during World War II.
Courtesy Billy Herring

Billy Herring was seven years old when his family moved on to Fort Bragg in 1939, one of only three civilian families on post at the time. His father ran the dairy farm, supplying milk to the soldiers.

EPICENTER PRESS / 2017

When they got married, Weaverville residents Dennis and Christine McClure never dreamed they would write a book together. That was before they learned the harrowing tale of the construction of the Alaska Highway during World War II. The U.S. government feared an invasion from the north by the Japanese and needed a way to get troops and supplies to Alaska in eight months. Commanding Army officers were reluctant to hire black regiments for the project, but they needed the manpower.

Four World War II veterans were honored with Legion of Honor awards at a Raleigh ceremony.  From left: Morton Jacobs of New Bern, John P. Irby, III of Raleigh, Robert C. Senter of Fuquay-Varina, and Salvatore Maiello of Fayetteville.
Jay Price / WUNC

The number of North Carolina veterans who fought in World War II is declining. But last week, four of them got an official thanks from a country they helped liberate.

The cast of South Pacific
VanderVeen Photographers

In 1949 composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein premiered their hit musical “South Pacific.” It tells the story of how an American nurse and lieutenant find new love across cultural and racial lines. 

Courtesy of Chris Holaday

Eastern North Carolina’s Tobacco State League only lasted for five seasons. From 1946 to 1950 teams including the Sanford Spinners and the Lumberton Auctioneers battled for baseball greatness and ticket sales. They entertained crowds eager for a return to normalcy after World War II. Many of the players had recently returned from war, others were college baseball stars, and still others were just hoping to make a better hourly wage than they could earn in the local mills.

Jeff Roffman

In June 1944, a group of Jewish prisoners performed Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem Mass” to a group of Nazi officers at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. The performance was a subversive and artistic act of defiance by the Jewish prisoners. In 2008, Maestro Murry Sidlin founded The Defiant Requiem Foundation to commemorate the event. Sidlin conducts Verdi’s “Requiem Mass” alongside testimonies and footage from the concentration camps.

Image of atomic wasteland in Nagasaki
Hayashi Shigeo, Courtesy of Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

In 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs in Japan, killing more than 200,000 individuals within a year.

Courtesy of Anna Shternshis

More than two million Soviet Jews were killed during the Holocaust, yet their lives and experiences are not well documented in Holocaust history. 


Portrait of Marshall Rauch from 1962.
Courtesy Marshall Rauch

Marshall Rauch made a name for himself as the first Jewish senator in North Carolina. Before that he played basketball for Duke, fought in World War II, helped integrate Gastonia, and was the largest producer of Christmas ornaments in the world.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Rauch about his legacy and how his faith played a key role in everything he did including the Christmas business.

One of the last living World War II glider pilots lives in a modest home in Tampa, Florida, where he's developed a special bond with his neighbors.

John McCord, UNC Coastal Studies Institute - Battle of the Atlantic expedition.

Maritime archeologists are hoping to shed light on a little-known World War II battlefield off the North Carolina Coast.

In July of 1942, a German U-boat sank the freighter SS Bluefields in the waters near Cape Hatteras. The US Navy returned fire and sank the German sub with 45 crewmen on board.

Photo of P.T. Deutermann
Cynthia Brann

For more than 20 years, P.T. Deutermann has channeled his experiences in the military into fiction writing. He has written 19 novels that have been inspired by his time as a Navy captain and an arms-control specialist in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

'Darker The Night'

Mar 22, 2016
Lisa London

Like many Americans, author Lisa London grew up with a limited knowledge of what happened in Nazi Germany during World War II. 

But when she began talking with her neighbor, Hilda Sensale, she was surprised to discover stories about the time period from the perspective of a German youth. Lisa used the experiences of Hilda as the basis for her coming-of-age book.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Hilde Sensale and Lisa London about Darker The Night (Deep River Press/2016).

 

Four Men Who Shaped The CIA

Dec 18, 2015

There were many firsts for the United States during World War II, but the formation of the first international foreign intelligence collection service is one that still affects the country today.

The precursor to the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), ran covert operations in Europe and used espionage and saboteur tactics to advance the Allies’ mission.

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