Growing up, no one talked about daddy or the war
My dad, Roy E. McDowell was born October 19, 1914 in Buffalo, Kentucky, a farming community.
His parents, John and Mamie Miller McDowell, had 9 children. Daddy had 3 older siblings, Ruth, Ethel, and Walter, followed by 5 younger brothers and sisters, Mary Ruby, Russell, Elsie, Jane, and Charles. They were a typical hard working farming family. He went to school at Walters School, a rural, one-room schoolhouse. He went to church at South Fork Baptist Church, where there is a memorial window with his name in the old church building. Dad and Mom (Dorothy DeSpain McDowell) married May 29, 1932.
They had 2 sons and a daughter. Their first son, Ray (Edward Ray), was born August 28, 1933. I (Ruby Irene McDowell Heady) was born in April 4, 1937. Their 3rd son, Jimmie (James Murrell), was born July 28, 1943. We lived in the country and lived the normal farm l ife. Soon after Jimmie was born, we moved from the farm to town.
Dad got a job with E.S. Ferriell Wholesale Company in Buffalo, Kentucky. In March of 1944, dad was drafted. He entered the Army at Ft. Thomas, Ky., for his basic training. After basics, he came home on leave and then was sent overseas.
My aunt, Elsie, said she remembers the day that she, grandpa, and grandma took daddy to Elizabethtown, Ky. to catch the train back to Fort Thomas before he was sent overseas. Little did anyone know they would never see him again.Growing up, no one talked about daddy or the war. It would have helped if they had.
I know very few details of him, his unit, or where they were in Europe. There were papers and letters from him and Mom kept them stored in a trunk. Unfortunately the trunk and all of that information was destroyed in a fire.
The only thing I know specifically about his death is a bridge was bombed when he was on his way to the front line. I have been able to get a book about the Super 6th that has helped me know more about where daddy went after leaving the states.
Mom was left with 3 small children to raise and a heart broken Mom had the task of keeping us together and making a living. We did stay together and we did survive all the storms. But in doing so we have had to grow up without our dad and that has not been easy.
He never got to see us all marry the loves of our life and to see all the wonderful grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and now 2 great-great-grandchildren.At the time of this writing, October, 2009, dad has been dead 65 years and the hurt is still as strong today as it was years ago.
My daughter, granddaughter and I are planning to visit my dad's grave for Memorial Day 2010. We hope to be able to visit some of the places that we think daddy would have been before he was killed near Nancy, France.
Thank you Daddy for the few memories I have. I love you and I miss you every day.
Ruby McDowell Heady
American WWII Orphans Network