We pay tribute to veterans among us who served in World War II

IN THE END, THEIR STORIES FLOAT UPWARD LIKE FRAGILE ASH FROM AN OLD FIRE, JOINING our collective history to leave only their faces and their eternal resolve. Here we share those faces with you — an assembly of American men and women who served the nation in World War II, Southwest Floridians now living quietly among us in old age. […]

America’s first automobile, built in 1896, is coming back to the future

Before the Focus, the Explorer, the Mustang, the Model T or Model A, there was the quadricycle, Henry Ford’s first crack at the automobile. When it rolled out onto the dirt streets of Detroit, the two-cylinder, gas-powered invention intrigued people but was also noisy, dripped oil and belched smoke. This summer, staff at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates tracked […]

Rubio for president?

Sen. Marco Rubio may not be running first in the Republican polls this week — he’s third, in fact — but I now have a hard time believing he won’t be the candidate who takes on the Democrats a year from now. It’s a stellar rise since his days in the 1990s on the West Miami city council, or his […]

Obamacare is still failing

For the press, the debate about Obamacare is over. There may be a few proverbial Japanese soldiers wandering on isolated islands yammering on about the failure of Obamacare, but word will eventually filter down to them, too. This assumption is so deeply embedded that it is impervious to new evidence that Obamacare is an unwieldy contraption that is sputtering badly. […]

It’s always the same war

“To understand the nature of the present war — for in spite of the regrouping which occurs every few years, it is always the same war — one must realize in the first place that it is impossible for it to be decisive.” —“1984” by George Orwell Barack Obama originally ran for president as the anti-war candidate. Now, as his […]

A Hero Named Chicken

“The boys said ‘we knew you’d come after us.’” — Grace Chicken, former Army Air Force nurse

Grace Chicken is now 101 but the former Army Air Force nurse clearly remembers flying the second batch of American POWs out of Japan shortly after World War II ended. The men on her flight were survivors of the Battle of Corregidor and the Bataan Death March, brutal 1942 events in which thousands died. Yet, she said, they never gave […]

Blind Date to Enduring Love

“Hey, Joe, look at me. Pretend it’s our first date.” — Ann Sheppard, wife of WWII veteran

Joseph Shearer, 92, wasn’t up to leaving his bed and going to a game room the day Florida Weekly stopped by Brookdale Punta Gorda Isles to snap photos of World War II vets. Mr. Shearer had just received radiation treatment for cancer and was propped up in his bed. His wife of 67 years, Ann, sat in a chair on […]

‘A Wonderful Life’

“I was never rich ... I was never poor. But I had a wonderful life.” — Larry Gaudreau, WWII veteran

At 92, Larry Gaudreau doesn’t recall his rank in the U.S. Navy when World War II ended 70 years ago. He does, however, remember convoy duty on an anti-submarine ship during the war and then returning home to Maine and carving out a post-war life. Mr. Gaudreau recalls opening a grocery store and later owning restaurants and serving the Maine […]

From B-17 bombardier to blogger

“We were all kids, most of us draftees who very suddenly, and in far too many instances, violently had our lives uprooted.” — Bill Kilpatrick, sergeant and bombardier

Bill Kilpatrick was a 19-year-old sergeant and bombardier in the 350th Bomb Squadron on Nov. 30, 1944, when his B-17 flew from England to Germany. It was part of an incomprehensibly vast armada of 1,281 bombers and 972 fighters sent to attack Nazi oil refineries near Merseberg, Germany. That was the day Sgt. Kilpatrick was wounded. From an official report: […]

From Fort Myers to World War II and back

“I’m the only survivor.” — Walter Sheppard, Army Air Corps

Walter Sheppard, Frank Pavese and Jim Franklin were all born in the 1920s. They grew up in Fort Myers, attended Fort Myers High School, the University of Florida and returned to their hometown to become prominent attorneys. Each is now in his 90s. In between high school and passing the bar, they fought in the biggest, deadliest war in world […]