Vern Ray was just 22 years old and eager to see the world when he was assigned to the 451st Bomb Group stationed in Castellucio, Italy. The aim of the Italian campaign was to draw Nazi forces away from advancing Allied troops making their way across Europe. It was intense. Vern was also part of the 35th Fighter Group effort to dissuade Japan’s activities in the Pacific. He was awarded the Purple Heart for taking a shot in his shoulder during a Japanese attack on the airbase. Vern’s work with airplanes means he can identify not just every model of WWII aircraft, but also their engine type and country of origin. Since the end of the war, Vern has been a sheet metal worker in Savannah, MO, enjoyed 40 plus years of marriage, had two daughters and six delightful grandchildren.