Monday, June 2, 2014

DD Anniversary-Recognize the few remaining WWII Veretans

A Letter from My Dad to Honor My World War II Veteran Grandfather:

Dear Mr. Brokaw:

My wife and I were long time viewers of yours, when you were the anchor on NBC Nightly News.  You had an easy style and great credibility.  One of the things I appreciated most was your love and appreciation for those who served in World War II,  You called them the "greatest generation" and I couldn't agree more.

Because of your appreciation for those who served in WW II, I felt there is someone you should know about.  My Dad is a WW II veteran who in the Army-Air Force.  His name is Francis M. Gau.  His friends call him "Frank", his siblings affectionately called him "Buster" and the grandkids call him "Buddies".  He will be 92 this month and has outlived all his brothers and sisters.  

Dad served from September 12, 1942 to September 21, 1944.  he flew 50 missions as a tail gunner in a B-24.  They flew out of North Africa and later Italy.  He has mentioned that a main target was the Polesti Oil Fields.  He shared that they had a 175% plane loss and his crew was one of only four in their squadron that survived all 50 missions.  Dad made copies of his Honorable Discharge for my two sisters, two brothers and me.  I am the oldest - a 66 year old Baby Boomer.  His discharge papers list the following  battles and campaigns:  EAME Air Offensive of Europe; Normandy, Southern France; Rome-Arno; Rhineland per WD. GO 33 1 May 1945; Italian Campaign per Ltr. Hq Notusa (sp?) 200.6 29 May 45.  In the remarks at the bottom of the discharge document, it notes that he was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross per Ltr 829 Bomb Sq 200.6 13 Oct 44 and Unit Citation GO 4928 Hq 15th AF APO 520.  In trying to read and copy information from his Honorable Discharge, there appear to be some spelling errors and some of the text is difficult to read.  He never received any of these citations.  My brothers, sisters and me have pursued for some time the recognition that we believe he so richly deserves and is so long overdue.   We sent a letter to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis in June 2005.  In September 2005, our Dad received a response stating that they did not have his records; and, if they had, they were most likely destroyed in the July 12, 1973 fire.  

Like so many WW II veterans, Dad was more interested in returning home and leading a normal life, than seeking recognition or medals.  He never spoke much about the war when I was younger but only more so in the last 10 - 15 years.  Dad is someone who always puts others first.  He and our Mother have set outstanding examples for their children to follow.  They have been married for 67 years (February 15, 1947).  Our Dad has never sought recognition for anything he has ever done.  He and our Mother sacrificed and put all five of us kids through Catholic grammar and high schools.  He was a construction engineer for the California Division of Highways, later known as Caltrans.  He was the resident engineer on the closing gap of Interstate 5 which links the United States to Mexico and Canada.  He retired shortly after completing that job and did construction consulting for several years.  Dad never really retired.  He always had a project going around the house or was helping family and friends or us kids with our projects.  He was a gifted handyman who could fix almost anything.  Today he has little hearing left and suffers from dimentia.

Knowing the bond you feel toward the World War II veterans, I felt that Frank "Buster" Gau is someone you would like to know about.  He was not only a hero in the War but also in the way he has lived his life and the example he has set for others.

Thank you for your time.


The Gau Family.

Thomas M. Gau
2336 Eilers Lane 
Lodi, CA 95242

We Have More Documents including discharge papers, a recent letter from President Obama requesting the Air Force Veteran Affairs Follow Up regarding my grandfather's case, and some other documents stating we can't move much further because most of his "paperwork" was lost in a St. Louis fire.  Please, help us. We don't have much time left. ~Stephanie Puryear (Francis M. Gau's Granddaughter)

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