Vere, 12/7/11 interview

Monday, May 16, 2011

Four Stars in the Gardner Window

Four Gardner brothers, Don, Jack, Vere, and Allen were raised during the depression and bravely served the United Stated of America during WW II. Jack entered the US Army in 1939 out of high school. Vere joined the US Navy in 1940 out of high school. Don joined the US Martime Service. (Merchant Marines), in 1942 as a returned missionary (and discharged as a Coast Guard member). Allen joined the US Marines in 1944 out of high school. The home of our parents Rea and Pansy Gardner was graced with a banner with four white stars during the war, and four blue stars at the end of the war.White, blue and gold stars represented each soldier's patriotic service to our country. 

Previously untold inspirational war stories of how and where each brother risked his life in the Pacific and Atlantic theaters are documented by family letters and oral stories. Vere on Dec. 7, 1941, the first day of the war, shot down a Japanese plane at Pearl Harbor with a rifle. Jack flew P-38s to Alaska. and later flew 13 secret missions, destinations unknown.(groups of officers were likely flown to Japan Invasion war planning meetings). Flying bombers to the Pacific was Jack's major assignment, at times returned with wounded soldiers. Don's voyages to the Atlantic exposed his ship to German U-boats. At one point, likely on Guam or Okinawa, Allen was a telephone lineman for the Navajo Code Talkers, and shared a tent with one of these brave forward spotters.

Each brother was supported by the Gardner family in letters and other ways. Don married Carol (1942), Jack married Christine (1943) and Vere married Artie (1945) during the war added moral support. Allen met Don, Carol, Jack and Christine at Long Beach.Vere and Artie  honeymooned in Long Beach to be near Don and Jack after years at sea. Allen met Jack on Guam and flew with him on an  instrument check before facing fire at Okinawa. All four brothers shared war stories and strengthened moral values that lasted each a life time.

 Rea and Pansy Gardner were high school grads. Rea was born in Dec, 1891, and Pansy in May 1894. Rea and Sy attended the same high school academy. Poor  financing killed their dreams of graduating from college. Sy and Rea were sports enthusiasts, checkers champs, historians, religious philosophers and missionaries. Rea's skills and aptitudes were emulated by his children, Rea followed many of Sy's interests adding geography, the medieval era, the Silk Road, Charlemagne, European Enlightenment, and economics.

Rea and Pansy moved from Utah to Orange County in 1920 with Don and Hal. Trees were pulled,  as  grandfather Archibald and great grandfather Robert pulled trees, moving to eastern Ontario, Canada in 1820. Rea and older sister Zella were partners. Funds were provided by Sy. Rea replaced Cora, a younger sister, who returned to Utah to teach high school music. Rea, a carpenter, built his own large home, as Sy had built his firs home (the first lumber home in Spanish Fork). Six children, Jack, Vere, Allen, Colin, Faith and Dixie were born in Orange County. Don completed high school in 1935 the year the depression forced the sale of the family business and home. Don excelled in tennis, serving and returning with either hand. Pansy was a musician (piano). Pansy motivated Don (clarinet), Jack (clarinet, trombone, trumpet), Allen (clarinet), Colin (clarinet, sax), Faith (piano, song), Dixie (drums, song), and Zoe (piano, song).

With $10,000, Rea and Pansy, and eight children, moved to Gridley and bought a large house on 10 acres with peach trees. The peach trees were pulled and a dairy was started. Zoe and Milo were born.  Don continued playing tennis, finishing second in a state tournament as northern California champion and went on a mission to Missouri in Jan. 1940. Jack excelled in football, basketball and baseball. The 1938 Gridley football and basketball teams won leagues championships. Vere excelled at track setting a national class B 1,320 yard record of 3:23. Allen was paid profits from five of Rea's  50 cows to run the dairy, and not play high school sports. After Colin attended Oroville high school in 1945-1946 to play in a big band the seven day a week dairy business became under manned. Rea built hay augers, blowers, and steel bottom wagons to reduce from the field to the barn costs by 50%. The cows were sold by 1948. A post-war chopped hay business was started with the return of Vere and Allen, in partnership with Hal and Rea.

1. German military Enigma messages were decoded by Polish code breakers before 1938  predicted a German invasion. The code and the decoded troop movements were passed to ally England before the Munich conference. The code nor the information were Prime Minister Chamberlain. At the Munich Conference England ceded the Sudenland to Germany assuring that the European war would begin. In 1939 German invaded Poland Winston Churchill replaced Chamberlain.