Photo by Bob Fraser
Son of Bertha Paine Fraser (teacher/trustee). A Marine Corps ace who fought at Guandacanal. He did not survive war crashing when flying as a test pilot.
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Story by Robert Redden (added by Wayne Mahood), '39
Bob, a 1939 three-year graduate, enlisted in the infantry in 1942, served in the South Pacific, rose to the rank of captain of a field artillery battery, was honorably discharged in 1946 and received his B.S. from Geneseo that year. Bob later served as Geneseo's dean of instruction from 1962 until the early 1970s.
A photo of him appears in the 1939 and 1946 yearbooks and in the college history.
Story by Glenn T. Lloyd, '52
I served in the US Naval Reserve in WWII from 1946-48 and in the Korean (it wasn't called a war) from 1950-52 as an Aviation Electrician's Mate 2/C at final discharge. I was turned down when I applied for gunnery school following the AEM school because the rate was considered too crucial to risk AEMs as rear gunners. Nothing notable during my time in the service.
Photo by Robert T. McDonald ’50 Sergeant, 14th Army Air Corps Flying Tigers 1943-1946, '50
Robert T. McDonald ’50
Sergeant, 14th Army Air Corps Flying Tigers 1943-1946
"I trained as a tail gunner on a B24 heavy bomber. Our regular routine
was to bomb at 30,000 feet. We had to wear oxygen masks and cold-
weather gear at those altitudes.
In 1944, we got word to train for a special mission and new type of
flying in the jungle. The Japanese invaded northern China and we were
going to bomb intelligence and smaller targets, from as close as 500
feet. The idea was right but the plane wasn’t maneuverable enough.
In August 1945, we were sent to Okinawa to help with the impending
invasion of Tokyo, but the war ended so we didn’t have to do it.
Before America dropped the atom bombs, my squadron dropped leaflets,
telling the Japanese that we had some new apparatus that we were
going to use and we advised them to surrender.
Just after the bombings, I flew an observation mission over Nagasaki.
It was just wiped off the earth. It was the eeriest thing I’ve ever
After the war, Army Air Force personnel took over Japanese airports.
I was in charge of a motor pool in Tokyo. The Japanese realized they
had lost the war and part of their job was to cooperate, and they did.
One Japanese soldier who cleaned our barracks had been a lieutenant
pilot; every pilot carried a Japanese flag with them. When I got my
orders to ship out, he asked if I’d be interested in taking his flag
as a gift because he appreciated the way my friends and I took care
He gave me a feeling that he felt it was too bad the war ever
happened. I thought it was a natural thing to accept it. I have kept
I had two brothers. We were all Army Air Force sergeants. I trained
with my older brother, William, in Colorado. He was a junior at SUNY
Geneseo when he enlisted.
He was shot down in Austria about two weeks before the war ended. He
was a nosegunner; that’s where his ship was hit. He, the co-pilot and
the navigator went down. The others bailed out and lived.
That was pretty hard for me. I was home on furlough when we got the
telegram that he was missing in action. The American Red Cross didn’t
want families to lose more than one member, so maybe I would not have
had to go to China on those missions. But I went. I didn’t want to
let my crew down.
My parents still had great hopes that my brother would be found, but
it never happened. For five years, we had to sweat it out before they
finally found his remains in Austria. We were given his dog tags. He
Residents in the small town of Annaberg had buried William and his
crew in a common grave outside of a church. They took care of him.
His remains are now buried in Arlington National Cemetery. One of my
desires is to go to Annaberg before I get too much older.
This is the most I’ve ever talked about my experiences in World War
II. It’s hard to explain experiences to someone who wasn’t there.
And, the real heroes are the ones who didn’t come back.
The reason I am sharing now is that two years ago, I went on an Honor
Flight to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., with
other veterans. Some guys needed escorts. Many of those escorts were
young, and lots of young students greeted us at the airport gates. I
had never seen so many young people involved in a veteran activity.
That got me thinking.
I already told some of the veterans who have talked in schools that I
will go with them next year. I think the young people deserve to know
what we went through."
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Photo by John “Jack” Samter, '49
John “Jack”Samter ‘49/’58 MS
U.S. Navy, aviation midshipman, 1943-1947
Jack enlisted upon graduation from Brooklyn Technical High School in
New York City. Selected to be a pilot, he spent three and a half
years training and studying astronomy, navigation and communication
in colleges and Naval Air Stations in California, Florida and Texas.
"I signed up as a mechanic or a rear-seat gunner but during 16 weeks
of boot camp and tests, I qualified for flight training. As the rest
of the group shipped out, I was assigned to report to college. The
war was toning down, but the military wanted to prepare for the future.
My military experience was really a wonderful learning time for an 18-
year-old, with a great group of men.
My class was the last class to solo in bi-wing Stearman planes. The
first time I went up they took me through the paces of recognizing
the horizon and the instruments on board and then gave me an
introduction to the topsy-turvy world of space. I was strapped in the
open cockpit and the instructor performed loops and spins. He was a
very skillful pilot.
Well, I hosed the plane down after landing. After that, I never lost
sight of the horizon or the dashboard and my dials. My mind was so
busy I never had an upset stomach again.
It trained me to be cool under pressure in a strange situation. It
becomes instinctive after a while. In Florida, we flew SNJ combat
The war ended after President Truman’s decision to use the A-bomb.
The flight school program slowed to a standstill. Many of us wanted a
discharge and to return to college using the GI Bill. I was
discharged as an aviation midshipman in September 1947.
I had bought this old coupe for a couple of hundred dollars with my
discharge pay and drove back to New York City to visit an aunt.
There, I went to a church dance and met my wife, Germaine. I was so
in love with her from the minute I saw her. We made a date to meet on
her birthday, Dec. 4, in New York, at Macy’s.
An automobile accident with Navy friends in Connecticut forced me to
miss our date. I spent a year in the hospital. That’s when my life
changed; my life changed for the good.
Germaine came to see me in the hospital and forgave me for not
showing up at Macy’s. She truly was my inspiration all through life.
She’s the one who said, “Why don’t you consider teaching?”
That’s why I went to Geneseo. My parents bought a house at 16 Main
St. so we could all be together as we attended Geneseo — myself and
two sisters, Joan Samter Young ’50 and Judy Samter Harkins ’54. I
received a lot of encouragement from professors and friends while
attending college, on crutches.
I taught for 33 years. The last 21 years were in the Clarence Central
School District. I enjoyed the work with fellow teachers and
students. I think I am a lifetime learner.
I am glad to have served in World War II. War is not a glorious thing
in any way, but it was a last resort. We were fighting for humanity.
We fought for democratic life — for freedom not to hurt the other
person, but to live compatibly."
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Photo by Robert Yull, '49
Robert Yull turned 18 before his high school graduation and reported for
duty one week after his commencement in East Aurora, N.Y. He spent
nearly three years with the Seabees, the naval engineering corps.
"When I was enlisting, I said I had worked on a farm and I’d worked on
tractors since I was 8 years old. They asked if I could, therefore,
run a bulldozer. I said, ‘Why not?’
So, they told me they were going to put me in the Seabees and away I
went. I helped build airfields, docks, just about anything. If it
needed building, we would build it.
After boot camp, in 1943, just before Christmas, I reported to the
Liberty Ship. I ended up on that thing for about six months; it felt
like a long time.
It was the worst Christmas I ever spent in my life. They had that
song, “I’ll be home for Christmas, just you wait and see.” I tell
you, I didn’t get home for that Christmas or the Christmas after or
the Christmas after.
It was nerve-wracking; we had a couple of machine guns on the ship
and that was about it. There were Japanese all over the place. I felt
like a sitting duck.
We arrived in Pearl Harbor after it was bombed in 1941, but it was
still in shambles. It was a wreck.
You know the ships that were sunk in Pearl Harbor? We got them
working again. I was support crew. There were 16 ships that were sunk
or badly damaged. I helped get 13 of them back into battle. I’m kind
of proud of it. My final station was in Hilo, Hawaii, at a big air base.
Fifty years after I left Hawaii, I went back to Hilo and Pearl Harbor
with my wife, Doris Burrows Yull ’62/MS ’71.
I tried to find the places where I worked in Pearl Harbor, but never
did find them. It had changed so much in 50 years. The World War II
Memorial at the Arizona choked me up. I felt a part of it.
For years, America had the Korean and Vietnam memorials in the
capital. People would ask me why we didn’t have one for World War II
I didn’t want one. All I wanted to do is finish that thing up and
start my life — just let me go.
But now, 63 years later, when I heard about Honor Flight, I couldn’t
wait to go. In 2009, I went with other veterans on Honor Flight to
visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. My son went with
me. The memorial is for all of the people who were killed. I hope
that we can avoid things like that in the future.
I’m proud of my service. I wouldn’t change a thing. I was not bitter
— not a bit. Everybody went. It wasn’t just me.
I attended Geneseo on the GI Bill. I was the first one ever in my
family to go to college. Without World War II and the bill, I’d never
have been able to go to college."
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Photo by Ralph Harris, '47
Ralph Harris ’47, 1943-1946, U.S. Army 78th Infantry Division
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Photo by Harrison M. "Flops" Phillips, '42
Harrison M. "Flops" Phillips ’42, receives a medal during his military service in Korea. Phillips first served his country in World War II from 1942 to 1946 in the U.S. Army Infantry 1st
He was a U.S. Army Intelligence career officer for 22 years.
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Photo by Donald Lee, '49
Staff Sergeant Donald Lee '49, front row, center, with his crew of the 13th U.S. Air Force. He served as a radio operator and gunner on a B25 and was stationed in the South Pacific and Japan.
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Story by SUNY Geneseo alumni veterans of WWII
Geneseo honors World War II veterans
Thank you to all of our courageous alumni who served our country. Here are the veterans who responded to our request for information and who we know served.
• Joseph Anzalone ’48, 1943-1946, U.S. Army Transportation Corps
• Anthony Barraco ’49, 1943-1946, U.S. Army; 1946-1949, Reserves
• Fred A. Barraco ’52, 1944-1946, U.S. Navy
• Charles Battaglia ’49, 1944-1946, 114th Battalion, Navy Seabees
• Richard Batzing ’52, 1946-1948, U.S. Army
• Blaise P. Buffamante ’49, 1944-1946, U.S. Naval Reserve
• Arthur Carbonaro ’52, 1942-1946, U.S. Coast Guard
• Thomas Conners ’51, 1945-1946, U.S. Army, intelligence and reconnaissance
• H. Hunter Fraser ’50, 1943-1946, U.S. Army Air Force
• Robert D. Hall ’50, 1942-1945, Gen. Patton’s Third Army
• Ralph Harris ’47, 1943-1946, U.S. Army 78th Infantry Division
• Donald Lee ’49, 1942-1946, 13th Army Air Force in the Pacific
• Robert T. McDonald ’50, 1943-1946, 14th Army Air Corps Flying Tigers
• William McDonald ’43, U.S. Army Air Corps, killed in action in Austria, 1945
• Donald Carew Mills ’50/MS ’59, 1944-1946, U.S. Army
• Harrison M. Phillips ’42, 1942-1946, U.S. Army Infantry 1st Division; U.S. Army Intelligence career officer, 22 years
• John Roach ’52, 1942-1946, U.S. Marine
• John “Jack” Samter ’49/MS’58, 1943-1947, U.S. Navy, aviation midshipman
• Ralph Wermuth ’52, 1946-1948, U.S. Army Air Force
• Gerald Yaxley ’49, 1943-1946, U.S. Army Infantry. Purple Heart recipient.
• Robert Yull ’49, 1943-1946, U.S. Navy Seabee