JONNIE - END OF STORY

JACK HEYN IN THE SOUTH WEST PACIFIC DURING WW2
(MEMBER OF THE 3RD BOMB GROUP)

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visits since 1 January 2001

On a Monday morning about the third week in April, 1945 once again I boarded a train headed cross country. Spent a lot of time ridin' the rails these past four years. This time I was headed for Page Field, Ft. Meyers, Fla. A far piece from those Bases along the Canadian border that I had requested. As it turned out Uncle Sam must have known something I didn't. It took a week to get there and it was a rather uneventful trip. The only thing I remember about it was a horendously long bridge we traversed getting into New Orleans. Longest railroad trestle I had ever seen.

On a bright, sunny Sun. afternoon towards the end of April we rolled into Ft. Meyers, Fla. They called themselves the City of Royal Palms. I would soon learn that the G.I.'s called it the City of Open Palms. After detraining I caught a cab to the bus station where I was told I would catch a bus to Page Field. Got to the station, was informed that a bus would be leaving in a little while, so sat down on a bench to wait. While sitting there this perky little brunette walks in and sits down across the room. She had on a pink candy-stripe cotton dress, and she was something else. Looked so fresh and clean, just like the girl next door was supposed to look like. I thought to myself, there is a girl I would like to know. She got in line to get on the Page Field bus, but was too far ahead of me, and the bus too crowded for me to get any where near her.

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A group of five returnees from the Pacific Theater,
13 years accumlated overseas time between
them. That's Jack's good friend Carol Hebble
from Baltimore in the top row with Jack.

 

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Some Photo Section guys enjoy a cold one at the P.X.
after work -- make that several cold ones.

Got out to the field and found my way to the orderly room of Sq. T. Found out that Page Field was a P-51 (Mustang) training base. Also found out that it was manned by U.S.O. Commandos. These guys had been here up to 2 years, none of them ever having been overseas. They were just starting to get a few returnees. I was assigned to the Photo Section, and the next morning I found that and made myself known. The chief function of this Photo Section was processing gun-camera film from the P-51's that these pilots shot in their training dog-fights. They also had complete darkroom facilties for conventional photography. I had never worked with film processors, so it was all new to me, but it really didn't matter. Besides myself there was one other returnee, Carol Hebble, from Baltimore. He was a 6'4" pussy cat. He had been in the China, Burma, India theater, stationed at Karachi, India for 2-1/2 years. He and I became good friends, and we soon found that we had pretty easy duty. Nobody much bothered us and we pretty much came and went as we pleased. But we also got a rather rude awakening.

The army had started a point-system whereby you became eligible for discharge. It was based on service time and overseas time. Hebble and I both had twice as many points as required -- just one catch. Our MOS Nos. were frozen. They weren't letting any Photo-lab-technicians out. Don't why there always seemed to be a shortage of us guys. But it was easy duty and we got a lot of personal stuff done. I had brought my 600 plus photographs with me, which I had been sending home to the folks for 3 years. It was during my 4 months at Page Field that I compiled them into an album: My LIfe In The Service - World War II - 1941 - 1945. We did some P.R. photos on occasion. The instructors were all combat veterans, and they had a decoration formation one day where a bunch of them received belated medals for "Above and Beyond".

Germany had folded up in May and there was all kinds of talk about the invasion of the home islands of Japan. Having been in that side of the war and knowing the fanatical nature of the Japs - "die for the Emporer" - we figured that would be one bloody, costly operation. Those people would not surrender, they did not believe in living to fight another day. Hebble and I took solace in figureing we had been there, done that, and had no desire to go back. Along about July the 1/Sgt called the two of us up to the orderly room. There was an opening for two instructors at the Photo School at Lowery Field in Denver. It would mean a M/Sgt. rating for Hebble and a T/Sgt rating for myself, would we be interested. Hebble looked at me, I looked at him, we looked at the 1/Sgt. and said "hell no, we want out". After four years I was finally offered a chance to get to the school I had enlisted to attend, and I turned it down.

About two weeks after arriving I was in town one nite, had gone to a movie. Got back to the bus station and got in line for the last bus to the base. About 5 guys in front of me was that Perky Little Brunette again. When we got on that bus I about bowled those five guys over to be able to sit beside her. She was not too anxious to strike up a conversation with a strange G.I. But I got out of her that she was a C.A.A. radio operator at the field, and was headed out to pull the graveyard shift. The radio shack was across the field and runways from where the bus stoped and I talked her into letting me walk her over. Her name was Evelyn Johnson, but was called Jonnie, from the Johnson bit. She was from Kansas and after graduating from high school in '43 had gone to Denver and worked at Continental Air installing radios in B-17's. She and two sisters she buddied around with decided they would rather operate radios than install them. Had gone to radio school in Omaha and been hired by the Civil Aeronautics Adm. She had gone to Atlanta for advanced training and been assigned to Page Field. Got there just in time to ride out the hurricane that hit shortly before I arrived on the scene.

Finally talked her into a date for a movie, and that started a relationship that has lasted 55 years. Since I was able to get passes just about anytime I wanted, we spent an awful lot of time together that summer enjoying balmy Fla. We went swimming, dancing, movies and I spent an awful lot of graveyard shifts in that radio shack. There was a weather girl on duty at the same time, but she was usually in the other end of the bldg with the Officer of the Day. Jonnie had a couple of other G.I. boyfriends she had met in Denver, that were pushing her for a commitment. But she just wasn't ready, I guess.

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Enjoying some free time during their
courtin' days in balmy Florida.

 

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Enjoying some free time during their
courtin' days in balmy Florida.

In July she had a weekend off and I got a week end pass and we went to Miami. Called a hotel on the Beach from the staion to see if we could get rooms. They assured me we could get a room. Took a cab to the hotel and went to the desk to check in. Told the guy we needed two single rooms. Didn't seem to have two singles, had lots of doubles. Told him we couldn't use a double, had to have two singles. Finally in frustration he wanted to know why we couldn't use a double - I told him "Damn it we are not married". He looked kind of sheepish, and came up with a couple of rooms for us. Had a ball that weekend, swam in the hotel pool, wanted no part of the Ocean. Wined and dined at the Fiesta night club. Sunday nite caught the bus back across the Tamiami Trail thru the Everglades to Ft. Meyers. It was about this time that I decided I wanted Jonnie to be My Jonnie, and asked her to marry me. She accepted.

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Miss America?? -- Nope, Jack's own personal pin-up girl.

 

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Jonnie

Aug. 6, 1945 Col. Tebbets flying the Enola Gay dropped an Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. An Atomic What?? We had never heard of such a thing. Aug 9, 1945. they dropped another one on Nagasaki, Japan. That did it, they sued for peace. Just about 2 weeks short of 6 years the greatest armed conflict in the history of mankind came to an end. It was a global war, and it devestated cities around the globe. It killed millions of people both military and civilian. Not the least of which were 6 million Jews killed by Hitler, just because they were Jews.

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VJ-Day parade in downtown Fort Meyers, Fla.

 

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VJ-Day parade in downtown Fort Meyers, Fla.

 

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Jonnie on the job on the radio
at the C.A.A. radio shack.

 

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Jonnie on the job on the teletype
machine at the C.A.A. radio shack.

About the middle of Aug. I had my orders, first stop Camp McClelland, Ala. From there I was shipped to Camp McCoy, Wisc. Jonnie had requested a transfer to the Jacksonville CAA operation and got it. We rode the same train as far as Jacksonville, where I kissed her goodbye for the time being. I was planning on attending the School of Modern Phtography in N.Y.City with Hebble, and we would get married when I got out. They dropped the bomb Aug. 6, I was handed an Honorable Discharge at Camp McCoy Sept. 5. The army can move in a hurry if it wants to. As it turned out we couldn't get in school until Jan 1, so I went back to Fla. and we got married Dec. 10, 1945. And so ends a four year hitch in the United States Air Force that covered a hell of a lot of territory and hell of a lot of history.

jh100.jpg (58530 bytes) And so, after a whirlwind 7 month courtship, on Dec. 10, 1945 in Jacksonville, Fla. Jonnie and Jack were married.

Did they live happily ever after????

How about 55 years, and counting. Oh, we've had ups and downs; have hit some bumps and a few potholes. But unlike too many of the yourger generation, we rode out the rough spots. With each bump the bond grew stronger. With each pothole the love grew deeper. At 22 a person doesn't know much about the true meaning of the word "love". At 77 a person has learned a bit about that true meaning.

Will the marriage endure???

I do believe it will.

Jack Heyn

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Jack Heyn in the South West Pacific during WW2 - The Full story

 

Jack Heyn and Peter Dunn 2001
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This page first produced 1 January 2001

This page last updated 02 April 2002