By Darrell Todd Maurina: CNJ Staff Writer
Army Air Corps Staff Sgt. Jack Love and Seaman 1st Class Dan Love died on the opposite sides of the world during World War II, but their deaths enabled their widowed mother to petition for the discharge of a third brother, Clyde Love, who returned home to Clovis after the family lost their farm near Grier.
Their niece, Nancy Young Wright, drove from Tucson, Ariz., with her mother, Iris Young, to participate in today’s Memorial Day ceremony in Clovis.
Wright said she’s become a student of World War II history and has located people who witnessed Dan Love’s burial at sea in the Pacific Ocean and Jack Love’s plane crash over Germany.
Among the family’s prized possessions is a handwritten letter from Jimmy Stewart, the movie actor who joined the Army Air Corps and was commanding Jack Love’s squadron when he died in the tail gun turret of a B-24 bomber as the plane crashed.
“Stewart sent a letter that was as positive as it could be, though it said he thought Jack might have become a prisoner of war. That turned out not to be true, but of course Jimmy Stewart didn’t know that,” Wright said. “My (other) uncle’s burial at sea had sketches done by an artist on board. He captured dogfights, battle scenes, and all kinds of things. They didn’t have a choice but to bury him at sea, so there is no marker for Dan anywhere in the world.”
Dan Love could have gotten out of the military after an accident with a bomb door cost him three fingers.
“He could have gotten out but he didn’t want to leave his crew,” Wright said. “His mother signed for him to join the Navy at age 16, and later regretted it.”
Wright’s mother Iris Young now lives in McAlister and said she appreciates her brothers’ patriotism and willingness to enlist even though they could have applied for a hardship exemption because their mother was a widow.
“They were drafting a lot of boys on the farm, but they wouldn’t have had to go because their mother was a widow and she needed the boys for farm work, but they did anyway,” Young said. “My mother had to sell the farm and move to Clovis but I don’t think she wanted to because she had good land.”
Young said her younger brother loved military training and the opportunity to see Washington, Oregon, California, and the Pacific Ocean. At times, she said, his letters home sounded as if they were written by a boy away at summer camp.
“Dan was so cute, he had dimples and was a little cute kid with brown eyes,” she said. “I’m sure glad they’re finally recognizing World War II. It’s something you never forget.
“A drive from Tucson is nothing compared to what they went through,” Wright said. “What really makes me annoyed is people have gone out and sacrificed for our freedom and then people don’t even want to vote. It kind of makes me angry.”