On that Sunday morning in December, he was returning from Mass with his family in a Nicetown/Philadelphia ethnic neighborhood. As the family walked home, a neighbor burst out of his house to flag them down. The neighbor knew that the Slabiks did not have a radio, but he extended the invitation for them to step inside his house to listen to an ongoing news broadcast. The news was numbing and unimaginable, but after all parts of Europe were already at war. What…this happened at Pearl Harbor? His brother Stanley was in the Army and had been just a year ago stationed in Honolulu. The Japanese…why was the world crashing down?
When he returned to high school the next day, all his buddies were ranting against the attack. Graduation could not come too soon, for they wanted to enlist right away and save America…save the world. They often bragged about seeing each other in Tokyo a year from now. The minimum age to enlist was 18 years old, and Edward would not reach that age until next November. Patriotism called…how could he wait?
After a June, 1942, graduation, he began to figure out how he could enlist. He would “create” a new birthdate. After all, a birth certificate was not entirely necessary; one could have a witness testify about that birthdate. He would only be fudging a few months since Uncle Sam and the United States needed him. Instead of stating that he was born on 6 November 1924, he and his witness declared the date as 1 September 1924. (On another document, he stated that it was 6 September 1924.) He enlisted in the United States Army Air Force. He would be trained to fight in combat.
While in basic training at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, he and the rest of his new buddies were given nicknames that would remain with them for the duration of the war. Edward enjoyed humor and laughter and playing pranks, so he was nicknamed “Silly From Philly”. Perhaps, that humor saved his sanity when he was fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Theater.
Edward would return from war in December, 1945, to that ethnic neighborhood in Philadelphia. He came home to his parents and neighbors. He was 21 years old. His mother was alarmed at how jaundiced and skinny her boy Edjui (Polish for Edward) looked. He was home safe…America was also safe.
It would be four years later in December, 1949, when I would first meet my father. He and my mother had married in 1947 after becoming war time sweethearts…but that is another story!