Red Lion Man Modest World War II Hero
I am still going through some of the Red Lion Echoes passed on to me by a friend. The World War II newsletter was for and about Red Lion area service men and women.
Some of my favorite historical sources are letters, diaries and newspapers, all created at the time. The following letter was shared with the community in the December 1945 issue of Red Lion Echoes. I’m sure similar letters were written many times over. You get the feeling that the officer whose life was saved by the Red Lion seaman thought that sailor might be too modest to relate the story when he returned home.
The article reads:
The story of how Seaman 1/c Hoyer R. Shindler rescued two officers following an airplane crash, while his arm was broken, is related in a letter received here from one of those rescued.
Lt. P. Dee, USNR, wrote to Mrs. Margaret Shindler, telling her how her husband saved his life and also that of a companion. Shindler is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Stewart Shindler, North Main Street.
The letter from Lt. Dee follows:
As this is my last day here on Guam, I have been thinking you would bear with me for a moment while I relate one event, which took place in the month of September. I am sorry that I am not allowed to tell the exact time or place, but I am sure your husband will be able to tell you all the facts concerned when he gets home.
It was early in the evening as our plane was well on its way to Guam, that something happened to the controls and we were forced to crash into the water below. The next thing I can remember, I was being pulled bodily through one of the escape hatches on the top side of the plane. After I had been put aboard a rubber raft I saw the same man that save me reach over and with Herculean strength pull the unconscious body of Lt. Cole aboard. After that task was over, he pulled away from the sinking plane and not until then did he speak, and when he did, he merely said ‘Are you okay sir?’ A few hours later we were rescued by a patrol craft to which we had flashed out position before we crashed. As we were being put aboard, I heard the sailor remark, ‘please take it easy, I think my arm is broken.’
You see, Mrs. Shindler, the sailor was your husband. I have spoken to him often since that day. His arm is getting along fine and his spirit is typically American. I really don’t know how you go about thanking a man for saving your life, so I though perhaps I would write to you and ask you to thank him for me when he gets home. Both Lt. Cole and I have recommended him for a decoration and I trust that he will receive it. I am now on my way home for a discharge and, God willing, hope to meet your husband again. I am sure you are proud of Hoyer, as I know you have every reason to be. He speaks very much about you and your son. You must indeed by a happy couple. Please allow me to thank him again through this means and thanks ever so much.”
It is stories like this that we need to record while fast-dwindling World War II veterans are still with us. Toward that end, the York County Heritage Trust is a partner in the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress, created in 2000 to collect memories of veterans of wars in which the United States has been involved from World War I up to the present. The aged veterans of the earlier wars especially need to be recorded while they are still with us.
York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives has been working in conjunction with the oral history department at York College of Pennsylvania to try to get as many interviews and transcriptions completed as possible, but more assistance is welcomed. If you are a veteran and are willing to set down for an hour or so and talk about your experiences, or if you would like to volunteer to be an interviewer, please contact YCHT Assistant Librarian/Archivist Victoria Lander at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-848-1587, x 225.
Click below for links to previous Red Lion Echoes posts.
Tojo suicide attempt.
Two colonels from Yoe.