WWII veteran honored as Veteran of the Year

By: 
JACKIE KOCH

Ross Vincent was drafted during WWII at age 18. Photo submitted.

A World War II veteran and resident of Tecumseh Place was honored Sunday by Miracle Meadows Ranch of Adrian as Veteran of the Year, for his military involvement during the war and his 25 years of service in the Army Air Corps and the Air Force Reserve.

Ross Vincent, a 94-year-old native of Hillsdale, was a senior in high school in 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked and the Second World War began. His wife of 32 years, Barbara, said after that event he knew what he would be doing after graduation.

“At one point his grandfather offered to have him work on the farm so he could be deferred as a farm employee, but all of his friends were already in the service so he thought he might as well go,” she said.

Ross was drafted when he turned 18, began his basic training at a base near Kalamazoo, had an opportunity to take a test for the Army Air Corps and was selected to go to Toledo, Ohio for intensive schooling in math and other basics. He and the other recruits slept on cots in an auditorium and used flashlights after lights-out to study under the covers so they could pass their classes and avoid being sent to serve in the infantry.

After he graduated from air school he was sent to various bases for more flight education, eventually joining a crew that would be sent to the South Pacific to fly bombers and to replace a crew that had been shot down. Ross flew several missions as the navigator and was required to determine air speed and wind direction, and had to know the plane’s location at all times. He was also trained to use the guns, drop bombs, and administer first aid in case any of the crew were hit by bullets from enemy fighters.  

According to his wife, at one time the crew’s plane was shot down and the crew was picked up by the Navy and returned to their base. Ross kept the handle of the ripcord for the parachute that saved his life.

After the war when he was discharged from the Army Air Corps, he signed up with the Air Force Reserve and was a liaison for the Air Force Academy in Colorado, where he went to high schools and talked with young people interested in the academy. “I think he enjoyed working with the young people and trying to get them into the Air Force Academy,” Barbara said. “I think that was an important job for him and he was really proud of the fact that he did that.” Altogether he spent 25 years in the service of his country and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

His wife said his early experience in the service and during the war had a profound effect on him. “I think it was very good for him, the fact that he had to follow through on the tasks, and learn to take responsibility as an 18-year-old,” Barbara said. “I know that at times, some things that he saw when he was overseas would come back and he would actually be in tears because of the things that he had to do, and I always tried to remind him that you really had no choice if it was your life or someone else’s.”

After his time in the service Ross began a career in finance and eventually went into banking, starting as a loan officer at Onsted State Bank and continuing there for more than 20 years. “He retired as a senior vice president,” said Barbara. “Even if he turned somebody down, he did it so gently and was careful to explain to them what they needed to do in order to qualify, and he’d say, ‘Come back and see me when you’ve got these things taken care of and we’ll see what we can do.’ I just loved the way that he was so kind with people.”

The program Sunday at Tecumseh Place was led by Annie Schiller of Miracle Meadows Ranch, a local nonprofit that uses animal assisted therapies and activities to bring physical, emotional, and spiritual healing through biblical based principles. The event included recognition from Linda Farley, spiritual care coordinator for Hospice of Lenawee, and a certificate presented by State Representative Bronna Kahle.

“I am very proud of him, and he is the love of my life,” said Barbara of her husband. Also in attendance were several of his six children, grandchildren, and other family members.
 

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Tecumseh Herald

 

110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286
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