Sunday, May 29, 2011
On Hatteberg's People, there are about 1.8 million World War II veterans still alive, but their numbers are dwindling at an awful pace. There will come a time, soon, when the stories they tell, the memories they have, and the war they experienced...will be gone. Retired Pastor Oliver Lideblad was in Italy as Chief Aircraft Inspector and Flight Engineer. Now living quietly in Wichita with his daughter living next door..his memory of the war is vivid.
"And we all had rifles. We each had a rifle at our tent. Adolf Hitler had to be dealt with."
(President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) "History has recorded who fired the first shot. In the long run however, the only thing that will matter is who fired the last shot."
"I tell you what, every morning I knew what my job was to do."
We listen to those like Pastor Oliver Lideblad who served in World War II. Who lived and loved, and to this day tell their stories with pride of someone who knew what he had to do...and like all who served wondered the same thing.
"That was the thought that went through my mind.... It might be a one way trip. Probably most of us thought that way."
Now in a tree lined historic Wichita neighborhood, at 93 his sight is nearly gone, but not his spirit.
"I have no aches and no pains...anyplace."
He walks daily, even mows his yard, and in that neighborhood...
Oliver never met a stranger.
"You've been my neighbor 'Valy' across the alley."
(Janet Janzen -Daughter) "Here's something, it says 'fire in our tent area'."
The memories are still deep and strong, as the old scrapbook chronicles his military life.
"And that was an auxiliary fuel tank falling down into our area."
In the war years he and his buddies helped keep the aviators going...day after day.
"The enemy was over there ready to shoot them down as fast as they came up."
Returning home in 1945, he became a Lutheran Minister for 60 years, spending much of his tenure in Hutchinson where he retired in 1983 and later moved to Wichita.
"There are only three of us left in this class who are still living."
But his military memories never far behind, and not long ago went on an 'Honor Fight' to visit the Memorials in Washington, D.C., It was there where people grabbed his hand and thanked him for his service.
"It brought tears to my eyes. I'm thankful that they were so thankful for me being in the service."
At 91, Oliver taught himself to play the piano....his life has always been hitting the right note, whether it be in war or peace.