Mr. Edward Stever is preparing to celebrate a century of life and continues to volunteer at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, according to a news release from Fort Bragg.
“He has volunteered at the ASOM since 2011 and has logged in over 2,400 hours,” said Jim Bartlinski, ASOM director. “Ed is here every Sunday and still drives.”
Mr. Edward Stever is a World War II veteran, who served in the Army Air Corps for three years in China, Burma, and India Theater of Operations as a radio operator aboard a C-47.
He married Ms. Shirley Stever, and together they built a family. His hometown is Buffalo, New York, which is the same location where he was drafted in 1943.
Stever has a lifetime of experience to share about volunteerism, service to nation, and heroism.
Below is an excerpt about Mr. Stever’s experience while serving, provided by the Airborne and Special Operations Museum:
“After Pearl Harbor happened, I couldn’t wait to get into the service and do something for my country against the Japanese. I wanted to go into the Air Corp because, at that time, all of my buddies started enlisting in the Air Corp. I had four of my best buddies that I went to grade school with all go into the Air Corp., so I wanted to go into the Air Corp. for that reason.
“I had always worn glasses, and back in those days if you wore glasses your chances of getting in to the Air Corp. were pretty slim. As the war went on, it wasn’t long before I went in anyways through a draft. I was 22, which was old back then because a lot of the boys were very young. People would be 16 or 17 years old and would have to lie about their age to get in, and a lot of them made it. I was drafted in 1943. I had basic training on the Board Walk in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“Back then, everybody that was enlisted personal did KP duty, guard duty, picked up cigarette butts, and that was all considered part of our basic training. After basic, I got assigned to be a future radio operator. I had to go to a few schools like Midland Radio School in Kansas and a camp in Missouri for a Signal School to learn code. Then I went to an advanced school in Reno, Nevada.
“At the schools, they taught us how to operate the radios and the mechanics of the radio. We learned long range radio and short distance radio from planes to a tower. We learned everything pertaining to the radio equipment and the aircraft. I basically had to keep in contact with all the destinations and bases that we would fly to and keep the plane on a flight plan.
“If we had severe weather, or we were shot at, I had to call in a S.O.S. to notify that we were having a problem. I flew in a few different kinds of aircraft, but oversees I was in a transport squadron that flew C-46s, C-47s, and converter B-24s. It was only a short time after that I went overseas.
“I was sent to a small air base in what they called the Assam Valley. It was on the East side of the Himalayan Mountains. I was there about 7days and had orders to go to a place called Luliang, China. It was in the middle of nowhere.
“Our jobs were to Fly over the Himalayan Mountains to transport bombs and airplane fuel into China. We would go from India into China.The supplies were all in India and could only get into China by air. They were building a highway in India, down through Burma and up into China, but it never was finished because the war ended before it could get finished.
“If you liked to fly, everything was interesting. It was dangerous during takeoffs and landings because you were loaded with 500-pound bombs in the cargo and sometimes 50 drums of gasoline. A lot of times, if you had an accident, the plane would torch really quickly and blow up. I’ve seen that happen a lot of times.
“We worked 24 hours around the clock, 7 days a week. Sometimes I would take off from the base and wouldn’t get back for 14 hours because of a mission. If we flew to a certain destination to deliver or pick up something, we might be gone 12 hours on what we thought would be a 4 hour flight. The bombs and fuel we transported were for the fighter planes that were fighting the Japs over China.”
Stever turns 100 years old on March 22.
Photo of Edward Stever courtesy of Fort Bragg.