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Albert (Zollie) Balogh
Branch: Air Force
Rank: Staff Sergeant (E-5)
War or Conflict: World War II
Years of Service: 2
My father was probably like many men in his generation. His parents came here from Hungary and he grew up and graduated from highschool in Detroit. His older brother went into the Army, my father served in the Army Air Corp. Like most WW2 vets he rarely spoke of the action that they saw. Instead he talkled about all of the places he was sent to in this country from Chicago to LA, to the Rio Grande Valley, his trips to Africa and Europe and sometimes about being shot at in the air. He was a turret gunner.
On a trip to Europe with my husband we stopped at Brenner Pass to stretch our legs. Like most 'boomers', I don't know my WW2 history all that well. My father got out of the car and looked up at the Alps.
"This is Brenner Pass?" he asked.
"Yes,it is, why do you ask?" I replied.
"The plane behind us got shot down." he said.
My stomach lurched. The "me" generation as we are called, my first thought that was by a fraction of a second, I almost missed being born. He then told me that the Germans had set up machine guns in craggy mountainside where the rocks and shadows hid them and they just shot down many of the planes as they flew through.
Later I wondered how many friends he had on the plane that didn't make it through the pass. To my knowledge it was the only time he had seen Brenner Pass from ground level and yet he recognized it instantly.
But what made this trip perhaps even more unsual was that the main purpose of the trip was a wedding. Our German friends oldest son was getting married. During the reception (this is around 1994) my father looked at me and said:
"If you would have told me 50 years ago that I'd be sitting in Germany attending a wedding,I would have called you a Damn Liar!" But he had a great time. And our German friends treated my parents like family.
He was close to other WW2 vets until he passed away last year at the age of 88. Not a complainer, always generous, and usually a lot of fun to be around. The kind of man that you DO notice when he is in the room. He served his country with honor, then served as a policeman on the Detroit Police Force, then moved to souther Illinois when he retired to help my mother care for her parents and then down to Florida, at last for some time to have fun. Where he made more and more friends who were also WW2 vets and their wives. My father was lucky. Both he and his brother returned home to pick up where they left off as did many of his friends. But I do know that throughout his life he never forgot those who did not have the chance to come home. And in later years he met annually with members of his squadron until they were gone.
The year before he died he had a chance to do the Honor Flight to Washington,DC. He was so happy to do that and really enjoyed the trip.
I hope in heaven he gets to meet up with those old friends again.
I also hope that some day we produce another Greatest Generation. I am not sure that their generation can ever be matched and definitely not surpassed.

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