HARRY G. VOLLAND|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
Paola, Kansas 66071
October 10, 1985
For the past 35 or 40 years, I have been looking for some word of our old Bomb Group 44th, but to no good. I'm a member of the VFW of Missouri, and Sec. Vice Commander of The American Legion in Paola, Post 156. This past summer, my oldest son asked my wife and I to join him and his family to go to the old K.C. Airport where the Confederate Air force was showing an old B24. At that time, I met a member of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Historical Society in which I became a member. I was happy to find out a little more about our group from the past. Then someone wrote me a letter about the 44th bomb group and wanted me to join, but somewhere I have misplaced his letter and had given up of hearing from him again, until you wrote me October 2,1985.
There has been a lot of water pass over the dam since I was discharged from the 8th Air Force. I have done mechanical work ever since I left the service. Came home and married my first wife, had four children. My wife passed away 18 years later, my youngest girl was eight years old. I remarried, had two children, and lost her in 1972. My youngest was six years old. I remarried ten years ago this December 6th. Well here it is six children, eight grand children, and one due in late November.
I retired two years ago this coming January 1986 as supervisor of the State of Kansas Motor Pool in Osawatomie, Kansas State Hospital. I had a heart attack in 1972, but doing okay so far. Enclosed is a copy of our county paper this past May. I have played taps for several of our past service men.
As you know, I flew with O'Niel's crew and have some info, but it is old. If you would like, I'll dig it out and send it to you. Also pictures of myself and crew. I'm going to write Les a few lines tonight. Thanks again for his address. Sorry to hear about chuck Benner. He was a swell guy and pal.
I would like to have one of your books on the 67th Squadron.
At the present time, I own a small engine shop here in town and drive a school bus. I sure enjoy the kids. My wife has 17 months more before she retires from the SRS Service (State Welfare) Office, then she and I are going to travel some and do what we have always wanted to do. Kids are married, no one home except two cats and two dogs. Ha!
There is one fellow I would like to find. His name was Bemis. He worked on the "My Achin' Ass" plane crew. I can't remember his crew chief's name. That's what age does to you.
If you want pictures of O'Niel's crew and myself, and what info I have, I'll send it to you. Will get back with you later. Also, let me know about any reunions that are coming up with the 67th Squadron. I'm going to try to make them.
Thanks again for your kindness of your letter.
Harry G. Volland
Route 5, Box 11
Paola, KS 66071
Article taken from The Miami Republican, Wednesday, May 22, 1985.
Taps: Time-worn bugle brings memories for Paolan
By Laura Phillips
On Monday, Memorial Day, Harry Volland will raise his bugle to his lips and coax the battered horn into the notes of "Taps."
It is a tune he has played perhaps a thousand times at memorial services and at funerals, now at the request of friends and acquaintances, but once as a duty to his country.
Holding the horn on a warm May morning, the wars seemingly a lifetime away, Volland points with pride to the dents in the tubes, more battle scars left by Volland's children than by any hazards of war.
"I had to solder it here just below the mouthpiece. The kids got a hold of it and broke the piece off," he said, chuckling at the memory.
The bugle, once a prime example of the spit and polish of the armed services, has seen better days. But according to Volland, the dents have not hindered the instrument's performance. "It sounds just fine, he said.
Going back to his first years with the bugle, before it became a favorite war relic to be shown to but protected from the children, Volland reminisces about his experiences as a bugler. He remembers in particular a song special to soldiers.
For Volland, "Taps," more than any other song has a special meaning. It draws forth emotions that are hard to put into words.
"It's just like seeing the American flag out there when we were overseas. It just sends pins and needles through me," he said.
At the Memorial Day Service on Monday, like those of past years, Volland will again play the haunting melody in memory of the war veterans who have died, both in the battlefield and in times of peace.
There was a time more than 40 years ago when playing that song was as much a part of the daily routine as eating breakfast. That was before the United States entered World War II and Volland was transferred to duty as a flight engineer on a B-24.
In the days before the war, Volland was a bugler at Fort Leavenworth. There, his days consisted of wake-up calls, retreats and parades. He was at the beck and call of the commanding officer and was responsible for calling the troops to meals, duty and to bed at night.
And because the base was also the site of a federal cemetery, he also had to play at three to five funerals each week.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the funeral duty became more ominous. A firing squad and bugler were sent to the funerals of each of the veterans who lost his life there and was buried at Fort Leavenworth.
But on a warm day in May in 1985, the wars are far away in time, although still clear in memory.
But the story of how Volland came to be a bugler in the Army has a somewhat roundabout course.
Volland entered the Army in 1939, presumably to gain more training as a mechanic.
"I went in specifically to get more schooling on mechanic's work. I ended up in a foot outfit of the infantry," he said.
Fortunately for him, he had played the trumpet in the high school band and he was able to arrange a transfer to Fort Leavenworth to be a company bugler.
His bugle, the same one he still plays, was issued to him in the fall of 1939. It was covered with a drab "army green" paint to protect the brass from tarnishing.
"After they issued them to us we had to take care the paint, take it off and polish it," he said. And polishing was something Volland did a lot. Polishing the bugle, polishing shoes, making ready for parades or drill performances.
"We had to keep a high polish on at all times. We had to wear white gloves because the skin will tarnish it," he said.
But there were times when playing the bugle was more than spit and polish, more than ceremony. It was a moving experience that portrayed the emotion he felt, his pride in his country.
"It really makes you feel good. It makes it all worthwhile. It's a symbol of the country," he said of the sound of a bugle playing "Taps."
Most of the time, he kept his composure, but there were times when the emotion of the moment was overwhelming, making him hit an occasional sour note.
Volland describes one incident he remembers quite clearly when the emotion of the mourners at a funeral where he was playing touched him more than usual, making his hands quiver and his bugle's tone unsteady.
The life of a bugler was fraught with hazards, too, for he was a favorite target of pranksters, particularly those who would do anything to delay the wake-up call.
He said some went so far as to take apart his alarm clock, reset the hands and put it back together. From that point on, he said, it was impossible to tell what time it was and he was forced to get a new clock.
But that was one of many pranks the troops played on the bugler, who soon learned to be wary.
"The guys used to put socks or handkerchiefs up there," he said, pointing up inside the rim of the horn. "You would get out there and blow and then you would know what happened."
"And I used to have to carry the mouthpiece around in my pocket so they wouldn't steal it," he added.