Skip Navigation

 

World War II Soldiers’ Stories

As part of our program remembering World War II and its impact on Louisville, Louisville Life sat down with three local WWII veterans to talk about their experiences.

For former Indiana Gov. Edgar Whitcomb, a WWII POW, it’s an incredible story of escape and survival. He published a memoir called Escape from Corregidor in 1958, and it was popular enough to justify a paperback edition in 1967. Whitcomb is also featured in On Celestial Wings (1996), which tells the stories of the men of the first Army Air Corps Navigational Class in 1940—the Class of 40-A.

Judge Henry Meigs is considered the founding father of the Kentucky Air National Guard. Meigs was a P-38 Lightning pilot who earned ace status by downing six enemy planes while flying with the 347th Fighter Squadron in the Mediterranean theater. His war experiences have been detailed in many journals and books throughout the years.

Maj. Gen. Philip Ardery, USAFR (Ret), is a decorated World War II bomber pilot who served two combat tours in the European theater, including participation in the famed Ploesti raid. Ardery was the Kentucky Air National Guard’s first wing commander and led the 2nd Bomb Wing during the D-Day invasion. After the war, he commanded the Kentucky Air National Guard for many years. Formerly of Bourbon County, Ardery is now a Louisville resident.

Ardery is also the author of Bomber Pilot: A Memoir of World War II (1996), published by University Press of Kentucky. That book won the Best Aeronautical Book Award from the Reserve Officers Association of the United States.

More stories of Kentuckians in WWII, including hours of video, are available at KET’s The War in Kentucky site, developed as a companion to the Ken Burns documentary The War.

The Kentucky Oral History Commission of the Kentucky Historical Society is also collecting WWII veterans’ stories. Call (866) 291-8189 for more information.

Program 204
In Louisville Life's war special: remembrances of three local WWII veterans, a rare look at life on the home front, a visit to the Patton Museum, and the story behind Kentucky's Medal of Honor Memorial. Plus, learn how a unique collection of local war letters are being preserved for generations.

(#204)