Those who know Lawrence Alley will tell you that he is a humble man with a quiet, self-effacing spirit.
Alley, a decorated U.S. Marine Corps pilot in WWII and Korea, is one of our nation’s heroes. He has recently published a book about his military and flight training and of his life in the service and at home.
“My Generation, 1923-2013” tells the story of a young man who loved airplanes and at 17 graduated from Augusta High School and went to work at Boeing. He would watch the Stearman biplanes and think about flying.
Soon after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the 19 year-old enlisted in the Navy for pilot training.
He remembers asking for his parents’ approval and how his mother remained in the car while his father stood on the dock of the Frisco depot in Augusta and said good-bye to their only son.
For college and pre-flight training he would spend some time in Athens, Ga., Memphis, Tenn., and Corpus Christi, Texas.
About the time he had completing his training, the Marine Corps needed pilots. Anyone could volunteer to join, but the Marines would be selecting who would fly for them.
In April of 1944, the 20 year-old young man from Augusta became a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. There was even more training before he became a member of a dive bomber squadron. They moved out of the Solomon Islands and received orders to get carrier training and torpedo bomber training. In 1945 he flew 36 missions off some of smallest aircraft carriers being used.
Following his duty in WWII, the 1st Lieutenant remained active in the Reserves.
On Jan. 4, 1952, Alley received instructions to report to the Naval Air Station in Olathe. The 28 year-old husband, and father of two year-old Larry and two day old Terry, was going to become a fighter pilot and head for Korea.
Upon completion of his 100th mission in the cockpit of an AD Skyraider, Alley stayed on the ground and was an airbase utilities officer.
He returned home in July of 1953 and was relieved from active duty.
But in 1961, while he was building houses with his father, he received notification that he could choose to go “active” and be promoted to Lt. Col. The Vietnam War was escalating, but the 35 year-old veteran chose to resign his commission and stay home with his wife and three sons.
Readers of all ages can appreciate his exciting stories of combat and numerous photos. Alley’s love and respect for his military brothers, as well as his home and family are all part of the central theme carried throughout the book.
Page 2 of 2 - He states in the book’s Afterword, “I still look back at my military service as one of the most important things I have ever done. Serving in the military, particularly in the Marines, if you will forgive a little partisanship, trumps everything except being a faithful Christian...my years on active duty left me with a heightened sense of perspective about life, and about the preciousness of life itself. The memories of the guys I flew with in World War II and Korea have never faded. And neither has my pride for the Corps. I was lucky to get home alive, and I was lucky to have been a Marine.”
“My Generation, 1923-2013” tells the story of bravery and sacrifice that personify the true cost of freedom.
Alley’s book can be purchased now on line at Amazon.com and will soon be on local shelves at Cooper Drug, the Augusta Historical Museum, and the Kansas Military Museum.