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World War II veterans honored at Albany church

A Marine Corps honor guard brings the colors to a veterans celebration at Liberty Parkway Church of God on Saturday.

A Marine Corps honor guard brings the colors to a veterans celebration at Liberty Parkway Church of God on Saturday.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Call it an oral history of heroes as told by their sons.

Claude Surface Jr. now of Loganville became inspired by The Albany Herald stories on World War II veterans, which included his father Claude Surface Sr. He planned Saturday's day to honor veterans at Liberty Parkway Church of God.

"This isn't a religious function, and my dad turned 90 yesterday, but it isn't a birthday party either," the younger Surface said. "It is a way to honor World War II heroes and all other veterans too."

The day featured veterans who spoke of World War II, members of the active military and of course the proudest of sons. Jerry Doyal spoke first about his deceased father, who was a tailgunner flying on a B-26 Marauder bomber in the war's European theater.

Many veterans do not often speak of their service during World War II, Korea or Vietnam. They have their own reasons that could include the horrors they saw, the feeling that they did their duty and moved on or other reasons.

Doyal said his father Glenn didn't often speak of the war and his part in it. He did let bits of the story out now and then, Doyal added.

"My father died in 1990 at 70 and I didn't know very much of his experiences," Doyal said. "But he had recorded on tape what he remembered. I didn't find out about that until 2005."

One experience on the tapes involved the elder Doyal flying as rear gunner on a precision bombing run with 29 other planes. The mission was to bomb German supplies so they could not be sent to Germans advancing in the Battle of the Bulge.

The bomb run was a success, but German fighters began to bring havoc to the bombers.

"My dad looked up and saw that of 30 planes his was the only one flying," Jerry Doyal said in a brief synopsis before the event began. "He was eventually shot down and taken prisoner, escaped and stole a Russian motorcycle to get to the American lines."

A pilot in World War II, Claude E. Surface Sr. had a story of bombing enemy targets in the Pacific Theater.

Surface's record includes 35 B-29 accredited combat missions over Japan from January 1945 to July the same year. His last bomb run was from Tinian, the island from which the Enola gay would drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima eight days later.

In his war service career Surface was awarded many medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with four oak cluster and battle stars among them.

About 100 people came to the event to hear about the veterans experiences in service to their country and honor them.