Racial animus against Asians, including snide remarks about the “Kung Flu,” has no place in America.
My father-in-law, Al Prather, was a lieutenant in the 442nd Infantry Regiment during World War II. Most of the enlisted men were Japanese Americans, most of the officers were not.
Many of the families of the Japanese-American soldiers were imprisoned in detention camps, as a form of racial profiling – the United States government assumed that they might be traitors: including the mothers, sisters, fathers and little brothers of the enlisted men of the 442nd.
When it came time to ship out overseas, the military attached the 442 to the 36th Texas Division and sent them to Europe to fight the Nazis, under the impression that Japanese Americans would have no qualms about killing Germans. They did not.
In one of the most famous battles of the war, “The Rescue of the Lost Battalion,” the 442 fought to save the survivors of the 141st Regiment, mainly Texans, who were surrounded in the Vosges Mountains near the German border.
In saving their Texas comrades, over half of the Japanese Americans were killed or wounded in less than 30 days.
Their valor was recognized with more Congressional Medals of Honor than any regiment in the war. All this while their families were in prison camps back in the US. The general understanding of their valor was that they fought as well as they did to make a point: that Japanese Americans are courageous, hard-working, loyal Americans. Not people to be belittled or mocked. Even by politicians.
At the time Sam Nader’s Oneonta Athletic Association was affiliated with the Detroit Tigers, the MLB team allocated a certain number of baseballs per season to its Minor League teams.
Anything over was a local team’s responsibility.
At the end of the Oneonta Tigers first season, Sam Nader tallied baseballs used, and mailed a check.
The phone rang. It was Detroit. “What’s this for?” he was asked.
“That’s our share for the baseballs,” Sam replied.
“I’m sending the check back,” said the nonplussed accountant. “None of our teams ever paid anything like that.”
That, according to his son John, was one of the cornerstones of the Wisdom of Sam Nader, the former mayor and Oneonta Yankees owner who passed away Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 101, in his home at 96 River St. in his beloved Sixth Ward.
COOPERSTOWN – Arthur “Art” Henry Kiser Sr., 100 years and five days old, who served in the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Marines during World War II, then spent a career with NYSEG, passed peacefully away Nov. 23, 2020, at home, in his own bed, just as he wished.
His loving daughter, Teresa, was by his side.
Art was born Henry Alvin Kiser Nov. 18, 1920, in Ohio, a third child of nine to Palmer “Parmie” Kiser Sr. and Anna Roonie (Crace) Kiser. As a young child Art lived in Ithaca, where much of his mother’s family lived. There he enjoyed the company of many cousins.
As a teenager Art joined the Civilian Conservation Corps.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. entered World War II, Art became one of “Edson’s Raiders” in the 1st Marine Raider Battalion, Company C, fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Theater. He was first on Tulagi then joined the other companies to fight on Guadalcanal and in the well-known Edson’s Ridge Battle, the battle to control the airfield.
Malaria took its toll on so many Marines and Art was no exception. After months of recovery back in The States, he returned to New York City where, at a party, he met the love of his life, Helen Platt, a Brooklyn girl. After two months of courtship they married on Dec. 31, 1944. Together they decided that city life was not where they wanted to raise a family. They moved to Cooperstown and bought the home they lived in for the rest of their lives and where they raised their six children.
Art took a job in Oneonta with NYSEG, starting as a ditch digger. Before he retired, some 36 years later, he was working in the electric department in Cooperstown.
Art’s hobbies and interests included self-taught TV repair, auto repair, carpentry, gardening, fishing and hunting, and was an avid reader.
Art is survived by his children, Arthur Kiser Jr. (Lori) of Cooperstown, Sue Georgia (Buddy) of Walla Walla, Wa, Teresa of Cooperstown, Richard (Lori) of Apalachin and Timothy (Tara) of Milford. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Jamie Kiser (Teresa) of Whitesboro, Michael (Tiffany) of Cooperstown, Scott Joslin (Cathy) of Oneonta, Christine Joslin (Eli) of Marshall, N.C.m Nick Kiser (Stephanie) of Buffalo, Lexi Kiser (Dusty) of Copenhagen, Alex Lubbers (Lauren)of Spotsylvania, Va., Devon and Kaylee Kiser of Milford; as well as by his great-grandchildren, Dylan and Danielle Kiser, Jonathan Joslin, Kruz and Kamden Kiser, Coulter and Wyatt Lubbers. Art is survived by one brother, Paul Kiser of Milford; and many nieces and nephews.
Art was predeceased by Helen, his wife of 66 years; daughter, Nancy Lee Kiser (Feola); as well as four brothers and three sisters.
Graveside services are planned for the springtime.
Arrangements are entrusted to the Tillapaugh Funeral Service.
RICHFIELD SPRINGS – At a Vets’ Club dinner several years ago, Jim Andrecheck, who lives in South Columbia just outside of Richfield Springs, began to tell stories about his combat experiences during World War II.
What was amazing to hear was that he had four more brothers who had comparable harrowing experiences – and they all lived to tell about them.
• ► THOMAS, AIRPLANE MECHANIC IN U.K.
His oldest brother Thomas enlisted before the war started but wound up spending three years in bomb-ravaged England working as an airplane mechanic. “Tom was kind of a daredevil on a motorcycle,” Jim says.
He achieved the rank of master sergeant and was honorably discharged after the war. Thomas retired to Florida, where he died in 1994. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
►JOSEPH, IN OPERATION APHRODITE
The second oldest brother, Joseph, enlisted and was assigned to the Eighth Air Force. He became a pilot on a B-17 and was stationed in England during the war. Before the war, Joseph liked to box and play baseball, Jim says.
After completing 35 missions, Joseph took part in Project Aphrodite that was manned by volunteers. The goal was to knock out the nearly indestructible launching sites for German V2 rockets that were considered a great threat to American security.
The plan was to have the pilots bail out while another plane would then radio fly the fatigued but explosive-laden B-17 bombers directly into the target.
Joseph bailed out over the English Channel and shortly after he was picked up, the ship he was on fell under attack by German submarines.
Joseph Kennedy Jr. was one of the pilots killed during the Navy’s participation in this desperate mission. Joseph Andrecheck pursued a career in the military and after 22 years of service he was honorably discharged with the rank of lieutenant colonel and retired in Florida where he lived for the rest of his life.
► ROBERT, WITNESS TO NAGASAKI
Robert was the last brother to enter the military. He joined the Marine Corps in 1944.
When he tried to enlist in Utica, officials turned him down because four of his brothers were already overseas. So, Robert went to Albany and succeeded in signing up.
He served as a rifleman in the Pacific and participated in action on Okinawa. “At home we called him Beaver because he used to do a lot of trapping,” Jim says.
Robert witnessed the aftermath of the bombing of Nagasaki while the city was still smoldering. He was honorably discharged in 1946 with the rank of corporal. He died in 1981 of cancer possibly due to his exposure at Nagasaki. He was laid to rest at St. Joseph’s cemetery in Richfield Springs.
► FRANK, WON 5 BATTLE STARS
Frank, the youngest of the brothers (I’m saving Jim for last) was drafted into the service in 1943 and reenlisted after his first tour of duty.
During the war he served for 28 months in the 554th Anti-Aircraft Battalion that was active in Africa, Italy, Corsica, France and Germany. “I remember in civilian life Frank had this contraption he used to improve his speech – for what reason I don’t remember,” Jim says scratching his head.
Frank was a cannoneer on a 40mm gun and was awarded five battle stars. He achieved the rank of staff sergeant and was honorably discharged in 1953 from the Army Air Corp. He retired and lived out his senior years in California.
ׇ►JIM, AT 99, HE BEARS WITNESS.
Last and least of the five brothers in stature was Jim. “They called me the runt,” he says.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1939 and was with the 25th Bomb Squadron in Panama when war was declared. He was sent to Ecuador for a year and later to North Africa and then on to Italy.
He served as a flight engineer and a ball turret gunner on a B-24 bomber.
“The assistant flight engineer was supposed to man the ball turret gun, but I fit in there better – so we switched,” Jim says with a chuckle. “I was putting myself in the hot seat, but I didn’t mind.”
He flew 50 missions, incredibly with the same crew, missions described by the military as battles of great intensity where many men and air ships were lost.
Over Steyr, Austria, Jim’s crew had orders to bomb a ball-bearing factory. They were in a “Tail-End-Charlie” formation that consisted of seven planes.
“The German anti-aircraft fire was very heavy,” Jim says. “And their fighters and JU-88 bombers were on us.”
In a short time, six of the seven American air ships were knocked down. One engine on Jim’s plane was failing and had to be feathered and the fuselage was riddled with holes.
The tail-end gunner was saved from flak by his parachute and the navigator, in his flak suit, was hit by a shell that didn’t explode. “The skipper ordered us to bail out but none of us liked the idea of jumping into the unknown, so we stayed with the ship and tried for home.”
By that time the smoke from the demolished factory was rising higher than Jim’s B-24. The plane barely made it back to the base, landing on one nose wheel and one big wheel. The other was blown out.
Later, Jim counted 365 holes in the plane. His crew was later recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross but somehow the paperwork slipped through the cracks.
Jim is now 99 years old. Of the war he says, “I’m thankful that I got through it – that all my brothers got through it without a scratch. It was the greatest adventure of my life, though at the time I didn’t know it.”
Nine years ago Jim traveled to West Point where he and 50 other men received the French Medal of Honor for participating in the bombing of German occupied France in preparation for the landing at Normandy.
Jim Andrecheck has made some inquiries as to why he and his fellow crew members never got the Distinguished Flying Cross, for which they were recommended.
Now, he just hopes that one day a letter from Uncle Sam will arrive and instead of beginning with “Greetings!” It might start with, “We forgot something. . .”
“If I ever get that medal,” says Andrecheck, I’ll probably put it in a drawer—but it’ll be good to know that it’s there.” What Jim can’t put in a drawer is the aura of hero that he and his brothers carry with them.
Jim achieved the rank of master sergeant and was honorably discharged in 1945.
He is now retired and lives with his polka partner and wife Mary who he likes to say “makes the best cherry pies in the world.”
There was no parade, and the crowds that usually cluster around the Memorial Walkway in Oneonta’s Neahwa Park were noticeably absent during the annual Memorial Day Celebration this morning. Above, Master of Ceremonies Les Grummons salutes as “Taps” is played for attendees, who brought wreathes and listened to a short speech from Mayor Gary Herzig. Following the ceremony, some members of the legion stopped by the home of John Forman, left, to salute him alongside fellow WWII veteran Fred Hicken. Returning to Legion Post 259, the veterans were surprised with complementary lunches from Brooks’ BBQ, courtesy of The Porch Fairies, anonymous donors who wanted to make sure veterans were honored. In addition to lunch, the Porch Fairies also dropped off gift cards for groceries for any veteran in need. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)