Honoring our Residents

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Honoring our Residents

By: Delysia McNair

Howard D. has lived in Atlanta most of his life, and was studying electrical engineering at Georgia Tech when the war interrupted his career plans. Joining the army in April 1942, he was selected for the radar program. He went to OCS, finished his degree at Georgia Tech, and then went through MITRadarSchool. In the army he specialized in the 90 millimeter anti-aircraft canon, and was sent to the islands of Leyte and Luzon in the Philippines. When the war ended, he went with the 25th infantry for six months in the occupation of Japan.

Meanwhile Rita lived in Manila with her three sisters and a brother. She went to parochial school through 7th grade, and then was in high school when the war broke out. Schools were closed during the Japanese occupation of four years, but Rita managed to learn secretarial skills at a business school. She worked as a receptionist for the Japanese, learning enough of the language to answer the phone; in addition, Rita spoke Spanish, Tagalog, and English. “It was very difficult during the last year of the occupation,” Rita remembered. “There were no supplies, so the Japanese went from house to house taking all the food that was left. There was a prisoner of war camp, where General Wainwright was, at the University of the Philippines, near the river. The Japanese blew up all the bridges so there was no escape. Later, all the civilians trapped with Japanese on the other side of the river were killed – the whole city was burning.” Liberation came in 1945, but there was still hardly any water. “My mother and I would line up every day for a pail of water that was our daily ration.” Rita said.

Howard was sent back to Manila in 1946, and they met. They married in 1947 and three days later Howard had to leave for Atlanta.

Three months later, Rita left as a war bride and travelled by ship for 21 days to land inCalifornia February 1948. “Then I had six days on a train, and arrived inAtlanta in the worst ice storm!” Rita remembered. The couple lived inAtlanta, and had two children, later giving them six grandchildren.

Howard was a field engineer with the civil aeronautics administration, and did research at Georgia Tech on radar projects. He later worked with Scientific Atlanta as a chief executive officer. They always enjoyed travelling all over Europe andAsia.

Rita and Howard moved to Park Springs in August 2004. Their favorite thing here is the people. Rita has been involved with the leisure committee and the employee appreciation functions, and helps at the store. Howard enjoys reading and keeping up with all sports on TV.

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