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Veterans' tales

A look at three WWII veterans then and now

Created date

January 7th, 2016

Veterans of Maris Grove

The most treasured of Maris Grove’s 170 veterans club members are its WWII vets. Each has an interesting story to tell.

Here, three of them share their wartime tales and today’s blessings. 

Joe Ennis

In 1943, Staff Sargeant Joe Ennis was a 20-year-old tail gunner on a B-17 bomber flying out of England with the 95th Bomb Group. 

Joe earned an air medal for downing a German plane. He also earned a Purple Heart and his prize possession, a Silver Star. 

“It’s the third highest award you can get,” he says. “My crew put me in for that. On our second mission over Bremen, Germany, I was seriously wounded but I kept firing.” 

Because of his war wounds, Joe, a former Delaware resident, receives a military pension and VA health benefits. 

Maris Grove’s transportation department used to drive him to appointments at the Wilmington VA Medical Center, in Elsmere, Del. But Joe got tired of sitting in the waiting room.

Now he sees a Maris Grove staff physician whose office is in the campus medical center. His half-hour appointments start on time, and he needn’t schedule them months in advance.

He’s also part of Maris Grove’s musical scene. He plays drums in Millstone Lounge every Friday evening as part of the combo Toni and Joe.

Madeline Ford-Newcomer

Madeline Ford-Newcomer came close to Army service, but fate kept intervening.

The Brooklyn native wanted to go into nurses training, but as an early high school graduate, she wasn’t old enough.

Then she learned about the newly launched U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps. It recruited nursing students to end the critical shortage of nurses at home and on the war front. 

Madeline signed up and started training at Philadelphia Jewish Hospital, now Einstein Medical Center. 

The corps gave Madeline a beret, a uniform with epaulets, and a stipend of $15 a month that gradually increased until it reached $30. 

She completed nurses training in 1946 and was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant. But the war had ended, so she didn’t serve. The cadet program ended in 1948.

Madeline was called up during the Korean War but was pregnant and couldn’t serve.

She still has a cadet recruiting poster. It beckons, “The girl who wants a future.” 

A long-time resident of Upper Darby, Pa., Madeline moved to Maris Grove from St. Cloud, Fla.

Alan Macauley

Alan Macauley joined the Marines to become a paratrooper. When that program was disbanded, he found himself as a rifleman in an infantry regiment.

“I was a Pfc. in Fox Company, part of the 5th Marine Division during the invasion of Iwo Jima,” he says. In March 1943, he was severely wounded when his left arm, shoulder, and back were hit by machine gun fire. 

His temperature plummeted, but this tough Marine willed himself to raise it. Though Alan was in severe pain, he didn’t go into shock. 

Medics gave him morphine in the field and took him to the beach hospital where he received more morphine. “It put me on a high,” Alan says, “but it didn’t arrest my pain.”

He was then sent to a series of naval hospitals—by ship to Guam and then Hawaii, by plane to Oakland, Calif., and then by train to Norfolk, Va., Naval Hospital where he was operated on.

All told, Alan was hospitalized for 11 months. 

He earned a Purple Heart and a Navy and Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation, which honors extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy. 

Alan likes the veterans club’s camaraderie. 

“It lets you rub shoulders with guys who were in combat and also those who weren’t,” he says, then adds tongue in cheek: “I can appreciate the other services instead of thinking it was only the Marines who won the war.”

His move from Holmes, Pa., has given Alan’s children peace of mind: “Maris Grove is a safe place. They know I’m well taken care of.”

For example, when Alan fell in his kitchen and fractured his left arm, he called the front desk. Two EMTs from Maris Grove’s security team arrived in about two minutes. 

They called an ambulance, which took him to the hospital for x-rays. Then he saw an orthopedist whose office is just across the road from Maris Grove. 

A few days later, Alan started outpatient rehabilitation, which is located right on campus. “They did an excellent job,” Alan says. “My daughter, who lives in Gettysburg, says she sleeps better knowing I’m here.”