Press-Republican

Spectrum

February 24, 2013

WWII veterans to embark on flight of honor

(Continued)

Delumyea said he may have been reassigned from the Pacific to Alaska because of his experience working outdoors with electrical equipment and his upbringing in Rouses Point.

The weather and natural environment in the Adirondacks is somewhat similar to that of Alaska, he said.

About 1,600 miles was completed in eight months.

“It was just a bulldozed dirt road. That’s all it was,” he said of the “virgin territory” that was cleared to make room for the route. The effort to clear the harsh terrain was tremendous.

“We’re not talking about a straight line,” he said.

The completed road extended from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction near Fairbanks, Alaska.

Delumyea and 11,000 others in six engineering battalions worked in harsh conditions, with temperatures often 35 degrees below zero.

He used a two-layer mummy sleeping bag to keep warm.

“You had to be adaptable,” he said.

If a generator stopped, it was Delumyea’s job to get it going again. Troops passed through stations spaced every 50 miles along the highway and needed hot meals from the kitchen, which operated around the clock, he said.

The camps were power plants and refueling stations for military equipment.

Delumyea met his wife, Virginia, in Lake Placid upon his return to the North Country after an honorable discharge in 1945.

“Virginia is my angel,” he said. They had five sons and were married for 63 years before she died recently.

“As you look back, it was a dream.”

The Army taught Delumyea self-discipline, he said.

“The military never leaves you.”

’ONE OF THE LUCKY’

Robert O. Brooks was 18 years old when he left Dannemora and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served 17 months of combat duty in the Pacific Ocean aboard the USS Topeka CL-67.

Brooks was accompanied on the ship by about 1,400 officers and enlisted soldiers.

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