Frank Myers Was the Recipient of a Purple Heart
For Being Wounded During Combat in World War II
Franklin Leonard Myers is the great grandson of Michael and Bridget Grace Dunn. According to a “Cousin Calculator” I found online, that makes him my generation’s 2nd Cousin 1 x removed. “1 x removed” refers to the fact that an extra generation separates my generation from our GG grandfather Michael Dunn as compared to Frank.
Frank is cousin Carla Myers Busby’s father, and in writing about him Carla told me, “…he lives in Wichita, Kansas. He is a retired plumber, having operated his own business for several years.”
As noted previously in this blog, I was able to connect with this branch of our family after posting an inquiry on a genealogy message board - which led to my becoming acquainted with a very helpful gal by the name of Kate. I was looking for information about Michael and Bridget Grace Dunn, and Kate knew of someone else who was also looking for them. That person was Carla, and Kate linked us up.
It turned out that Carla is my generation's long-lost second cousin, also 1 x removed, and she has been working on her family history for many years. She provided most of the information on this page.
Peter L Dunn and Leo Peter Dunn
Peter L Dunn was the eldest son of Michael and Bridget Dunn and was Carla’s great grandfather. Early in my dialogue with her I related to Carla the story of my search for my generation’s grandfather, Eugene Michael Dunn. I also told her that he seemed to have disappeared after abandoning his wife, Hazel Nolan Dunn, and two small children, William Edward (Bill) and Rita Jane Dunn, sometime after Rita was born in 1928. In response, I received the following from her:
We must be related!
My grandfather, Leo Peter Dunn, also abandoned his wife and 2 small sons in 1924. My father had no use for the man, and Dad always said, 'I wouldn't recognize him if I saw him and I sure wouldn't walk across the street to shake his hand.'
My grandmother, Ruth Irene Dunn, remarried and my father took his stepfather's last name. I never met the Dunn side of the family, I heard bits and pieces growing up and I should mention that what information I did hear was not flattering.
During a visit with a Great-Aunt, she showed me a picture of my grandfather, a wedding certificate and an excerpt from my grandmother's diary. That started my search, from just those few items.
I was told my grandfather died in a car wreck in Colorado during WWII. I spent at least 10 years looking for that man! Surfing the Web one evening, I came across his name in the California Death Index. Thru an 'Act of Genealogical Kindness' I received a copy of his Death Certificate. He died of TB in Los Angeles, in 1942.
He claimed no family, and no family claimed him. Instead of a simple burial, his body was used for medical research.
Over the past 5 years, information about him has trickled in. I've discovered he was a 'Con Man.' He married one woman, told her he had never been married, never had children and his parents were dead. Then he stole her car, sold it and disappeared. The general family consensus is - being used for medical research, he may possibly have contributed something positive - finally...."
The story above about Leo Dunn is included on this page because it explains something that would otherwise be confusing in understanding Frank Myers’ story. Although Carla’s father Frank was born a Dunn, his name became Myers - and her maiden name was Myers, although she’s also a Dunn via her biological ancestry.
The relevance of all this will become apparent when you read the essay below about Frank Myers and his experiences during World War II, which Carla sent in response to my request for info about family members who have served in the military.
She proudly sent photos and the essay, and in sending them she said, “My father, Franklin L. (Dunn) Myers, served during WWII. He was in the Army, serving under General George Patton. Franklin L. (Dunn) Myers is the grandson of Peter L. Dunn, [and is] the great grandson of Michael and Bridget Grace Dunn.”
She also said, “A few years ago my son, Brian, did a special report on his Grandfather's military service. I am including it with a few pictures of my father during that time. In earlier conversations with you, you expressed a great interest in family lore. Please indulge a proud daughter and mother with her collection of memories!”
I asked Carla for permission to share the story about her father’s name change from Dunn to Myers, and she said, “Yes, you have my permission to [tell] the Dunn/Myers family information. It has been confusing to say the least, hopefully this will help explain our situation.”
She added, “I recently spoke with my father, Frank, and explained that I have been in contact with the Dunn Family. He is very interested and somewhat amazed by it all. He recently turned 86 and is in very frail health. I have been keeping him abreast of our progress on the research and he made the comment, ‘After 84 years, sounds like they might be pretty nice after all.’ I have to totally agree!”
About the Essay
Included below is what may be the most profoundly valuable story I’ve encountered so far in the process of assembling our Family History.
It’s the essay written by Frank Myers' grandson, Brian, as a school assignment. It's about a member of our family who was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded in combat during World War II. He was also one of the soldiers involved in the liberation of prisoners in Nazi Germany, including those in the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp.
Thank you, Carla, for your willingness to share this story; I am incredibly grateful to learn about your dad - and the contributions he made to our freedom from Hitler's tyranny. Without his efforts - and those of the many others who served - who knows how many more millions of people would have been exterminated by the Nazis? It boggles my mind to contemplate what might have occurred if the U.S. had not won that horrible war.
Serving In Patton's Third Army
My Grandfather’s Memories
By Brian Busby
For the past several weeks, our American History class has been studying World War II. We have read our textbooks [and] watched “Schindler’s List”, but the most interesting has been the personal accounts by several Veterans who visited our class.
I chose to do my writing project on my grandfather’s personal experiences during this time. My grandfather can tell a story about every person he has met, he’s a very talkative guy, but when it comes to WWII, he doesn’t say much about his experiences, more often than not, when asked about them, he will reply “I’ve tried to forget all that.”
After the events of September 11,  there was a slight chance that I could be drafted. I realized that I was near the same age as my grandfather when he was drafted in 1941. Approximately 60 years later, I could face what he had endured. Just knowing what little I did, I wanted to know more, I wanted him to share with me. My parents over the years had pieced together information about Grandpa’s military service. With their notes, stories, online research and a very long phone conversation with my grandfather, I learned more than I could ever imagine.
Franklin Myers was 19 when WWII broke out. A Kansas farm boy, with a young son, he was drafted and started Army Basic Training in 1941. He was stationed at several Army bases: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where one of his duties was butchering sheep; Camp Blanding, Florida; Camp Robinson, Arkansas; Fort Rooker, Alabama; Fort Belvore, Virginia, where he attended school; Fort Benning, Georgia, where he attended a Specialist School in Mechanics.
At Fort Benning, he was assigned to Patton’s 2nd Armored Division. After undergoing training in Tanks and other armored vehicles, he was sent to Camp Shanks, New York. He shipped out from there on a troop transport, late 1942, headed for North Africa.
His voyage across the Atlantic was not very pleasant. His ship carried 300 to 400 men, all of whom were seasick most of the trip. They were heading to North Africa to join Patton’s 3rd Army Western Task Force. Off the coast of Spain/ Portugal, in the Strait of Gibraltar, the troop transport was torpedoed and destroyed. Out of the 300 to 400 men, only 80 survived. The survivors of the transport were picked up by a destroyer and taken to North Africa where they joined Patton’s troops.
Patton swept North Africa while the British Commander Montgomery swept Egypt and forced the Germans to retreat. Grandpa relates a story about being in his foxhole late at night. The French Moroccan soldiers were known for quietly sneaking into the American’s foxholes. They were American allies, so they posed no threat. They dressed all in black and they were never seen or heard until suddenly their knife was at your throat. The Moroccan soldier would whisper “Joe?” After quickly assuring them that they were GIs, the Moroccan soldier would cut themselves, drawing blood then sheath their knife, then ask for a cigarette. They would cup their hands around the burning end of the cigarette so the glow wouldn’t give away their position.
After serving 45 days in North Africa, Grandpa’s outfit headed for Sicily. He left from either Tunisia or Algiers. The Invasion of Sicily was in June 1943. Patton’s 3rd Army pushed the Germans out of Sicily. The battle lasted over 13 days.
Patton’s troops were then sent to England. For 18 months, they trained for D-Day. Grandpa was a PFC, Private First Class, with the credentials of Mechanic/ Truck Driver and Demolitionist. He spent a lot of time roaming the English countryside at this time, where he actually met General Patton during one of his little escapades.
Grandpa and a fellow soldier had “commandeered” a “Cherry picker” and had parked it underneath a Cherry tree, breaking off branches and eating the ripe cherries. Several military vehicles proceed to their location and suddenly stop. Stepping out of one of the vehicles is General Patton. He walked over to Grandpa, looked at the Cherry Picker, looked at the soldier breaking off branches and said, “Well boys, looks like you found a good use for that Cherry Picker, that’s probably the only thing that damn thing is good for!” Then, to Grandpa’s relief and great surprise, Patton said, “While you’re up there, break me off some of those damn cherries!”
On June 6, 1944, the D-Day Invasion began. Patton’s troops landed at Ingram Beach. Grandpa will not talk about D-Day. He tells of seeing things that he’d rather not talk about. After watching the movie, “Saving Private Ryan,” I think I understand his reasons not to relive his memories.
In the fall of 1944, Grandpa went to France. There he was involved with the Breakthrough at Saint-Lo. Grandpa’s tank was blown up during this time. There is a picture, published in the Stars and Stripes military newspaper, of his burning tank sitting on a hillside at sunset at Saint-Lo. Shortly thereafter, Grandpa was in a jeep that was hit by a mortar round. As he was jumping to safety, he was hit by shrapnel and wounded. [For this] He received the Purple Heart.
After recovering from his wounds, he next was involved in the Battle of the Bulge, driving the Germans out of France. He was in Belgium, Luxembourg and in March 1945, they crossed the Rhine into Germany. At this time, his outfit started coming across Concentration Camps. Patton’s 3rd Army liberated two smaller camps, then in April of 1945, they liberated Buchenwald. [Some photos of Buchenwald can be seen here.]
Grandpa speaks of the prisoners grabbing, hugging, crying and thanking him. He spoke of the horrendous physical condition of the prisoners and of the terrible smell of the camp.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp was built between 1935 and 1937. It was one of the first camps and was a model for all the others. There were “state-of-art torture” and “scientific studies” facilities, as well as the gas chambers and crematoriums. Estimates claim possibly 100,000 prisoners died there. When Patton’s troops liberated Buchenwald, they found pile of ashes, bodies stacked like cord wood, flatbed wagons full of bodies, waiting to be incinerated, and the ovens still burning bodies.
Grandpa was then stationed at Victor Red Camp outside of Berlin. He was there when V.E. Day* was declared in May 1945. He was then sent to Marseilles, France, where he boarded a ship to come home.
Grandpa was discharged in 1946. He served 5 years, most of it in combat. He speaks of serving under General George Patton, one of the most celebrated Generals in American History. Grandpa still respects Patton and was proud to be associated with him.
I’m very proud of my Grandfather. I now realize that at a very young age, in serving his country, he faced and survived quite a lot.
■ *V.E. Day = Victory in Europe Day, which marked the surrender of Germany and the end of the war in Europe. However, the war continued in the Pacific theatre until August of 1945.
■ For more on General Patton, click this link.
■ For an understanding of the significance of the Purple Heart, see this site: Purple Heart
■ Here's some info about finances in the era when Frank Myers was discharged from the Army. In 1946 a gallon of milk cost 70¢, a loaf of bread cost 10¢, a new car sold for $1,400, a gallon of gas cost 16¢, and a new house sold for $12,638. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was about 177 and the average wage earner in 1946 earned $2,390 per year.
Last updated 5/11/09