Voices of World War II: Four Veterans Share their Stories

On Wednesday, December 7, the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, four local WWII veterans will share their remarkable stories at 7 p.m. at Boone County Public Library, 1786 Burlington Pike, in Burlington.

Bill Hargis will tell you about the night the destroyer he was stationed on sunk, “I didn’t mind the treading so much, it was the oil burning my eyes that was the worst part about that night. I had no one from my ship around me. You’d be surprised how quickly people disappear in the ocean because of the strong currents that come about in rough seas.”

Clarence Arand will share what it was like to fly a plane during the war, “I saw one of the B-17s in our bomb group take a direct hit in the wing… the wing was just completely blown off and the plane went down. You know you didn’t realize that those guys in that plane were probably killed. You didn’t think about that. You knew it happened, but you just blocked it out of your mind.”

robert-doolan-1Robert Doolen remembers trying to hide and blend in after his plane was shot down, “If I ever got captured, I knew I couldn’t have English printing on me,” Doolan explains. “I had gotten some native clothes, and I was wearing a tone-on-tone pink shirt, Dutch pants, shoes and a beret, trying to fit in with the locals.” Doolan was captured and spent two years as a prisoner of war.

Noah Switzer will talk about the 36 days he spent at the Battle of Iwo Jima as a hospital corpsman. He says he often found himself “up to my elbows in blood.”

World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945 and directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. Between the mass deaths of civilians, including the Holocaust, the strategic bombing of industrial and population centers, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the lives lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor, it resulted in an estimated 50 million to 85 million fatalities. These made World War II the deadliest conflict in human history.

On Pearl Harbor Day, remember those who gave their lives in service to our country and hear first-hand stories from veterans who fought for freedom.

All ages are welcome to attend this free program. No registration.

Voices of World War II
Boone County Public Library
1786 Burlington Pike, Burlington
Wednesday, December 7 at 7 p.m.

A Little Local History Lore: Riding to the Hounds

foxfoxhoundsThe sport of mounted fox hunting in America can be traced to Colonial days. The red fox, commonly associated with fox hunting, was imported from England in 1730. Gray fox were hunted prior to this. In the diaries of George Washington, there are frequent fox hunting references; it was a favorite sport of his. Here in the “new world” fox hunting enjoyed popularity in its highest concentration in Virginia and Pennsylvania. As a result of the Westward Migration, this activity came to Boone County with our earliest pioneers.

Mounted fox hunting season in early Boone County was traditionally observed mainly in the winter months. Despite the cold, our local participants were a fiercely competitive bunch. Awareness and interest in the success of various packs of foxhounds was widespread, based on the frequent coverage found in our local papers. The human participants also garnered attention regularly, though they often were mentioned with less enthusiasm than their four-legged hunting partners.

The gold-standard of foxhounds in Boone County in the 1880s-1910s belonged to A. B. Whitlock, of Constance. He was held in high esteem for his hound-breeding and training. Whitlock was also a “master of foxhounds,” managing the organized hunts, and was often a participant himself. Other leading fox hunters in the area were from the Gaines, Kirtley, Riley, Piatt, and Terrill families. These families also held hunts on their lands along the river from Constance to Petersburg, often hosting participants from as far away as North Dakota.

Though the competition and excitement of the chase certainly was a factor, these men also came to wager. Betting was an accepted practice, and hinged upon the quality of the dogs, who were truly doing the hunting. These dogs were often given whimsical names, such as: Cloudy, Parole, Dutchman, Boomer and The Bard, to name a few. Though the names were quirky, the dogs’ abilities and attributes were reported on in the newspapers with reverence. A writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1892 made frequent mention of the beauty and prowess of the animals, all seemingly a credit to good breeding. The dogs of A. B. Whitlock’s pack, for example, are described as “superior, speedy and thoroughly game hunters.”

The sport is still practiced here today, but the emphasis is on the chase, not the kill, unlike in the past. Another noteworthy change in the sport in our area is the emphasis on horsemanship. Though the hunt is still heavily dependent upon the training of the hounds, horse and rider now feature more prominently in hunt clubs’ focus. To borrow an old saying, some “ride to hunt” while others “hunt to ride.” Tally Ho!


Hillary Delaney is a Local History Associate at Boone County Public Library. She is a Boone County native, but has also lived in Richmond, VA, where she attended Virginia Commonweath University to study journalism. Hillary moved back to her hometown of Florence in 2007, with her husband and two children. Her lifelong love of all things historic brought her to her current position at BCPL.