Today would have been my father, Michael DeMarsico's, 100th birthday. I have two people to thank for his life. These long-ago heroes are Major Wyatt H. Alexander of Atlanta (pilot) and Technical Sgt. Ed H. Smith of Blawnax, Pa.
My father was a Sgt. in the Army Air Corps during WWII. While in this branch of the service, he played the sport he loved, baseball, for the Flying V's of the Victory League. My dad loved to tell stories. His favorite was of a horrible plane crash when he and his team were on their way to Waco, Texas, for a game. He in fact told this story right up to the day before he died two years ago.
En route to Waco, the plane, "Suzie-Q," held the Love Field Fifth Ferrying Command's baseball team. The plane made a crash landing with its wheels up after the left outside motor caught fire and caused the plane to burst into flames. Sgt. Smith ordered my dad and his teammates to throw all the parachutes on the belly of the plane and lay on top of them for cushioning. My dad said he did this, and was crushed as his buddies all jumped on top of him. Then after landing, the waist was jammed and the men inside were trapped. Maj. Alexander jumped from the door in the plane's nose, ran back, and knocked out several windows allowing the men inside to escape safely before the fire swept into its interior.
My dad told this story all my life, but I never knew the particulars included here until he died and I had to go through a file cabinet for papers. My mom was a secretary and kept meticulous files on everything. She had numerous articles about my dad's pitching talent from the time he played ball locally, in the Army, and later for the Chicago Cubs Tri-State League. My treasured possessions are pictures of my dad pitching and a baseball signed by teammates.
My dad was one of the nicest men you'd ever want to meet. He was liked and loved by so many people. He is greatly missed, but I know he is watching us from above and I'd just like to say happy 100th birthday, Dad, we miss and love you.
I would also like to send a special "THANK YOU" to the families of Major Wyatt Alexander Jr. and Sgt. Ed H. Smith. I hope you are aware of their bravery and heroism in what could have been a disastrous situation.