AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Western Mass News 'Salute to Veterans' is paying special tribute to the men and women of the military.
What a better day to start than on Armed Forces Day.
This month Western Mass News sat down with an Amherst man who played a crucial role in communications during WWII.
Bradlee Gage, 94, can vividly remembers enlisting in the Army in 1943.
"My World War II service was basically in the Army airways communication system," Bradlee says.
While not in combat, he served a very important role nevertheless.
"When you have an air base, you have to have a communications guy there running it and responsible for the tower or direction finding system, air to ground and have a bunch of good sergeants who do it right," he explains.
Bradlee tells Western Mass News he started in Texas before getting his first assignment.
"You never know when you're in Texas about being assigned overseas. You wonder what your assignment is going to be, where you'd end up. Some maybe half a dozen of our crew, probably a good chunk went over to India and flew over the hump, running the communications in a small air base in China. Some of us were signed up to Alaska and that happens to be where I did it," Bradlee says.
His first station was at Adak Army Airfield. He arrived in the Aleutian Islands after United States forces drove the Japanese out during the Aleutian campaign in World War II.
"There, responsible for the communications air to ground, air to air, the tower, that sort of stuff," he notes.
Bradlee remembers Adak's hazardous geography and maritime climate made it one of the most challenging locations for an air base.
"You had nothing but fog and high winds. You had the warm Japanese current on the south side of the Aleutians and the sea on the other side and the two hit, most of the time there was heavy wet fog for squalls coming out of the mountains. Wasn't the easiest place to keep things running smoothly. But it got done," he tells us.
The communications work back then? Far less technical than today.
"At that particular time, part of the training had to deal with learning the operational setup on all the different radios that the Air Force used at that time. That time it was basically nothing but radios with tubes. Of course the tubes no longer around."
Bradlee was honorably discharged in late 1946 but stayed in the Reserve assisting with various military operations locally.
"I know one of the times I was assigned to spend the two weeks just reviewing all the communications setups at Westover and the tower and report back to him whatever he thought changes could be made," explains Bradlee.
"I'm glad to look back and see that I at least put three years in the service and did what I was asked to do and get an honor discharge. So I look back and it was certainly part of my experience growing up."
This month, we salute Bradlee Gage and his work as a First Lieutenant in the Army airways communication system during World War II.
If you would like to nominate a local veteran, active or retired, who's story should be heard, you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org