World War 2 Veteran, Ken Sharp

VMC Member, Ken Sharp, was raised in a Christian home and can't remember when he didn't believe in the Lord. He is a veteran of World War 2 and says that his faith definitely helped him during his years of service to his country. He noted that those who depended on the things in this world through the tough times struggled. He relied instead on the Lord, and it made all the difference.

Ken entered the Air Force at the age of 18, a week after he graduated from High School. It was 1943 and World War 2 was well underway. He went through a number of trainings in various U.S. cities and became a pilot for the military when he was 19 years old.

Once overseas, Ken flew a B-17. He participated in 18 combat missions and then became an aircraft commander, having the ranking of First Lieutenant. In that role, he flew three food missions to the Netherlands. At the time, the Netherlands was still under military occupation by the Germans. As they flew at a low level across the beaches lined with anti-aircraft artillery, guns were laid down, the gunmen were waving...and the airmen were relieved. Years later, Ken met an officer on a Dutch ship going to Alaska who asked him if he'd ever been to Holland. Ken answered that he had been within 125 fee of it a couple of times, so the man asked him to explain. As Ken described his missions, tears came to the man's eyes and he said that during those food drops he was a 13 year-old hungry boy, standing along the fence line (the very section where Ken had dropped the food from his plane).

Ken also was part of a group who picked up 300 French men on an alfalfa field in Austria. The men had been POW's for five years. Ken and the other pilots were charged with taking them home. Ken's plane held 30 of those former prisoners. When they got to the point where they were going to be crossing the border into France, the French soldiers in the front of the plane were alerted, and they in turn passed the news back through the plane. Suddenly, the soldiers in the back began singing their national anthem. Passionate voices throughout the plane began chiming in to create an electric atmosphere. When they landed, Ken watched those who were exiting the planes as they "kissed and hugged their land." It was a sight to see and one of the most meaningful experiences he was blessed to be a part of during his military service.

When Ken arrived back in the U.S. from Europe after Victory in Europe Day, home was still a difficult five-day journey away. Ken and other men returning from the war were placed on an old train that took them across the United States from Massachusetts. He says, "The ride was memorable to what the Donner Party went through in the 1800's." They finally arrived in California on the 4th of July in 1945. As we celebrate this 4th of July, 73 years later, we are grateful for men and women like Ken Sharp, who have represented our country and sacrificially served to preserve our freedom.