It's hard to believe that World War II ended nearly 65 years ago. So much time has passed that we sometimes forget the sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces. Our community sent its share of young folks into harm's way, but there are fewer of them around today to remind us of that fact. Harley Loveless is one of the few.
I first met Harley last November, while researching a story for this column. At that time I wrote, "He's a bit modest, so I had to coax him to talk about his war record. I'm saving that story for another time." Well, that time is now. After all, Memorial Day is May 30.
The few WWII veterans I've met are all too modest to call attention to themselves, and Harley is no exception. His first response to my request was, "I don't want people to think that I'm some kind of local hero." But, I'll leave that up to the reader.
Like his father before him, Harley worked as a butcher in his dad's slaughterhouse for years. After the war, he opened the Baldwinsville Billiard Parlors on West Genesee Street. A 1954 Messenger ad for the place announced that, "If we don't have what you want, we'll try to get it for you." Like Harley himself, the slogan's simplicity and straightforwardness are refreshing.
Harley served in the army twice, but longest with the 443rd Troop Carrier Group in the 315th Carrier Group Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF). They fought in the Asiatic-Pacific theatre of operations from March 1944 through December 1945.
Harley's two tours of duty led his hometown to proclaim Nov. 18, 1999, "Harley Loveless Day." A Messenger article from the previous day stated that "Loveless was the first Baldwinsville resident to volunteer with the armed forces in World War II."