Immediately after graduating high school, George Morgan left his family and friends behind to serve in the Army during WW II. It was what everybody was doing, he says, there was nothing left at home to do. But during his training he developed debilitating pneumonia and was in line for a medical discharge—which he refused. He told the doctors that he didn’t want to go back home—so they let him stay in the Army.
Shortly after, George embarked on a sickening 31 day sea voyage and landed in India to serve in the CBI Theater. There he was put in charge of the motor pool, despite not knowing how to drive. That’s what the Army does sometimes, he admits with a puzzled look on his face. However, before leaving his post, he could drive anything the Army had on wheels.
In summer of 2013, Debby Rampolla and director Paula Kelly of Whitehall Public Library contacted us about a group of veterans who meet each month at the library and share their stories of military service. This sounds a lot like what we do through The Veterans Breakfast Club, we responded, and we were interested in visiting the group someday to introduce ourselves and to share our story as well.
That day came at the end of October 2013, when we were graciously welcomed to attend the Whitehall veterans’ group meeting and to record some of their stories. Seven local veterans attended that day; it was a comfortably intimate group, mostly old friends and a few new comers. On some meeting days, two dozen veterans might show up. Very often, just a handful of older gentlemen turn up, WW II stories in hand. Regardless, the veterans are openly welcomed by the gracious library staff with gourmet coffee and assorted pastries—irresistible incentives to warm the mood and prime the storytelling.
On the day we visited, we were warmly met by veterans Bill McLaughlin, Dave Lotz, Dick Gardner, George Morgan, Gerald Goslak, Hal Plusa, and Joe Michaels. Todd DePastino, executive director of The Veterans Breakfast Club, served to guide the discussions, while Kevin Farkas captured the roundtable banter as an audio recording—now available to the public on this website.
The Veterans of Whitehall
Seven Pittsburgh area veterans share stories of their military experiences at Whitehall Public Library. Featuring Bill McLaughlin, Dave Lotz, Dick Gardner, George Morgan, Gerald Goslak, Hal Plusa, Joe Michaels.
Recorded as part of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Initiative at Whitehall Public Library, Whitehall, PA, October 30, 2013.
Interviewer: Todd DePastino, executive director of The Veterans Breakfast Club. Audio: Kevin Farkas.