Henry Link took flying lessons as a teenager in the Great Depression near his home in the Banksville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. In 1941, he joined the navy and became a pilot, but instead of being sent into combat he was sent to Texas to train other navy air crews. Among Henry’s trainees at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas, was an 18-year-old cadet from Connecticut: George Herbert Walker Bush. The future 41st president of the United States received his commission at Corpus Christi on June 9, 1943, making him the youngest naval aviator in history.
At our storytelling breakfasts, Hank showed some reserve in telling his story because he was never put in harm’s way like some of the others who attended our events. But we convinced him to stand in front of our camera for just a moment to discuss his contribution. Hank was suffering from some dementia by the time we recorded the interview, but his spirits and energy shine through, as does his vivid memory of those days in World War II.
On June 16, 2012, Henry Link and several other veterans shared their stories of military service at a Veterans Breakfast Club storytelling event held at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Near the grand ballroom where the breakfast was held, we set up four “quick” interview stations to record veterans who, like Henry, just wanted to let us know that he served during WWII. Before we could preserve his story in one of our formal sit-down interviews, Henry passed away in April 2014. We believe this to be the only recording of Henry talking about his military service.
The Final Story
Henry W. Link Jr., 92, of Banksville, went to be with his Lord and Savior Wednesday, April 16, 2014. He was the beloved husband of Jean; devoted father of Gary and loving daughter-in-law, Jill; and loving grandfather of Jillian, Joshua, Jessica and Jackson. He was a World War II veteran and served with the Navy as an air specialist aerial gunnery instructor, CPT pilot primary training. He was a member of First Christian Church of Carnegie, American Legion Post 156 and Masonic Lodge No. 743 and Veterans Breakfast Club.