On October 2, 2002, Barack Obama told an audience in Chicago that his grandfather had signed up to serve in World War II “the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed.”
Yes, his grandfather enlisted, but it was 42 days after Pearl Harbor was bombed, not the day after.
On October 2, 2002, Barack Obama told an audience in Chicago that his grandfather had “fought in Patton’s army.”
His grandfather was a clerk. He did not do any fighting.
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Obama’s mother’s father, Stanley Dunham, was a supply sergeant with the 1830th Ordnance Supply and Maintenance Company, Aviation, which serviced the 9th Air Force, fixing the planes, loading munitions and the like. As a supply sergeant, Dunham was responsible for ordering and managing inventory of repair parts, maintaining records about what was done to the planes, etc. In other words, he pushed papers.
His unit arrived in England about eight months before D-Day (June 6, 1944) and left for France about six weeks after D-Day, just about the time Patton took command of the U.S. Third Army (August 1, 1944). In December 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, when the Band of Brothers was freezing its toes off in Belgium, Dunham was safe and warm at the air base in Juvincourt, France, northwest of Reims.
On October 2, 2002, Barack Obama told an audience in Chicago that his grandfather “saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe.”
Between the summer of 1944 and the spring of 1945, the foot soldiers of Patton’s Third Army saw 281 days of continuous combat. No doubt they saw plenty of dead and dying across the fields of Europe. But Stanley Dunham wasn’t one of them. In fact, Stanley Dunham was as far from any danger as the Army Air Force could possibly afford to park its precious fighter planes and bombers.
In March 1945, Patton’s Third Army ground forces captured a German airfield outside Frankfurt, Germany. In April, the Ninth Air Force moved from the Juvincourt air base to this new base in Eschborn, from which they staged their combat missions in Germany during the final few weeks of the war. Dunham went there as well, no doubt toting his favorite stapler.
After the war ended in May, Dunham went back to the States. He was discharged from the Army on Aug. 30, 1945, after serving 3½ years without distinction.
On October 2, 2002, Barack Obama told an audience in Chicago that his grandfather “heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka.”
Except … there were no such “fellow troops.”
Auschwitz (in Poland) was liberated by Soviet, not American troops, while Dunham was pushing papers at the airbase in Juvincourt, France.
Treblinka (also in Poland) wasn’t liberated by troops at all. The prisoners rebelled and freed themselves in August of 1943 … a year before Americans set foot on the beaches of Normandy.