Sixteen million U.S. troops,
550,000 families . . .
Doris Lindsey Darnell



On the Sunday afternoon of December 7, 1941, my parents and I were listening to a radio program. This was interrupted by the news that Pearl Harbor had been bombed that morning by the Japanese.

We didn’t realize at the time that it would escalate into World War II and would involve some sixteen million U.S. troops. Nor did our family know how much it would change our lives and careers.

My youngest brother, Paul, had graduated that March from flying school at Randolf field in Texas and was commissioned Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, at Kelly Field, Texas. By January 1942, he had been transferred to the South Pacific Theater where he was first pilot on a B-17 Flying Fortress with a crew of eight.
Although Paul was the only one on active duty, the lives of the rest of the family were also disrupted. My two older brothers, Martin and Charles, left their careers as an electrical contractor and a teacher to work on minesweepers being built at Huntington Beach, California. L. E., another brother, was transferred by Edison Company from Los Angeles to Cleveland, Ohio, for defense work. My sister Billie Lou, an elementary school teacher, left that profession to join the Red Cross.

I had been teaching on a three-year certificate and decided to enroll at Whittier College to earn my B. A. degree. In Whittier, I lived with a family who worked at McDonald Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, so I got a job there because I was able to ride to work with them. We all worked on the swing shift from 4 pm until midnight. I attended all my college classes in the daytime.

The war effort of my family at home was little in comparison to my brother overseas. He flew many bombing missions from Java to New Guinea. The Distinguished Flying Cross and distinguished Service Medal with two Oak awarded to him for his efforts in combat duty.

While stationed near Cairns, Australia, he was one of a crew of eight who volunteered to test flares. The plane caught on fire from a flare and was ditched in the ocean.
My parents received the missing-in-action telegram on August 7, 1942. They were inconsolable in their grief. Our close-knit family now had one missing member forever. Remembering Pearl Harbor is a sad memory for me because of my brother’s death in the war. This it must also be for 550,000 other families who lost someone in World War II.


Doris Lindsey Darnell was born April 11, 1916, in Ignacio, Colorado, the seventh child of Leroy and Eva Lindsey. When she was three years old, her family moved to Canyon City, Colorado. They lived in a big house on ten acres of land. She had a sister and five older brothers and one younger sister. She remembers their all being together as the happiest time in her childhood. By the time she graduated from high school, only her sister and she were still at home. She went off to Western State Teachers College in Gunnison, Colorado. After receiving her teaching certificate, she returned to teach in a rural school near Canyon City: four grades for a salary of $70 a month. After two years teaching there, she taught five years in town. In 1943, Doris and her parents moved to Santa Ana, California. After earning her Bachelor’s degree at Whittier College, she taught two years in Anaheim and half a year in Santa Ana. Her soldier boyfriend James R. Darnell returned from overseas in September 1945, and they became engaged. On Christmas Day of the same year, they were married in Clear Lake, Iowa, where his parents lived. Their daughter Paula was born in 1947 and their son George in 1951. When they were of school age, she returned to teaching. They lived in Algona, Fort Dodge, and Burlington, Iowa, before moving to Clear Lake in 1969. Doris and James celebra-ted their golden wedding anni-versary in the same house where they were married. After her husband’s death in 1998, Doris moved to Reno to live with her daughter..




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