In 1943 my grandfather, a radio operator of a B17 , was shot down during a mission over Germany. The plane exploded but all members of the crew managed to escape. My grandfather landed in a tree,was injured, but managed to escape at night and attempted to swim to the safety of France. As he emerged form the murky waters, he was greeted by none other than a Hitler youth who held a gun to his face and smiled as he said…"FOR YOU...the war is over!"
My grandfather was taken prisoner and brought to the war camp, famously known as Stalag 17, where he would spend the next two and a half years of his life.
Back in the states, in Fair Lawn New Jersey, Jeanne Fleming, a few months pregnant at the time, waited patiently for her husbands safe return home. Unfortunately, the news she received was as far from that as she could have ever imagined. Michael J Fleming was missing in action and presumed dead. This was the cloud she lived under during the next eight months. She, like millions of other women during the war, had to carry on, for themselves, their families and for the veterans.
Rather than collapsing in her sorrow, she immediately changed gears and went to work for herself, her impending family, and her country. She volunteered for the Red Cross in Patterson New Jersey, doing any task she was assigned with pride and dedication. Many of these tasks involved organizing medical care packages of the injured veterans and POWs at the time. During this time she gave birth to my mother,still clinging to the ever dwindling chance that her husband was alive.
Eight months later, a miracle happened! The Red Cross located my grandfather at the prison camp in Krems, Austria at Stalag 17. He was alive! He was sick and injured..but he was ALIVE! They began and continued a written correspondence for the next two and a half years until his final return home! It was in one of those letter, that my grandmother delivered the news that he was in fact a father of a baby girl!
My grandmother spent the remaining days, months and years of the war volunteering on a daily basis for the Red Cross war effort, in any capacity that was required of her.
My grandmother is just one example of the proto-"morphmoms" of World War II who went from housewives to nurses, factory workers, welders and many many other jobs in a day's notice. They were single mothers, carrying the burden of the family as well as the constant fear of a knock at the front door that would forever change their lives with the fate of their husbands, brothers or loved ones.
Today not only military wives, but also our many active military moms, are all amazing examples of fortitude, courage, determination and the ability to become a "morphmom" at the drop of a hat! These women serve their country in every capacity, as well as their families in an ever changing environment.
I am forever grateful for this morphmom and all others that have followed!
I would love for our military morphmoms to share their inspirational stories and receive the credit they deserve!