Connecting through the generations: A tale of two WWII veterans and one family

Connecting through the generations: A tale of two WWII veterans and one family

Connecting through the generations: A tale of two WWII veterans and one family

0
Get started on your Homeland Security Degree at American Military University.

Nov. 12–WASHINGTON — A. Russell Hinchee found himself surrounded by the Nazi SS troops in an open field. Taken prisoner, he would just miss participating in the Battle of the Bulge. While he was in the POW camp, his wife divorced him.

Great-grandson Ryder Witherington knows the story well. He recites Hinchee’s story without hesitating, even describing the conditions of the camp.

“It wasn’t one of the worst … The Russians freed him and, like, scared all the Nazis away and let him free,” Ryder said.

Hinchee made it home from the war and started a new family with a new wife. His granddaughter, Karen Witherington, visited the National World War II Memorial on Veterans Day in 2019 with her family that includes four boys — one of whom is Ryder. There was a ceremony with a “Parade of Heroes” highlighting a dozen living World War II veterans. Ryder’s great-grandfather wasn’t among them (he died when Karen Witherington was six), but a friend of the family was: Charles “Bob” Swain.

“When I joined the Division, I was a young man,” Swain said. “I joined them in the Battle of the Bulge. It’s where I got my first action combat. It was a pleasure to serve. I don’t want to talk about the other stuff, it upsets me.”

Swain, who was drafted in 1944 and served with the 87th Infantry during the Ardennes and Rhineland campaigns, was excited to be at the memorial. “It’s just an honor and pleasure to see people here that you know,” he said.

Ryder was sporting various military insignia. He had an authentic Combat Infantryman Badge from Swain; his godfather’s captain bars that were worn in Iraq; and his father’s jump wings that were also worn in Iraq as part of the 82nd Airborne Division. Two of his younger brothers were wearing Swain’s WWII hats as well.

“(Hinchee) didn’t speak much about his time as a soldier,” Karen Witherington said. “But we found all his Western Union telegrams talking about his capture that had been sent home to his parents. And we have a bunch of his postcards that he was able to write home, and all the writing on them is German (across the top). So it’s really cool.

“We found a lot of stuff after he passed, that we were able to piece everything together.”

Ryder was with his family — his Gulf War veteran father George, his mother, and his three younger brothers: Rydge, Ryver and Ranger.

“We have a really cool shadow box made,” history buff Ryder said. “We also have the flag that was over his casket. We have a picture of him. It looks really really nice.”

tibbetts.meredith@stripes.com

twitter: @mjtibbs ___

 

This article is written by Meredith Tibbetts from Stars and Stripes and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Comments

comments

Learn From The Leader

American Military University (AMU) is proud to be the #1 provider of higher education to the U.S. military, based on FY 2018 DoD tuition assistance data, as reported by Military Times, 2019. At AMU, you’ll find instructors who are former leaders in the military, national security, and the public sector who bring their field-tested skills and strategies into the online classroom. And we work to keep our curriculum and content relevant to help you stay ahead of industry trends. Join the 64,000 U.S. military men and women earning degrees at American Military University.

Request Information

Please complete this form and we’ll contact you with more information about AMU. All fields except phone are required.

Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Ready to apply? Start your application today.

We value your privacy.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails, texts, and phone calls and messages from American Public University System, Inc. which includes American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), its affiliates, and representatives. I understand that this consent is not a condition of enrollment or purchase.

You may withdraw your consent at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy, terms, or contact us for more details.

tags: