BOLINGBROKE -- Harry “Red” Callaway bought a new Toyota last week.
Driving a Japanese car was something he never could have imagined on the morning of Sept. 2, 1945. He was a crew member on the USS Mattaponi of the Pacific Fleet. He was anchored nearby in Tokyo Bay when Japan formally surrendered in a ceremony aboard the USS Missouri, signifying the end of World War II.
This was not the first Toyota that Red has parked in his driveway in downtown Bolingbroke. He has owned one in the past. In fact, he drove his first Japanese vehicle right after the war, almost 70 years ago.
He was part of the initial occupation forces in Japan, assigned to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the months after the atomic bombs were dropped.
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He and a Navy buddy once found an abandoned car that ran on charcoal. They drove it around but didn’t know how to stop it. Luckily, they were able to bail out before the vehicle rolled down a long pier and into the water.
Red will be one of three senior military veterans from Monroe County who will be honored by the Central Georgia Council (Ocmulgee District) of the Boy Scouts at its annual Golden Eagle banquet in Forsyth on Tuesday night.
Karl Cartledge, also a World War II Navy man, and Glover Stuart, who was called to duty with the Army during the Korean War, will be recognized at the dinner in Vinzant Hall on the former campus of Tift College.
Joel Raley, one of the organizers of the event, said a “stellar citizen” is honored each year, but this time the decision was made to salute the three veterans.
“We are losing more of them every year, especially the ones from World War II,” he said.
Karl is 91 years old, Red is 86 and Glover is 85.
Actually, Glover claims to be 21. He and his twin sister, Gladys Rogers, were born on Feb. 29, 1928 -- both Leap Year babies whose birthday rolls around only once every four years.
Red has long been one of Bolingbroke’s most colorful citizens, even though the gray has caught up with his red hair. There once was a famous sign on U.S. 41 at the city limits of Bolingbroke that read: “Home of 301 Nice People and One Old Sorehead.”
Folks used to tease him about it, even though he was more redhead than a sorehead. He graduated from Mary Persons High School in 1944 and volunteered for the war “because I was just a wild kid and didn’t know what I was doing.”
After WWII, he returned to his hometown and operated a furniture restoration and refinishing business in Bolingbroke. He never was a Boy Scout himself, but he served as an assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 1 in Macon in the early and mid-1960s.
“I learned more from the Boy Scouts than they ever learned from me,” he said, laughing.
Glover wasn’t a Boy Scout either, although he might have qualified in the true spirit of Scouting. He grew up on a farm near Smarr, where his family members were sharecroppers.
In his youth, Glover probably picked enough cotton to keep all the Scout troops in Georgia in uniform for a year.
“We had to be like good Boy Scouts out there in the country,” he said. “We had to know how to do things like hunt and fish.”
Near the end World War II, when the draft age was raised, Glover just missed the cutoff which might have made him a veteran of two wars. He was later sent to Korea in 1951, where he was wounded twice in combat and hospitalized for 17 months. He received the Purple Heart and Oak Leaf.
He returned to Smarr, married his wife, Evelyn, and worked in the utility business.
He is active at First Baptist Church in Forsyth and is legendary for his beautification efforts along U.S. 41 with wildflowers, buttercups and roses.
Karl has to chuckle when he admits that he never rose above the rank of “tenderfoot” during his Scouting days.
But he more than made up for it with his military service, flying a Navy F6F Hellcat in the Pacific Theater. He participated in air battles at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Tokyo.
He continued in the family furniture business after the war and married his wife, Lillian. Over the years, he has been applauded for his commitment to community service with The Medical Center of Central Georgia, the Ronald McDonald House, Friends of the Library and Forsyth United Methodist Church. He established a foundation and scholarship fund in his wife’s name after she died in 2004.
Once, while speaking to a group of Monroe County Scouts about his fighter pilot experiences, a young Scout asked him if he had watched the flag being raised at Iwo Jima.
“No,” he said, laughing. “I was kind of busy at the time.”
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.