What a Little Determination Can Get You – Footsteps In The Capital – Medium
No story comes without troubles. With only one day remaining before his graduation from the Aviation Cadet School in Bombardiering, the school officials learned that he was married, a guilt which carried a heavy penalty. As a result he was not permitted to gain his wings and become a commissioned bombardier. Nonetheless, young Russell refused to allow his disappointment overcome him and he entered a glider training program at the Plainview Texas Army Air Base, graduating with high honors and becoming an instructor. Harry went to the Southwest Pacific Area in March, 1943 and was forced to fly as co-pilot in B-25 medium bombers. On one occasion his plane was shot down by “Jap Zeros,” Japanese long-range fighter aircrafts, over the dense jungles of New Guinea. After many months of this type of work, his first break came, and he was assigned the job of ferrying gliders from Brisbane Australia to Port Moresby, New Guinea, an air distance of some 1,600 miles. Throughout his time he received many awards from the SWPA ribbon with one battle star to the Presidential Unit Citation, an award given to those showing extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy before or after Pearl Harbor. He also broke the ranks from noncommissioned to commissioned twice in his career, an unusual accomplishment.
Growing up my grandmother would always tell me stories about where she lived throughout her childhood. From Georgia, Alabama, California, all the way to the Philippines, they traveled all over. I mean that is one of the perks of being born into a military family right? Once his military service was over, the Russells planted themselves in Austin, Texas, where they would remain until they passed away. Harry spent his time cheering on the Texas, Longhorns and volunteering countless hours at Seton Medical Center (30,000 hours to be specific). I remember at every holiday my great uncle Skip, Harry’s son, would be pointing a video camera in our faces documenting everything to send to his father. “Say hi to granddaddy Kendall!” even though they could never be there physically, they were always with us. His persistence stayed with him to the very end, propelling him to the amazing age of 95. Harry Carter Russell passed away on December 4, 2014. Due to his immense contributions, he was given the honor of being laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. Such an accomplished and giving man deserves to be buried overlooking the capital he served his life to protect.
Washington D.C. will be forever connected to my family through these two exceptional individuals. From Lee Anna’s scientific contributions to Harry’s exceptional military service, they both made this world a better place. Through this project I want to dive deeper into both of their lives and how they impacted my family dynamic. I plan on interviewing my grandmother Harriett Embrey because she has a personal connection to both of them and will be able to help me fill in the holes in their stories. I want to tell their stories in a way that will paint a picture of what it means to be an Embrey. All I know is that the next time I’m walking down a street in D.C. it will feel a little more like home.