.....Russell Skinner lived on a farm north west of Fennville and graduated in 1931. Russell was a WWII army soldier and his coming home created quite a story. He was on patrol with a buddy and when he returned to where his company was encamped, they discovered that the whole company had been wiped out by the Germans. Russ and his buddy immediately looked for a place to hide. The Germans searched for then, day and night and could not locate him. Nomadic goat herders had hidden them in their tents, under rugs. His family was then advised that Russell was “Missing In Action”. Russell found his way back to the American lines. A reporter found out about him and sent word to a New York newspaper reported how he was found. A person read about his discovery and called his family, telling what they had read. When the family was officially notified they said they had already heard it was in the news.
Friends and relatives words of remembrance.

Nomad are a group of people who have no fixed home and move according to the seasons and search for food, water and grazing land.

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.....Norman Skinner, Russell’s brother, was younger and  in the FHS class of 1941, the same class as my uncle Linn Sheckler Jr. graduated from, that would make Norm about 80 now. Because he needed to work on the farm to help with the fruit, Norm took leave from school. When the war came along he was drafted so did not graduate. At the time of this writing he was living in Indiana with his wife and granddaughter. He is covered by 60% disability from his injuries while serving in Europe, also in the Army like his brother.

.....Norman was wounded in Italy and hospitalized there.  When the fighting was complete there; his unit was shipped on to the Pacific. Getting out of the hospital, he was put with another unit and onto an LST bound for Marseilles, France. He stood for long, long hours in a fully packed, standing room only ship. They were strafed for hours by German air fighters.  Moving up through France, see Bill Sexton's map, toward and insight of the Siegfried Line, Norm was wounded again. See story of hitting the Siegfried Line. Norman has two Purple Hearts for being hit by flying metal pieces, hearing problems from concussion damage, and feet that have nerve damage, requiring him to use a cane.


.....The damage to Norman's feet began when he joined the army.  When they issued his clothing they gave him size 12B shoes.  He objected saying they were much too big for his size 10EEE size feet.  the issuing clerk would not listen and told him to move out.  Training required many long hikes and marching was really hard on Norman's feet.  They were slopping around in those great big shoes.  He complained on the hikes, dropping out where he was told to get back with the company.  Finally on one trip, sitting beside the road, an officer stopped, listened to his story and took him where he was issued the proper shoes.  It was too late; his feet had already infection and nerve damage beyond repair.  Norm did stay with his duties throught out the war.

.....At the time of this writing, Norm has to walk with a cane.  Norm's doctoring with the VA started at Chicago, waiting many hours in line. When he did get to a doctor he only checked his scars on his shoulders received from explosions, and then he could not find a ruler long enough to measure the scares, they being over six inches long.  Norm asked if he was going to check his feet and the doctor siad it was not on his record, you Indiana farm boys want everything.  Yup!  the doc was used to only city vets.  Now Norm goes to the Indiana hospitals that recognizes his feet problems.    Norm is also hard of hearing from shell shock. 

Norm told of an interesting experience he had in 1980 in the area where Vern lives, the state of Washington.  Norm was visiting his mother-in-law in Rochester, WA, a small town just south of Olympia, the state capital.  Returning home on a flight out of Sea-Tac, the day St. Helen's blew, his plane took off in an unusual direction, north then WEST.  The pilot advised them of the eruption and said he was going to fly in a path so all could see the action.  The plane was not full so all passengers went to the right side windows to get a view.  Norm said he saw three different fingers of ash coming up and coming too close.  The pilot quickly siad to all fasten yourselves town tight.  The plane began a steep clinb with engines whining.  They were in the wrong place.  At 45,000 ft. they leveled out in clear sky but still they could see the bomb like plumb going higher yet.  They had to change planes in Denver while the plane was being checked for damage.

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