Howard County World War II veterans reflect on service before 75th anniversary of D-Day invasion

Jess Nocera
Contact ReporterHoward County Times

Lou Schott, goalie for La Salle University's ice hockey team, was protecting the net in a game against Georgetown when he heard about the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941. He knew in that instant his life was about to change.

As Schott and his teammates headed home to Philadelphia, “we knew there would be big changes in our lives,” he said.

Schott knew he “wanted to get into battle.” He enlisted and entered into active duty with the Marine Corps nearly a year later on Dec. 2, 1942.

Retired Marine Corps Col. Schott, a 98-year-old Marriottsville resident, participated in the New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa campaigns as well as the occupation of North China.

In the Battle of Okinawa, which began April 1, 1945, Schott led a rifle company of 144 Marines into combat. When it was over three months later, only 18 men remained.

While Schott did not participate in D-Day, he remembers the day. He was in combat himself out in the Pacific.

Known as the “largest air, land and sea operation,” Thursday marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, also known as the Invasion of Normandy, an allied invasion that took place during WWII.

On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 American, British and Canadian troops landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of France’s Normandy region. The landings included nearly 23,000 paratroopers and glider troopers, 11,000 airplanes and 5,000 ships, according to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.

While 4,414 Allied forces were confirmed killed in the invasion, with approximately 6,000 more wounded, the coalition successfully liberated Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. The Normandy landings are credited as the beginning of the end of World War II.

When thinking back to his nearly 2.5 years in combat, Schott recalls “the valor and the bravery of the Marines.”

The Marines are the finest fighting organization in the world,” he said.

Schott has received several awards and medals, including a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, a Combat Action Ribbon and the WWII Victory Medal.

After the war, Schott worked for the Social Security Administration in Baltimore.

As of 2018, Howard County has 18,000 veterans with nearly 540 of them having served in World War II, according to the state Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.

Vivian “Millie” Bailey, 101, served as a lieutenant in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. WAC was the women's branch of the United States Army from 1942 to 1978, and they were the first women other than nurses to serve with the Army. Living in Oklahoma at the time, Bailey joined the service in 1942 after having trouble finding a job at home.

“Jobs were bad in Oklahoma and, when my relative described the experience, I thought it was a good thing to take advantage of,” she said.

After being commissioned in Fort Des Moines, Iowa, Bailey was stationed stateside in Georgia and Alabama, where she was a commander of a group of WACs.

“I’m proud to have served, quite proud,” said Bailey, a Columbia resident.

After the war, Bailey first worked for the Veterans Administration in Chicago and then the Social Security Administration in Baltimore.

Over the years, Bailey has received many honors, including a flag flown in her honor during an operation in United Arab Emirates, two Lifetime Achievement Awards — one from President Donald Trump and the other from Maryland U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings — the John W. Holland Humanitarian award from former Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, and the Millie Bailey Making a Difference Award from the Howard County Police Department.

Bailey has been sending care packages to active-duty soldiers since the Vietnam War. She also sent packages to soldiers in Operation Desert Storm and has been regularly sending items overseas since the 2004 Operation Iraqi Freedom.

She began by sending homemade cookies, but with the help of monetary and goods donations, she now sends service members word games, puzzles, snacks and magazines, including Sports Illustrated and National Geographic.

“Even if I hadn’t been a veteran, I wanted our soldiers to know that I am thinking of them [and] let them now that we are thinking about them,” Bailey said.

Read more Howard County Times news. »

jnocera@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jessmnocera

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
90°