Alta Vista Farmer Strong Centenarian Proud Family Man Vividly Reflects Wartime Service

“He’s only one out of nearly six million living to such maturity.”

Carrol Joy of Alta Vista is unique.

Carrol Joy was a member of the 406th Fighter Squadron in World War II.

So distinctive most modern calculators won’t readily tally exactly how many who’ve seen as much as he’s experienced.

It was certainly a different time when Carrol Joy was born a century ago on the farm where he lives today.

The Morris County farmer has only vague reflection of those renowned “Roaring 20s,” but sharp is memory of lifetime experiences.

Born May 16, 1920, Carrol Joy will be center of attention for the 100th birthday party planned by his family.

Carrol Joy in uniform

“I’ve seen a lot, many experiences, great times, but my family is the best. I’m so proud of them,” Carrol declared.

Never shy, Carrol Joy visited nonstop for nearly two hours last week recalling life of a centenarian. “I’m doing pretty well, feel good, healthy I think, but sometimes I forget the exact dates of things,” he said.

Maybe so but few can have any qualm with what Carrol Joy says. Most weren’t around then and sure don’t have his quite precise reflection of days gone by.

“I was the youngest child of my parents Ross and Bertha May (Hesser) Joy. Hope and Bud came around before I did,” he said.

“My grandfather bought the farm in 1906 and moved here from Republic in 1909,” Carrol said.

“Now was Thomas Joy my great-great-grandfather or maybe different relation than that,” Carrol thought aloud in follow-up conversation. “Anyway Thomas Joy came from England in 1635.  He built a townhouse with Governor Hutchinson’s approval in Hingham, Massachusetts, and it still stands there today.

“That’s especially interesting to me because my daughter Cathy is married to Jerry Hutchinson that governor’s distant relative,” Carrol continued.

“Grandpa Lincoln Joy was my dad Ross Joy’s father.  He was born around the time Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and that’s where Grandpa got his name,” Carrol related.

“We were a farm family. Worked horses, milked cows, had chickens, butchered our meat, Mom raised a garden,” Carrol remembered growing up. “We didn’t have electricity, indoor plumbing or a telephone, things people take for granted nowadays.”

Chickens have typically been included in Carrol Joy’s farming operations near Alta Vista during the past century.

Fond memory is when his dad got their first tractor. “It was a Fordson. But he wouldn’t let me drive it for the longest time,” said Carrol, not recalling their first automobile.

Pleasant Ridge was just a mile-and-a-half south of home, so Carrol went there to grade school and also Sunday school. “Mom made sure all of us didn’t ever miss church. She was a stickler on that,” he admitted.

Attending Alta Vista High School, Carrol graduated in 1938 with a class of 27 students. “I think I’m the only one still around,” he noted.

Farming was to be his livelihood and Carrol joined the family operation on 278 acres. “We milked a dozen cows by hand Grade B dairy, then got a milking machine became Grade A,” he counted.

Despite mechanization and seeming prosperity brought in the 1920, times changed in the next decade.

“Times were not easy on the farm,” Carrol insisted. “The stock market crash of 1929 then hot and dry no rain the Dust Bowl of the ‘Dirty 30s.’ We thought it was bad, but there was more trouble ahead.”

The Japanese Navy attacked the United States Army on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii, initiating World War II.

“Pearl” was the last plane Carrol Joy of Alta Vista worked on during active overseas duty during World War II.

Carrol’s conversation picked up adrenaline: “I did not get drafted. I joined the Army.”

Worldwide difficulties for all, Carrol Joy anxiously remembered his important part. “With my cousin Don Fisher and his cousin Hal Fisher, we decided to enlist. I wanted to get in the Air Corps,” Carrol said. “We went to Wichita and then returned to Fort Riley and were sworn in January 9, 1942.”

With new uniforms, the new soldiers were given their first immunizations and put on a train to Leavenworth. Another round of vaccinations was given the soldiers before taking a different train to Wichita Falls, Texas, for additional immunizations.

“They kept giving us the shots. The same shots three times in a row,” Corral enjoys repeating the story. “We were shot three times.”

Basic training was in Wichita Falls. “There was closed order drill, nothing else, no rifles, nothing,” Carrol said. “I was on guard duty one night with five rounds of ammunition after an officer dropped them on the floor. They told me not to put them in the gun but I did.”

Airplane mechanics school soon began. “They gave us old books,” Carrol said. “We were looking at them, and the instructors insisted, ‘don’t just stand around and look at them.’

“They gave two of us a couple of brooms and told us to sweep out the hanger.  We missed most of one day of the school sweeping the hangar,” Carrol grinned now.

The soldiers were trained to work on entire airplanes. “Each type of plane had particular tech orders covering everything about the aircraft,” said Carrol, who still has his little pad with training notes.

Carrol went on to Santa Monica, California, then Key Field, Mississippi. “The 514 Squadron/406 Fighter Bomber Squadron was activated in early 1943,” he said.  It arrived in England on April 4, 1944, flying the first operational support mission into France on May 9, 1944.

“Our squadron flew support for the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, and arrived as a group in Omaha Beach, France, on July 20, 1944,” Carrol remembered.

Building temporary airfields only miles from the front lines, the squadron moved from location to location across France.

“During the Battle of the Bulge, we provided close ground support for the 101st Air borne as they fought for survival from Mourmelon, France,” Carrol continued. “I was delighted that we could get our planes in the air to give help to the ‘Battered Bastards’ of Bastogne.

“We moved to Y-94 at Handorf, Germany, and ran operations until the war’s end. I had close to 200 missions at that time,” Carol calculated.

He served as a staff sergeant being a crew chief for the P-47 Thunderbolts. His first plane was the “Sheriff of Los Angeles,” and the last one was “Paula.”

As a mechanic Carrol Joy kept planes flying. His crew served for one whole year, 115 successful flights, with not a single plane returning with no mechanical issues.

Carrol Joy earned the Bronze Star after 75 successful flights. He was also awarded the ETO Ribbon, two Presidential Unit Citations, and a Good Conduct medal.

He was discharged from the Army on October 13, 1945, but served another three years in the Army Reserves. “So I had nearly seven years of service to my country,” Carrol said.

Leaving the war front, Carrol returned to New York and rode a train to Fort Leavenworth and on to Manhattan. “I got enough money to call the operator to tell my folks to come after me I wanted to get back home,” Carrol said.

A year later he had a blind date with Edna Mae Hultgren at White City They were married on her 21st birthday, January 30, 1949, in White City. The couple was married 63 years before her passing November 3, 2012.

Carrol and Edna Mae Joy were married 63 years, raising four children on their farm south of Alta Vista.

They have four children: Linda and Duane Peter, Liberty, Mo.; Gary Joy, Chicago, Il.; Cathy and Jerry Hutchinson, Manhattan; and Sharon and Ron Brown, Manhattan; eleven grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.

A highlight of the family has been attending numerous World War II reunions of Carrol’s 406 Fighter Group around the country.

Yep, Carrol Joy is unique in many ways. Only 0.0173 percent of Americans live to be 100-years-old.

The U.S. has the highest absolute number of centenarians in the world with 72,000 living in this country. Japan comes in second with 68,000 Japanese who are 100 years or older.

Kane Tanaka of Japan is said to be the oldest person in the world at 116-years-old. That makes her a so-called supercentenarian, which is a person living to or beyond the age of 110.

Some remember the story of 969-year-old Methuselah in the Bible. Other examples of supercentenarian status are found in age claims of 122 years for St. Patrick of Ireland, and 152 years for Englishman Thomas Parr (1483-1635).

There’ve been incalculable changes in 100 years of Carrol Joy’s life. “I can hardly comprehend all of the technology there is today. My dad and grandfathers just wouldn’t believe it,” he speculated. “Agriculture is completely different now than when they were farming.”

What does Carrol Joy credit for his longevity? He’s uncertain. “I’ve always kept busy on the farm, enjoyed country living and following activities of my wife, our children, and grandchildren. I intend to just keep living, reminiscing and enjoying the good life for which I’ve been blessed,” Carrol said.

A 100th birthday celebration has been planned for Carrol Joy of Alta Vista.

The family will participate in a Zoom call to 785-537-9595 at Angel 95 FM operated by his son-in-law Jerry Hutchinson. Calls will be recorded and played back for Carrol Joy on his 100th birthday, May 16, 2020.

Postal messages can be addressed to POB 1471, Manhattan, Kansas, 66505, or emails sent to angel95fm@hotmail.com.