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The Dunn Family – Part 4

Part 4 – The End (?) of the Dunn Line
In 1939 Art Dunn returned to Ambridge after college, and became a draftsman helping design bridges and buildings. He worked in the office with his boyhood friend Earl Wakefield, and met Earl’s wife Dorothy. In 1942 Art’s father and his uncle died; he tried to help his mother and younger siblings, but felt he also had to answer his nation’s call. Art joined the US Army Air Corps. He went through cadet meteorology training in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and earned his commission. His grandfather Thomas H. Dunn died while Art was in flight school. In 1943 Lt. Dunn deployed to England. His 21st Weather Squadron of the 9th US Army Air Force helped to predict the favorable weather that made the D-Day landing possible. In 1944 his unit moved forward into Northern France.
On October 8, 1944 Lt. Dunn and two of his men were on patrol, in their mobile weather van, along the flooded Chiers River, near Douzy, France. The saw a makeshift and overloaded ferry capsize. The three men dived into the water and saved three french children. In December 1944, the Commanding General of the 9th US Army Air Force presented each of them with the Soldier’s Medal. This is the highest medal awarded by the army for lifesaving while at personal risk, in a non-combat situation.
During the debacle of the Hurtgen Forest battle, Art’s Weather detachment “YI” desperately tried to find flying weather for air support. Earl Wakefield was one of the thousands of ground troops slaughtered in these icy woods.
The futile Hurtgen Campaign was forgotten by the army command when the German Army executed a surprise attack (in unflyable weather) in what became the Battle of the Bulge. Detachment “YI” was one of the 5 weather units attached to the 9th US Army during this attack. Their front line units had to drop their weather instruments, to pick up rifles and bazookas to fight alongside their infantrymen. The 21st Weather Squadron did find the “hole in the weather” and Allied air power destroyed Hitler’s last offensive operation of the war.
Art’s unit moved into Germany before their surrender, and he remained for six months of the occupation. A highly decorated Captain Dunn was released from active duty in 1946, and he returned to his job at the Bridge Works.

Dorothy Wakefield was now working as a mail clerk in the office, slowly getting over her grief. She and Art became friends. In May 1948 they married and bought a house in Glenwall Village. I was born in December, 1949. We had a very good life. Art was also helping keep his mother and youngest brother. He took a night school teaching job to help make ends meet. He died in March 1954 while teaching class. He is buried at Sylvania Hill Cemetery. My mother, now twice-widowed, suffered a complete breakdown. She had not yet known she was pregnant with my brother when Art died. In October Arthur Allen Dunn, Jr. was born prematurely, and died after one day; he is buried with our father.
After Art died, my grandmother Bertha, her daughter Lillian, and son Thomas Jay, moved to Deland, Florida. Bertha’s sister Amelia (Flickinger) Bauman had moved there in the 1920’s. I have found all of their graves on line thanks to the Florida Gen Web. I have a dim memory of a family vacation to Florida in the winter before my father died.
My mother never fully recovered and made a bad choice in her desperate bid for security. She married the recent widower, Herb Marti, in 1955. In 1957 he adopted me and changed my name. I knew this man was not my father. Dorothy and Herb had a rocky marriage. She left him in 1974 and moved to Gettysburg, Pa. She divorced Herb in 1976. After I married, had a child, and traveled around for a decade, my family settled down on a farm in Adams County. In her last years before dementia stole her memories, she was able to share some of them with me. Dorothy finally left her troubled life in 2002. Her ashes are scattered under crab apple trees; she so loved their spring bloom.
After discovering on-line research, and after visiting many of my families’ towns to research original records, I have learned so much about my people! Of course, I wish I had been able to meet more of them before they died. Since my son has decided not to have children, perhaps he will be the last of the Dunns, but I have a feeling that there are a lot of us out there in Altoona, Deland, Hollidaysburg, and other places that I haven’t discovered yet. Great-great-grandfather William had at least fifteen children, and I am sure that some of their branches still flourish*.

Compiled and written by Thomas Joseph (Dunn) Marti
updated 5 Feb 2010
*PS: I have been able to update my father’s story by reading the micro-filmed unit history of the 21st W/x Squadron. I have been able to update the other Dunn stories by re-discovering my Aunt Betty, who I have not seen for 56 years. Soon I hope to visit her, and my cousins from the Florida “snow bird” side of the family.

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