WWII veteran with bittersweet survival story calls Columbus home
by John P. Wise (ABC 6)
Friday, November 11th 2022
For the ABC news story. https://abc6onyourside.com/news/local/wwii-veteran-with-bittersweet-survival-story-calls-columbus-home-jim-mclaughlin-james-stroud-ora-foggie-douglas-army-airfield-parachute-b25-b-25
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — A former aircraft mechanic who served in WWII and now calls Columbus home has an interesting story of survival.
U.S. Army Air Force veteran Jim McLaughlin had wanted to become a pilot but was instead assigned as an aircraft mechanic at Douglas Army Airfield in Arizona.
During down time one day, McLaughlin was told how to bail out of a B-25. And several months later, that conversation would prove helpful, as B-17 Pilot Capt. James R. Stroud was contending with a malfunction during a training flight.
Stroud instructed McLaughlin to parachute out at 400 feet. Stroud would die in the crash, but McLaughlin suffered only an ankle injury after landing near a cactus patch.
A newspaper article about the incident quoted McLaughlin as saying “I pulled the rip cord right away and hoped for the best. I was just 70 or 80 feet from the ground when the ‘chute opened.” The newspaper article also indicated that McLaughlin sought out the woman who packed the parachute, Pvt. Ora H. Foggie, who told the newspaper it was “quite a thrill to know that a parachute I packed saved a man’s life.”
In 1945, McLaughlin would be moved to Tinian Island in the Pacific, site of the launch point for the atomic bomb attacks that would end the war.
“Serving in the Army Air Force got me through college,” McLaughlin said. “How can you not be grateful for that? That’s where I met my wife.”
Now 96 years old, McLaughlin lives at a local retirement village. He moved to Columbus last year to be close to his daughter and grandchildren. He said he has too many blessings to count.
“So many things — wonderful parents, good fortune, I had a wonderful wife,” McLaughlin said. “I’m willing to admit it and appreciate it.”
McLaughlin met with Stroud’s family in recent years, telling his loved ones about Stroud’s bravery.
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