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American Veteran: For a World War II navigator, the Army provided a sense of purpose

2nd Lieutenant Edward Field, veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps, World War II.
Insignia Films
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2nd Lieutenant Edward Field, veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps, World War II.

To commemorate Veterans Day, the American Homefront Project collaborated with the PBS documentary series American Veteran and the companion podcast, American Veteran: Unforgettable Stories, to profile men and women who have served in the U.S military.

Growing up gay and Jewish in Long Island, New York, Edward Field never felt like he fit in. He remembers neighborhood kids beat him up every day on the way to school and back.

It wasn’t until he joined the Army during World War II that he found a sense of belonging and purpose.

“The military was cosmopolitan,” he recalled with a chuckle. “I escaped from a world I didn’t like to a world I did.”

He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and discovered twin passions: a love of poetry and a love of flying. As a navigator, he flew 27 missions over Germany, relishing the excitement of combat despite the danger.

Field shared the story of his crash landing in the North Sea and the act of altruism that saved his life.

Edward Field was recorded by Insignia Films for GBH Boston. For more on American Veteran, visit pbs.org/americanveteran.

This excerpt was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans.Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Elizabeth Friend grew up in North Carolina listening to public radio in the backseat of the family station wagon. She has been reporting and producing at WUNC since 2016, covering everything from Army history to armadillos. She's also the co-founder of the beloved summer event series Audio Under The Stars. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the outside world with her family, dabbling in esoteric crafts, and cheese.