My grandfather, John Wunsch Sr., died when I was 7 years old. My immediate family had moved from Australia (where my entire extended family lived) to Bellingham when I was 3.
He was in the U.S. Army stationed in the Pacific during World War II. He participated in the battles at Buna and Lae in Papua New Guinea.
At one point he had a leave in Melbourne, Australia. It was during this leave that he happened to meet my grandmother, Norma Joyce. They went to a dance together and then wrote back and forth after he left Australia. On his next visit to Australia he proposed.
According to my grandmother, the war bride, they had a small wedding on Dec. 18, 1944. They eventually ended up back in the states and lived in Highland, Ill, and then later in Little Rock, Ark.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
He knew General Douglas MacArthur personally. My mom (Alice Wunsch Darmanin) was about 2 or 3 years old and got separated from her Mom and Dad (my grandparents Norma and John). My mom found a group of soldiers and tugged on one of their pant legs. He picked her up, saw who she was, and took her over to her Dad (Grandpa Wunsch) and General MacArthur said, “Here is your daughter, John.”