Russell Young
Russell Young

BY JIM LANGHAM

DHI Media Correspondent

news@timesbulletin.com

LATTY — Russell Long has spent his entire life living close to Latty where he has farmed and helped support the longstanding Friendship Baptist Church. Yet he has been in every state in the union and in Vancouver.

These days, the 94-year-old Long reflects back on his more than nine decades of living and his service in the United States Air Force during World War II.

“I left Paulding with the first 20-year-olds, I was a welder in the shipyards in Toledo when I got called up,” said Long. “I left on July 10, 1942 and went through Indianapolis. I took my training in Atlantic City.”

Long said that he was given such options as a pilot, gunner, radio man and airplane mechanic.

“There was no question in my mind; I wanted to be an airplane mechanic,” noted Long. “I went to gunnery school in Death Valley, California where I worked with 50 caliber machine guns. At Celina, Kansas, I was trained in chemical warfare. I went through six mechanical schools to become an engine mechanic,” continued Long. “I was ready to go overseas twice. In 1943 I was sent to Seattle but then I was sent back to Kansas to work on some of the latest modifications.”

Long said that when he started his work he was lucky to get paid $18 a month. It kept gradually increasing and by the time he was discharged as a sergeant, he was taking in $78 a month. Long was eventually discharged in late November of 1945.

“I had been in places all over the country,” said Long. “I worked from one coast to the other. I spent a lot of time in Kansas, but then I had checked B-47 fighter planes in Sumpter, South Carolina.”

Long noted that he would often get up extremely early to check the planes to make sure they were safe to fly out later in the morning. He had them ready to go by the time the pilots came out to practice.

When he returned to western Ohio, his dad eventually wanted to retire so he established his life into farming with his wife, Juanita and three daughters and one son on the family farm outside of Latty. These days, Long is busy working with his church, Friendship United Methodist Church in Latty, in planning their anniversary celebration.

Long has been a long standing member of the church where he served many years as a church trustee. He likes to reflect about how much the church has meant to him personally and his family life. His farm was often the place where members would gather for parties and meals.

One of Long’s most vivid memories was the time when members put the basement underneath the church. “I remember helping when they put the basement under the church,” said Long. “I was baptized here. It has been a big part of my life.”