Appleton, Wis. (WFRV) – Arden Mattice was born in Wausau.
He graduated high school in 1942, and was drafted into the Army Air Corps for World War II in 1943– One month short of his 19th birthday.
“I was drafted from Ramsey County board number 9 and like most young guys, I wanted to go,” Mattice recalled.
Mattice ended up stationed in Italy, where he stayed for seven months.
He got credit for 50 missions with the Air Corps, where he was a staff sergeant gunner.
He still vividly remembers protecting those bombers during flights.
“It’s a funny feeling when you’re flying here and you see a plane going on fire here, another one going down over here and you ask yourself, ‘Why am I still here?'” Mattice said.
Mattice was one of the lucky ones.
He returned home from World War II alive and well, and went on to serve in the army reserves as an instructor in Fort Meyers, Florida.
“I just felt that I belonged where I was, that I was doing my job and I’m glad that I made it through, came back,” said Mattice.
It was a friend of Arden’s who sent him to Vets and Friends in Appleton, a place where nowadays he can socialize with other veterans, and a place where he says he feels at home.
“When I’m here with these guys, I feel like I belong here,” said Mattice. “I just have a feeling of camaraderie, people with whom I have things in common, and I’m just a natural fit,” he said.
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