I attended the Senior Dinner in Caddo last night and hope to have photos tomorrow. In the meantime I'm borrowing a story from KXII and praying that they don't come get me. This story appeared last month and was written by Nichole Holt. I talked with Mickey last night and her story is so fascinating! She also said the television interview was one of the best experiences of her life.
The Ring Out Girls- by Nichole Holt, KXII, May 7, 2008-
In the late 1930's, World War II broke out. A bloody battle, in fact one that many are still alive to talk about. But we can’t forget those who battled from the home front.
World War II was a time of honor and bravery. You've heard stories of the men and women who fought to defend our country overseas. The war scattered people all over the United States and all over the world.
But this isn't a story about soldiers, instead civilians right here from North Texas and Southern Oklahoma that did their part in a time of pain and struggle. Mickey Johnson of Caddo, Oklahoma, was in her early twenties when World War II began. “We were civilians. We went to Tonkawa. We took six months of training to be radio technicians. It was just like being in the army, we had bed check and all that did everything you weren't supposed to do.”
Mickey recalls patriotism back then, meant helping any way you could. “It was something most people in that age bracket did. We all wanted to do something. That was really the main thing.” So she packed her bags and headed to Michigan to work at a B-24 bomber plant as a radio technician. “In this picture, I have on earphones and a throat microphone. My particular job was after the radio was installed, I had to check every connection to make sure there were no flaws.”
There were 23 girls in Mickey's group, better known as "The Ring Out Girls." “We lost track of three, the rest died except for the four of us.” Out of the 23, only four of them have kept in touch over the years. In fact, this spring, they're being honored at Love Field in Dallas.
Mickey says, “My friend in Grand Prairie saw this article in the paper. She called to see if she could get a ticket to see the B-24 Bomber. She told the girl that answered the phone, that she'd worked on one and would love the chance to see it one more time. They get all excited and wanted her to come to an interview. She said she would only do the interview if the rest of us could come.”
There is only one B-24 bomber that still in operation. It's on tour across the nation, so one last time, “The Ring Out Girls" took a trip, this time down south. “It brought back wonderful memories and sour memories because of the war.”
The good memories included bonding, learning and fun. The bad memories, in any war, you try to forget. “It’s hard to tell about it, it was so long ago. You either make yourself forget it or it will drive you crazy. Nicole asks, “So have you chosen to forget?” Mickey replies, “Yes. You don’t forget, you just put it away.””
Life has thrown a few curves for Mickey over the years. Some memories she’d like to put away, but then there are the good ones. The ones that make the “Ring Out Girls” something to talk about!
The actual B-24 Bomber is no longer on display at Love Field in Dallas. The museum is however, full of World War II memorabilia.