Major Francis Velaard Abell

In October of 1940, while a sergeant, Francis Abell was assigned to duty with a mobile recruiting station that operated out of a trailer equipped with cooking and sleeping facilities for three grown men. These men toured Oakland, wooing young fellows and fillies into the service just in time for World War II.

A veteran of World War II and the Korean War, Francis was buried in the San Francisco National Cemetery after his death on December 27th, 1982.


Lieutenant Colonel Christos A. Abramopoulos

Greek immigrant Christos Abramopoulos graduated from medical school in 1913, and honed his specialization in pathology and surgery at a public hospital in Kansas City until 1916. Then, when the U.S. finally entered the world war raging in Europe, this member of the National Guard was deployed to Fort Riley, also in Kansas. He went to France with a surgical unit, returning stateside in 1919 to set up his medical practice in the Phelan Building in downtown San Francisco.

After marrying Catherine Kaplanis on May 1st, 1921, the couple purchased their home at 886 25th Avenue in San Francisco’s Richmond District where they would raise four children. When world again dove into war, Dr. Abramopoulos answered his adopted country’s call for the second time, after which he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. This father of three first-generation American sons who also served in times of war died on November 26th, 1960, and is buried in the San Francisco National Cemetery, beside his wife.

For more information on Lieutenant Colonel Abramopoulos, as well as some fantastic family photographs, please visit the San Francisco Greek Historical Society’s website

In His Cups, They Look Good

From an article by Caroline Camp titled “In His Cups, They Look Good (But It’s Still the Army)” which ran in The Stars and Stripes on 21 June 1945. Be sure to read between the lines for Camp’s obvious dislike of her subject:

“PARIS, June 20–Cups are not necessarily an item of dishware, and they come in sizes. Girdles hold in, and garter belts just hold up, all of which means that Pfc. William Garber, Dorchester, Mass, and Pfc. Irving Berkowitz, New York City, have no illusions left about the weaker sex. In the U.S. Army, which claims it gives a man all sorts of experience, Garber and Berkowitz are selling women’s unmentionables to WACs here.

‘If the gals are shy, and blush when I ask their size, I tell ’em I used to do this in civilian life,’ says Garber, formerly in the wholesale grocery business. ‘We try to put the girls at ease.’

Between 40 and 60 WACs are customers every day in the enlisted women’s department of the QM sales store in Paris. Garber has been a salesman since March, so he only asks about size to be polite. His all-inclusive glance is a vast improvement over Rhett Butler. Both Garber and Berkowitz were in the infantry before they were wounded and assigned to their present jobs. Garber was in Co. C, 1st Bn., 1st Inf. Div.

It Was Flattery

‘You want a 36, small cup,’ was his greeting to a husky WAC sergeant, and in her case it was just plain flattery. She giggled and said, ‘I’ll take a larger size, just to allow for shrinkage.’

‘His personality is free of charge,’ commented T/4 Madeleine Bass, of Houston, Texas, who had just dropped in to say hello. Garber has lots of friends among the WACs, and they come back just to pass the time of day.

Just about that time a WAC private showed up, sporting pretty blonde curls and a nice trim figure. Expert as he is at mental measurement, Garber decided that this case needed a real tape measure when the WAC said she didn’t know her size.

‘Just what I’ve been waiting to hear,’ said Garber with a smile, advancing around the counter, tape in hand. ‘Waist, 24, bust, 34, hips, 36. You’ll be wanting a B cup, hum?’

‘This is a ver-ry pleasant job.’

This is also the U.S. Army. Today Pfcs. Garber and Berkowitz have new jobs. They are selling bolts of material, minus that personal touch.”

Sergeant Willis Clifford Abernathy

As any good southerner would, Willis Abernathy lied about his age in order to join the United States Marine Corps during World War II. Those lies left him wounded at Iwo Jima, and brought him home with a Purple Heart. As a civilian, he taught at a flight school in California before he took to the sky, permanently, on June 30th, 1995, landing at the San Francisco National Cemetery. One final touchdown, alpha bravo.