PRYOR, OK —
A photo framed and hanging on the wall displays a young man in uniform.
The war is still ahead of him as evidenced by the innocent smile not yet stolen by the cruel reality.
“I think I may have been 18,” Harry Bare said of the photo hanging in his room at the Avondale assisted living center. Bare is a World War II veteran.
“That was taken during basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky,” Bare said.
He spent two years in Germany and France, but luckily didn’t see much action.
“I got in on the tail end of the war,” he said. “We were behind the lines. I wasn’t in any danger that I know of.”
Bare was a canoneer. He got artillary shells together for the canon.
“It’s because of those canons that I have to wear these hearing aids,” Bare said.
Bare grew up in Adair. During WWII, Bare served in the military along with four of his brothers.
“All five of us were over there,” he said.
Richard, the oldest, was in the Army, stationed in the South Pacific.
Next was Ben, also in the Army.
“He drove the vehicle that pulled the 155 artillery piece,” Bare said. The 155 artillery gun was a giant canon on wheels.
His brother, John, was in the Army and served in Italy.
“He told me one time when they were fighting, they were crawling under barbed wire,” Bare said. “The guy next to him wanted to change places with John, so they did. The guy was shot in the head in the spot John had been in.”
Bare said John saw Mussolini hung upside down. Mussolini and four others were executed and their bodies put on display in Milan on April 29, 1945.
Brother Tim was in the Air Force. He was a waist gunner on a B-17 aircraft. The B-17 is a four-engine bomber. It is often called the Flying Fortress. Tim was stationed in England, but was then sent to Germany.
After the war, Bare went to college in Tahlequah where he majored in sociology and minored in psychology and political science.
“I worked on the Probation and Parole Board with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections,” Bare said, adding that if parolees didn’t come check in with him, he would have to go look them up.
“I’ve done some pre-pardon investigations,” Bare said. “I remember one man in Oklahoma City. He was in a rest home and they wanted to pardon him, but I didn’t think so. I didn’t think they should. The only reason he wasn’t committing those crimes was because of his age.”
Bare remembers another man from Tulsa.
“I had one on drugs from Tulsa I think,” Bare said. “His dad was threatening to kill him for causing the family so much trouble and shame. I talked the dad out of it. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t. I read he tried to swim across the Arkansas river and drowned. I guess his dad got his wish after all.”
Sitting comfortably in his recliner, Bare has a library full of memories to fill his time. And for listening ears, he has quite a story to tell.