PARKER COUNTY —
When Peggy Boardman met her future husband Frederick at the age of 13, it was the beginning of a summer romance that would blossom into 60 years of wedded bliss.
“My family had a place in Staten Island, where we’d go for vacation during the summer,” she said. “He lived in Brooklyn at the time, but his best friend’s parents had a place in Staten Island too, and that’s how we met.
“He was 15 and I was 13.”
The two spent quite a few summers together before Frederick volunteered to go into the Air Force.
“While he was away in North Carolina, he wrote me a letter and said that he wanted to see me when he was home during furlough,” Peggy said.
Previously, the two had been on only one official date, and Frederick proposed when he returned home on leave.
“I knew I had always liked him and my family loved him,” she said of the quick courtship. “He asked me to marry him during the Christmas holidays in 1943.”
He would return again in April on furlough, and Peggy’s mother accompanied the two as a witness for them to receive their marriage license.
“We married April 17, 1944, and one month later, he was on his way overseas,” Peggy said. “It was very tough on me with him being gone.”
Frederick’s first duty took place in Corsica, a region of France, where he and a three-man crew did bomb runs. Frederick was the top tier gunner.
He would spend the remainder of his time between France and Italy on bomb runs. His crew and other military dignities were part of the Battle for Paris during the invasion of southern France in 1944. He and others would later receive a commendation from the French for their efforts
“He flew 56 missions during his time there,” Peggy said. “They were supposed to fly 60, but they suffered what they called battle fatigue, and they were asked to ground.”
When Frederick returned to the states, it was a very happy moment for he and his bride.
After briefly reuniting, Frederick was transported to Atlantic City and a recuperation center for three weeks.
From there, Frederick was sent to Madison, Wis., and then shipped out to California.
“My first thought was ‘Oh no, they’re sending him back out to fight the Japs,’” Peggy said.
But her fears wouldn’t come true, as Frederick stayed stateside and instead turned his efforts to fighting massive forest fires in California.
After spending time on the west coast, the couple returned to New York.
“He had been a machinist [when he enlisted] but when he came back to Brooklyn, there weren’t any jobs available,” Peggy said. “So my father got him a job in the print industry.”
Frederick became a lithographer, operating as a plate maker, a career he would have until his retirement.
He passed away eight years ago, days shy of the couple’s 61st wedding anniversary.
While the Air Force provided the opportunity for Frederick to serve his country and develop a deeper bond with his wife, it also provided him the opportunity to become an official U.S. citizen.
“He was born in England, and moved to the United States when he was 6 months old,” Peggy said. “He received his citizenship papers while he was in the Air Force in Colorado.
“My daddy said he wasn’t going to marry me if he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.”
Frederick documented his military journey by creating a case with photos and a Bible given to him by his wife.
“He carried that Bible everywhere,” she said.
The family also has a hand-written notebook, where Frederick documented all of his missions in his own hand.