Together Again

Casual conversation and an old photo have led to a remarkable discovery for two UPMC Senior Communities residents.  

Bob Adams and Wes Piros have a few things in common. They live down the hall from one another at Beatty Pointe Village, the UPMC Senior Communities independent living campus in Monroeville. They both celebrated their 96th birthdays in October, only three days apart. Both are full of vigor. Both served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.  

What they didn’t know until recently was that they were “neighbors” in different quarters 75 years ago as Air Force cadets. Shortly after each man enlisted, Bob and Wes spent time in Texas to qualify to be a pilot, bombardier or navigator in the military’s nascent branch, the Army Air Forces, which eventually became the U.S. Air Force. After Texas, each headed to Indiana for flight training at Butler University 

Bob has a photo of his fellow cadets at Hoosier Air FieldAt the time, Bob recalls, he simply handed his camera to someone close by, the cadets lined up in two rows and smiled, and the image was captured.  

Most of those 20 cadets of the Army Air Forces went their separate ways that day. Some fought and died in the war. Others stayed stateside in reserve, including Wes, who served until the end of the war on the West Coast working on bomber planes. Bob went on to serve on the European front as a radio operator in the infantry. The year was 1944 

One morning Bob brought that framed black and white photo down to breakfast at Beatty Pointe Village. Neither knew when Bob shared the photo with Wes the incredible coincidence would reveal itself.  

In the photo, Bob and Wes are pictured toward the center, with Bob in the top row looking down at Wes in the bottom row. “I didn’t recognize myself in the picture at first,” said Wes, “mostly because I couldn’t believe it!” 

 Both men agree that the service taught them organization, promptness, discipline, “and the ability to pull yourself up by your bootstraps” in the words of Bob’s grandfather.  

The gentlemen do not remember one another specifically from their earlier days together, but they do share recollections of their time in Indiana.  

“We slept in the field house in triple bunks,” Bob recalled. “Some nights we laid awake, unable to sleep, wondering what tomorrow would hold.” 

 Wes remembers how the women and students in the town would sew and press their uniforms so that they were form-fitting. “They made us look like officers,” he said with a smile. Bob added, “The little decisions and actions taken by strangers had such an impact on the course of our service and our lives.” This proved true countless times, whether it be a commanding officer or civilians encountered at home or overseas 

“We are all connected to one another, dependent on one another, and our actions have consequences for others,” said Bob. “This was an important thing to learn as a young man and to remember now that I am older.” 

 UPMC Senior Communities is home to hundreds of veterans across its many campuses. It is a privilege to share their stories, to honor them, and to express gratitude for their invaluable service.  

To learn more about UPMC Senior Communities, visit our website at UPMCSeniorCommunities.com or call 1-800-324-5523.