When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the GI Bill, it was a testament to optimism. Though the landings at Normandy were only two weeks old -- with American GIs fighting in bloody hedgerows, where gains were measured in yards not miles -- Roosevelt saw inevitable triumph and was preparing for the peace to follow.
With the fight for victory underway, Leo R. Croce was stateside learning how to pilot a bomber. He would eventually deploy to England and do his duty for democracy. He served in the 8th Air Force, which sustained some of the highest casualty totals in the war. Somehow, Croce survived 35 missions flying through flak and enemy fighters in the skies over Germany.