Oren Hoyt was among the group of veterans aboard the April 16, 2013 Honor Flight originating from Waterloo. Photo by Jane Whittlesey.

“In the summer of 1925, my parents began a major building project which included a new double corn crib. When the wrecking crew tore down the old corn crib, the final job was to remove the old concrete foundations which extended only a few inches below grade. These made great places for rats and mice to burrow in and nest. I was the kind of kid that had to be where the action was. When the foundations were tipped over, there were rats and mice running in all directions. WELL! I had no fear of them, and with the urging of some of the crew, I put a young rat and some baby mice in my little overall pockets to take to my mother. I don’t need to tell you what her reaction was, but my little animals were quickly gotten rid of and the men were promptly given a strong lecture.”

So begins A Greatest Generation Autobiography by Oren C. Hoyt. The 170 page book begins with Hoyt’s earliest recollections, which pre-date the Great Depression. Following his graduation from high school in 1939, Hoyt enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps a year later, the branch of service that would ultimately become the United States Air Force.

Hoyt devotes several chapters to the time spent serving his country, including his deployment to Europe during World War II. He also shares the story of the courtship of his wife Gwen, and reveals an interesting fact about the wedding party that gathered on May 26, 1945:

“…the subject quickly became setting our wedding date plus all the details connected with it. One problem was to find someone to be “best man” plus 3 groomsmen. There was an acute shortage of men. As a result, neither Gwen nor I knew the young man chosen as the best man, and I didn’t know any of the 3 groomsmen.”

The Hoyts were blessed with three children and Oren writes about many of the family’s camping adventures that have taken them to nearly every state in the contiguous 48 states. Reflecting on a life well-lived, Oren concludes his autobiography with the following thoughts:

“I feel that Gwen and I have shared an unusually long life together filled with happiness and adventures. I must add that our richest blessings are our daughter, two sons, five grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren.”

A Greatest Generation Autobiography is an entertaining read that offers a very personal look at what life was like for a young man growing up in the 1930s and serving his country in World War II before returning to his Iowa roots to raise a family. The book is available for sale in a softcover with spiral coil binding for $35, which includes shipping and handling. To order, send a check to:

David Hoyt
360 Dix Creek Road 1, Unit 2
Leicester, NC 28748