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Fred F. Faes Jr.
War: World War II
Branch: U.S. Army
Unit: Army Air Force Band
Highest Rank: Corporal
Date of Birth: August 27, 1921
Place of Birth: Detroit, Michigan


Fred played instruments early in life, especially in school. He attended McKenzie High School where he won a scholarship to the Detroit Institute of Technology. One of Fred's first jobs was playing in night clubs.

Early in the war Fred worked for Ford Motor Company and was not allowed to enlist because he was a required worker. Then in in August of 1942 Fred was drafted and went to Ft. Custer for basic training. He was classified as a musician and posted with the 523rd Air Force Band which was also known as the 23rd Army Air Force Band. The band was stationed at Camp Shanks, New York and was on duty to play for the men boarding troop transport ships bound for Europe and Africa. When his band was shipped out, no one was there to play for them.

The ship Fred was on went first to La Havre to drop off infantry troops. The band disembarked with them and then found out they were supposed to go to England. They had to re-board and continue on to Southampton. He spent most of the war playing at hospitals and dances but very rarely played for big name entertainers. They generally brought their own bands.

During his time in England, Fred had the opportunity to travel the country. He discussed the devastation of London and surrounding countryside, the shortages of everything and the courage of the British people. Fred was based in Manchester at the Base Air Dept #2 which was an arming stop for incoming planes flown by WACs. He was on base the day of the Freckelton RAF accident when an RAF pilot lost control of his plane and it crashed on the base.

He talked about an unspoken privilege system that regular soldiers felt the band members had. Fred's wife, Helen, was his high school sweetheart. She, along with his parents and siblings, wrote him often. He remembers having to reply to letters by writing in the latrine for light and quiet. Fred played the saxophone, trumpet, clarinet and flute. He came home from the war in 1945 and married Helen. He took ajob teaching music at Dearbom's Salina Jr. High School starting in 1950-51. He continued to teach there for 32 more years.

He lost touch with most of his war-time friends but keeps a significant scrapbook of photos taken by others and him.