, Muskogee, OK

December 6, 2012

Brothers answered call to war

Six Synar brothers signed up, two were in Pacific during Pearl Harbor

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor stunned the world.

Soon, the United States was deeply embroiled in World War II, with thousands of young men lining up to volunteer for duty.

The Synar family saw not one or two, but all six of its children sign up. At least two of them were in the Pacific on Dec. 7.

Edmond “Ed” Synar of Muskogee is one of two of the brothers who are living.

Of his and his siblings’ history fighting in World War II, Synar said the most amazing thing was that they all returned home alive. All six brothers were away at war at the same time, Synar said.

“Oh, our Mother. I don’t know how she put up with it,” he said. “We were lucky to come back, I tell you.”

Joe, the oldest brother, was an Air Force fighter pilot.

“He was a B-24 command pilot that led the first raid out of the Pacific — the 14-hour raid that bombed Japanese installations on the coast,” Synar said. He flew 35 combat missions.”

The second oldest, Stanley, was in the Pacific when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Stanley was a Marine fighter pilot — an ace during the war, Synar said.

Stanley shot down eight Japanese planes and was credited for downing two in five seconds.

“He dove down on one and came up under the belly of the other one,” Synar said. “He was a Purple Heart combat veteran.”

Stanley received the Purple Heart for the injuries he received when a 75 mm Japanese shell exploded in the cockpit of his plane.

“He carried around 15 pieces of shrapnel in his leg all his life,” Synar said.

Third oldest, Harry, served in the Navy as a commander in the Mediterranean theater, Synar said.

“He took the troops ashore when they invaded Italy in a major invasion,” Synar said.

Harry also was awarded a Purple Heart.

The fourth oldest brother was Steve, a merchant mariner, Synar said.

“He took the supplies, mostly highly explosive ammunition and gasoline, through Japanese lines to where they needed it in the Japanese islands,” Synar said.

The fifth of the six boys was Ed Synar. He served in the Air Force as a tail gunner on a B-24 airplane.

“Well, I was home at our place near Warner when Pearl Harbor happened,” he said. “And, Stanley was a fighter pilot, so I also wanted to be a fighter pilot. But they needed tail gunners on bombers instead.”

Ed Synar served in southern Europe and Italy, flying 31 combat missions before the war ended.

His younger brother, Val, was an Army paratrooper during World War II. Val and Ed are the only two brothers living.

Between the six, the Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy and Merchant Marines were all represented.

When the brothers all came home after the war, there wasn’t much war-story swapping.

“I wasn’t interested in talking about the war,” he said.

Synar went on to enroll in what was then Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma State University.

Today, at 88, he still runs his business as a real estate broker and owner of the Eastern Oklahoma Land & Cattle Company.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or