Pliny George Saeger was born the third child of four to Pliny and Marie Saeger in Seattle, Washington. Although the historical pronunciation of Pliny, as in Pliny the Elder, the Roman who documented the explosion of Vesuvius, was with a soft 'I' as in the word ill, the Saegers pronounced it Pl-EYE-ny. All that aside, he was pretty much just known as Son, or Sonny.
John (L) with brother Pliny
All the children were born about two years apart with the two girls, Katherine and June being the oldest ,and he was followed by his brother, John. The Saeger children were born and raised in West Seattle and all attended Jefferson Elementary, Madison Jr. High and West Seattle High School. Pliny Saeger Sr. was a printer for the University of Washington and he took great interest in taking his sons salmon fishing and also on many gold panning trips in to the Washington mountain ranges.
West Seattle was a far cry back then from what it has become today and the boys regularly practiced shooting with a .22 caliber, octagon barrel Savage rifle. They shot that rifle so much in fact that they wore the firing pin down and had to raplace it with a nail. Nevertheless, the practice paid off and Pliny was ranked a Marksman when he entered WWII.
Another part of his childhood was learning how to dance. As it turns out their older sister, June, took dance class in High School and after school was out she would go home and practice with her little brothers. Both boys became quite well known as dancers, which was to their advantage when they entered High School.
Pliny Saeger Family circa1927
Although I obviously never knew Pliny, I feel like I know much about him due to his close relationship with his younger brother, John Saeger, my father. They seemed to be not just brothers who grew up together during the depression, but close friends as well. When my father spoke of Pliny he did so in such a way that made me miss never knowing him personally. Other elders I have met around West Seattle who knew him also spoke of him as a good man and a fun friend. And, the Saeger boys seemed to split the parents' genes physically. Where as Dad was a slightly shorter but broader build with rounder facial features like his mother, Pliny was slightly taller and leaner and took after his father greatly in his facial features. (see family photo circa 1927)
Pliny was a well liked man, and a much loved brother and son, and although he did marry, I cannot speak much on the subject as after his death neither Dad nor Grandma Saeger spoke about this part of his life with me. But I will say that the family was very proud of his service and his ranking as 2nd Lt. and pilot in the Army Air Force. His military photo and the gold star that was given to the family following his death were in the family room of the Saeger home as long as I can remember, even following the deaths of Grandma and Grandpa. After he retired Dad took the picture of Pliny to his home in Montana where it had its place in the front row.
John (L) and Pliny Saeger in California
Dad always missed his brother, Pliny, and made no bones about how devestated he was in losing him. The included picture of the two together in their military uniforms, (both were in the AAF, Pliny a pilot in the 39th B-29 unit and Dad a mechanic on P-38 Lightnings in the 375th FG, 339 SQ, eventually in the South Pacific.) may very well be the last photo taken of Pliny Saeger. As I recall, Dad was stationed in California and Pliny was on leave and came to visit when this and several other pictures were taken. While there are other pictures of them from this trip, I feel that this one shows the type of personality Pliny had; big smile, happy, and not ashamed to sling his arm through that of his proud, but perhaps slightly more reserved younger brother's. Pliny would have been 21 or barely 22 years old and Dad was only about 19. Just kids, and bound for different destinies as part of that great generation.
Dad passed away in 2006, but he made sure that I understood that his brother played an important role in his life, even after his death. It is my pleasure to pass on all that I can about Uncle Pliny to family, and friends and any others connected to his life.