Central New Yorkers know the meaning behind Memorial Day…honoring those who died in combat. But most families probably haven’t experienced that devastation firsthand. twice. Not like the Bolen family. First Lieutenant Edward J. Bolen was a student at Columbia University when he joined the Army Air Corps in February 1943. After training and being stationed in the U.S., he flew his first overseas mission in January 1944. His niece and family historian Mary Ellen Bolen Coon says he piloted a P-47 Thunderbolt, which served as a bomber and gunner.