Without guts, character, and an other-worldly ability to focus, you do not win the Distinguished Flying Cross by taking control of the lead bomber in bad weather and having to improvise a new approach to the target while sighting the run as a maelstrom of flak tears holes in your airplane and kills the left two engines and shouts explode from every intercom station. So, once again, Walt Neppl came through, doing what was expected of him. All over the East and Southeast, he got new stores up and running and he got bad stores turned around.
"The biggest thing with new stores was new people, and with the big push there just weren't enough experienced people to plug into new stores. Sometimes I'd get a store opened right and nothing would happen. The reason was that the manager didn't emphasize organization and training, didn't get good people going, and that's deadly . So I'd have to go back in and fix it.
"I was all over the place opening stores. I cut across district linesToledo; Dayton; Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia; Frederick, Maryland; Washington; Newport News; Richmond; New England; all over there. Opening stores and working with trouble spots like downtown Norfolk and New Haven, which were duds. I didn't open them, but they were problems.
"At first, the situations weren't too friendly, either. The word in the districts and the big stores was, ˜Oh, I see, they're sending in the kid from out West. But I worked with the people on the floor and got their respect, and we held good and exciting meetings. So that changed."