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Vets I knew
Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:49 pm
Back in the late 1960's I worked part time with two army vets; one from WWII and one from the Korean War. They used to tell me stories.
The WWII vet was one of the airborne guys who jumped into France on D-Day. He and a couple of others landed in German territory. They hid in a patch of woods and lay on the ground for three days until the Germans moved on. He got so hungry that he ate a plug of chewing tobacco he had with him. It damaged his stomach and he was still having digestive trouble when I knew him.
The Korean vet was in a unit near the front lines. The army sent them an experimental vehicle: a complete machine shop on the back of a truck. Soon after it arrived it was hit squarely by an enemy artillery shell and smashed to scrap.
Later I worked with a guy who had been on Guadalcanal. He showed me a neat little circle on the back of his neck where a Jap sniper hit him the first day he was in combat.
Re: Vets I knew
Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:19 am
There was a Korean War vet I kind of knew when I was a kid. I had been told that when he was in high school he was a great basketball player. He went in the Army shortly after he graduated high school and ended up in Korea, I think in late 1950 or early '51. When he came back, he went to a basketball game but left in a hurry shortly after it started. He finally told his family that the squeaking of the tennis shoes on the gym floor reminded him of the sounds the Chinese shoes made on the rocks as they were attacking his company. He never went to another game.
Re: Vets I knew
Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:18 am
Having my barber shop next to the local VFW Post has given me many stories of Vets that I have known.
Before I retired I would start reading my copy of Cornelius Ryan's book, THE LONGEST DAY, the day after Memorial Day and usually have it finished by D-Day between customers at the barber shop. One day Lawrence (a forward artillery observer for Patton's Army) stopped for a chat and wondered what I was reading. I told him and then wondered when he went ashore, "+7" he said. He said the bravest man you will ever met used to work for him at the hardware store. Lawrence said, "next time Charlie comes in ask him what he was doing the night before the invasion."
The next time Charlie came in I said, "Lawrence says I should ask you what you were doing the night before the invasion?" It turns out Charlie Quandt and his buddies were put out on rubber rafts and paddled their way ashore under the cover of darkness and waited until the appointed hour and went about setting fires to light the landing zones on the beaches of Normandy to help our lads find their way to meet the enemy.
Charlie died in 1995, I am guessing he was in his mid 80's. Always interested in what was new in science & technology. In his younger days he helped keep the ducks from over-running their concealed position in the sloughs around our county during the hunting seasons. In old age, like most of us, he was a little rounder around the middle than we were in high school, moved a little slower, was hard of hearing, wore tri-focal lenses. He enjoyed good conversation, a good joke, good friends and long life with his wife.
Old Lawrence never steered me wrong, Charlie was the bravest man I ever met. R.I.P. old friend.
Re: Vets I knew
Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:33 pm
I've had several members of my family that I knew as a kid that served in WW2 as well. One great uncle was a paratrooper and a forward observer who parachuted in during the Battle of the Bulge. He got hit by flak shrapnel in the head but miraculously survived. He had to have a metal plate put in his head after he had surgery to remove the shrapnel. Another great uncle served along the Ledo Road in Burma as a mechanic for the construction crews building the road. He ended up with a Japanese type 94 nambu pistol and a meatball flag made of cotton as his war trophies but also succumbed to a horrible fungus rash on his feet that never truly healed. Another great uncle was stationed at the Marine Corps Depot in Philadelphia and was in charge of the supplies while also serving as a stateside driver for Chesty Puller when he would visit the depot. My grandfather served in the Coast Guard during WW2 and was there when the German spies that came ashore in Florida were captured. Another great uncle was in the navy stationed in the Aleutians and was in the Battle of Dutch Harbor. Though I never fully got to ask these men about their own experiences directly from them when they were still alive I do have my Dad who served with the 7th Marine Regiment during the Vietnam War to ask and relate to in a sense. For me it's a way to learn about history from a man who fought through many hard and dangerous battles and for him it's a way for him not only to get his stories off his chest for a bit but also a way for them to be preserved by his own son to tell to future generations.
Re: Vets I knew
Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:35 pm
When I was growing up, my best friend johnny Redmon lived down the road from me. One day my mom was cooking a pork roast and he said they never had pork. I asked why. He told me his dad had been a marine on Guadalcanal, and pork cooking reminded him of the smell of burning flesh. That was the first time I was aware of a veteran.
My dad wrote his memoirs while I was still in high school and I read the manuscript, and then the published book. At his funeral I met his squadron commander (James H. Howard) who had flown with Chenault in China, and received the MOH, while flying in Europe.
My father's comment on the event that led to Howard's recommendation for the MOH, "An attack by a single fighter on four or five times his own number wasn't uncommon, but a deliberate attack by a single fighter against thirty-plus enemy fighters without tactical advantage of height or surprise is rare almost to the point of extinction."
While serving at Ft. Polk, I met and became friends with a Master Sergeant who wore three bronze stars on his jump wings. He served with the 101st. He was interesting.
It was also at Ft. Polk that I met another man who had received the MOH for an action in Vietnam. It was there that I understood the difference between winning a medal and being awarded one. I have met three MOH recipients, and to a man, all believed they were awarded the medal, that they don't win it, that it was something others deserved more than they. It was a sobering realization for me, and it increased my deep respect for all recipients of that medal.
Re: Vets I knew
Posted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 4:53 pm
My grandfather went in to normandy +8 as a 2nd leiutenant. He went all across europe to germany where he finally left as a captain. He told me the hedgerows inland from normandy were a bear, and they lost alot of good men. He stayed in the reserves, and when Korea came around they had a shortage of captains and he got called up again. He left Korea a major, and told us it was the greatest waste of good young men he had ever seen. He stayed in the reserves and retired a Lt. colonel. He was a great man and a lover of our savior. My great uncle served in europe and I am not sure what unit. He did alot of search and destroy missions that really haunted him for the rest of his life. He was a great man, and I always liked him, full of the dickens. I have so much respect for our vetrans family or not. These people helped make our country what it is.
Re: Vets I knew
Posted: Sat Mar 28, 2020 4:02 pm
I had two uncles, my mom's brothers. Edwin Brown in the marines on Guadalcanal and Dewey Brown, my namesake, in the Navy in the Pacific. Ed told us about action one night in '42 when the Japanese tried to take BloodyRidge next to the airfield.He heard a jap rummaging around the brush and calling " Hey Joe " and he said " I reached and grabbed him, pulled into my foxhole, cut his throat and threw out. A while later the same happened again and he did the same, pulled him in his foxhole, cut his throat and threw him out, " after that they left me alone the rest of the night. "
Re: Vets I knew
Posted: Wed May 06, 2020 11:25 pm
I remember when I was in elementary school circa early 1990s we would always do something around Memorial or Veterans Day to celebrate veterans. Mainly have them come into the classroom and tell us stories about their time in service.
A lot of them were grandparents of other students, one was a member of my church who had served in the tail end of World War II, Korea, and retired following a tour in Vietnam with the Air Force.
The most humbling was when the school handy man Mr Bob came into the room and sat down. He was an church elder for the church my school was associated with. Nicest guy you ever meet. Would always smile and help us kids with whatever we needed.
Turns out Mr Bob served in the Army during World War II, took part in the Battle of the Bulge and then as part of the occupying forces in Germany.
Didn’t get an experience like that again till college when in a class specifically on World War II they did the same thing. Another Battle of the Bulge vet admitted he peed himself in an attempt to stay warm until he realized it was a bad idea when the pee froze. He got separated from his unit and dodged capture for a few days before finally being reunited
My time in the Army was as eventful as those gentleman but I’m thankful I got to hear their stories