Happy Memorial Day to All !
Please share your stories.
Hubs and I would like to share the story of his father, my father-in-law. He was shot down over Italy during WW2. He was the navigator, and most of the crew was killed. He survived, but was captured very soon after he hit ground. He told us that a German soldier put his rifle into his stomach, and he pushed it away, looking the other man in the eye. His reason was that if he was going to be shot in the gut, he wanted to look into the eyes of the man who did it. The German looked away.
This alone could have gotten him killed. They marched the prisoners. An old Italian woman gave him an egg. He thanked her. It was the best tasting egg he ever had.
After a long time, and a lot of between trains, he arrived at a POW camp near Rostock. He was interned there for 18 months, during the coldest winter on record that century. They ate rutabagas. They played cards. Red Cross packages were rare and treasured. He told us the deck of cards they used was swollen to 3 inches high by the end of the war. There would be 6 guys playing, and all the others standing around. Moisture and use took their toll.
Near the end of the war, he escaped. He and a buddy bolted, and weren't shot. They made their way over the countryside, and he never would tell us what he saw there. We asked, but he said nothing about that, only that the Germans took as good as they gave. He and his buddy came upon some Russians. They took some offered cigs, and one of the Russians practiced his English. Then, they went on, and finally made it to the American lines.
I loved him with all my heart. He's been gone these 5 years now.
Happy Memorial Day to all who protect our country, and our way of life.
Please share your memorials.
War is a nasty, dirty business that most like to remember only in the one-day-a-year recognition of the fallen. We weep if we have any sensitivity. We look back to our heroic fathers, these courageous, stoic men and bless them, then go about our daily business incarcerating, demeaning, dismissing their sons.
I weep on days like this, not just for the brave, the bold, the ones who endured, but for the society that takes their toil and sacrifice for granted and dismembers the freedoms they fought so hard for.
Lest we forget. We do so easily. But...
SAY not the struggle naught availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke conceal'd,
Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the Main.
And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward, look, the land is bright!
I have a great uncle that was in the Navy in WWII. After Japan surrendered, he was on a boat coming home to the US when a Japanese sub sunk his ship.
There was about 300 people in the water when sharks started grabbing people. I can't remember how long he said they were floating in the water for, but when rescuers eventually got there, there was only 30 men left. He said at one point he felt something slide up against him and a guy near him disappeared into the water. He had buddies that disapeared in the water as well.
My Dad got this story from him, but he said normally his uncle would just get up and walk away if anyone tried to talk to him about the war.
We look back to our heroic fathers, these courageous, stoic men and bless them, then go about our daily business incarcerating, demeaning, dismissing their sons.
Excuse me, SP, but I don't know to whom you are referring. Those of us who revere our fallen men don't then proceed to incarcerate, demean or dismiss our sons. Or our fathers, husbands, brothers, or, in my case, my beloved father in law.
Obviously, I shouldn't have posted this. We meant well.
Heaven forbid that I was refering to you. Your post is timely and apposite and to be applauded, Christiane. Not everything is a personal criticism of you, you know.
To make myself clear. Around the countries that recognise a 'Day' for rememberance, we have trails of politicians taking the lime light with wreath- laying who then go back to their debating chambers the next day and undoo all the good our fathers ( and those who survived war - like me) did.
I aplogise for using the inclusive 'we', meaning society. You have a good heart. Please spare some goodwill to me as well.
and those who survived war - like me
I know you did - and Thank You - and I know you're UK. Thank You.
Sorry if I seemed defensive.
To be more clear, SP: Thank You for always standing by us. For all the sacrifices you've made to support the free world, and for watching our back. The British military is awesome and I don't know what we would have done without your support, not only during the Iraq war, but during the last century, both militarily and politically. I mean that with all my heart.
We appreciate you. I appreciate you. And I mean that on a personal level, SP, this Memorial Day. Thank you !
My grand-uncle, a Sergeant tank driver in WW1, was gassed. he gasped out the few remaining years of his life at the family store/farm.
My grandfather was never right after coming home from WW1. I am waiting to get his full military records to find out what happened and why.
My father, while on HMCS Boneventure (aircraft carrier), came down with nephritis. He was in bad shape by the time they could get him ashore to hospital. They removed the bad kidney, but he was left with fairly bad damage to his legs because of the time it took.
My son is on HMCS Regina (frigate) and due to go to the Persian gulf sometime in the fall.
I would like to pay homage, not to an individual but to the few. There was a point in the early stage of WW2 when Britain stood entirely alone. Imagine that in hindsight. Totally alone. We had been soundly whipped in France: decimated forces had retreated against the huge might of the German forces and barely escaped at Dunkirk. Many didn't. All of Europe was a captured continent. Nazi. The Americans dithered with much the same concerns as today - should we get involved in someone else's battles. The Commonwealth countries were just bickering too. The enemy was just 20 miles away over a narrow Channel. They were resolute.
Boys of 17, 18, 19 were given 9 hours start to finish training on our fighter aircraft, the glorious Spitfire and the solid workhorse Hurricane. 9 effing hours because they were desperately needed on operational squadrons. These boys could get their machines up in the air and often didn't get back from their first sortie. Combat was learned on-the-job. Swords were thrust into the hands of farm-boys and they were pointed in the direction of a wall of airbourne warriors.
American boys with spirit didn't wait for their Government to make a decision ( it was over a year later that the USA joined in) they came over and queued to join the English boys to get into the RAF. Canadians came. Escaped Poles came. South Africans came. Australians and New Zealanders came. Individuals. Bugger the dithering and bickering they all said. Boys, men, of tremendous courage and nous came because they could see the need. They could see the vision of a different world and were willing to give their lives to prevent that vision being a reality.
A small rat-bag force of the brave faced the huge might of the German Luftwaffe and while bombs fell on London these boys fought every hour in the skies over southern England. The battle raged for weeks and it was a battle of attrition. We won. These boys prevailed. At the end there were barely anyone of them left. It was more by misjudgement on the German's part that they gave up. But so many of these beautiful boys died in our skies.
Had Britain fallen that August, we would not be speaking English. I, still a twinkle in my dad's eye, would not have been here. The world would be a very, very different place. Never before have so many owed so much to so few.
My family has been relatively fortunate.
My father was drafted during the Korean war, but never saw battle.
One of my older brothers joined the Army in the late '70s. He has been 100% disabled for the past 28 years.
I joined the Army as a young man. My service fell between Panama and the Persian Gulf I. However, I have 3 feet of scars from a training accident.
My great uncle - my grandfather's brother - was killed in the days winding down WW2; it was all over but the screaming, killed in an ambushby some German holdouts while on a routine patrol.
Many years ago we were out in my family's stomping grounds in NY , and on the anniversary of his brother's death, my grandfather wanted to go to his grave. Soo, off we go.
And we find there an older Jweish woman and her son and two daughters laying flowers there themselves; because the unit my great uncle led was the one that liberated the concentration camp she was in.
God hold the souls of our fallen in his hand; they must surely be in heaven for they have already done their time in hell.
My father was a pilot in the Pacific theater during WWII. He trained in Mississippi and San Antonio and then shipped out to New Caledonia from San Francisco. He flew mostly bombers but once in a while fighters. His squadron started in New Caledonia and followed the Japanese navy as they retreated up the Solomon Islands, New Guinea and the Phillipines. When he was in the Phillipines he used to fly missions into Japanese-controlled China, mostly in the region of Hainan. He was still in the South Pacific when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; that probably saved his life and a lot of other GI's as well.
During his 4 years in the Army Air Corps (the Air Force wasn't created yet) he was shot down twice. The first time he was imprisoned by the Japanese and with another POW managed to escape. He had to hide in the jungle, where there we some Buddist temples; he and his pal traveled by night and crawled into the little cubby holes during the day, which he shared with snakes, centipedes, etc. To this day he has a great fondness for Buddists, but he can't stand to even look at snakes. He finally found his way back to American lines and went back to flying. The second time he was shot down he had to ditch in the ocean but got a Mayday off before crashing and only had to spend about a day in the water before the Navy picked him and the survivors of his crew up. Of 24 flyers he trained with, 2 came back - my father and another guy who he didn't know very well. He had recurrent malaria for 20 - 30 years until the doctors finally figured out how to get rid of it for good. Same thing with Athlete's foot.
This is about all I know of his service. He won't talk about much, especially the bad parts; he has never told anyone - I think even my mom - about his time in the Japanese POW camp.
I didn't have to serve in Vietnam because I missed the draft by weeks. However, I have profound respect for all who serve our great nation. As another said, hundreds of thousands of men (and a few women) have died so that we can enjoy our freedom here at home. We owe them our lives.
And to those like Steven who sweat it out in the middle east: Thank you so much. Be safe, watch out for each other and come home soon. We'll keep the lights on for you, and I'll have a cold beer or soft drink in the 'fridge for you when you get back. I'll serve it to you along with the steak I'll be feeding you if you care to stop by.
I go visit my father at the Vets home in Yountville California 1 or 2 times a month. We usually bust him out for the day or the weekend or what ever his health will allow these days.
He served in the Pacific during the war. Actually he was already in when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Some how he finagled a commission, but alas it was on a munitions transport. Of the 9 original munitions transports sent into the Pacific during WWII his was the only one to make it out.
He regrets retaking New Zealand the most, the troops were so green and enthusiastic, they had no idea what was coming. They had just off loaded to several Destroyers in the bay of Leyte when the Japanese counter attack cleared the mountain. Said the Japanese Zeros were so thick it looked like a swarm of flies. In Guam the CBs found out the hard way about Pythons as one dropped out of tree onto a dozer operator. By the time they cut the head off the snake the man was already dead. It bent the control laterals of the dozer to the shape of the man's body.
Some 600 veterans are huddled up together for their last stand in Yountville California on a 1000 acer parcel of land originally purchased by a band of brothers from the Civil War seeking refuge in their retirement years. Now surrounded by some of the most famous names in Napa Valley Wine making and next door to the most expensive restaurants in the United States they are fighting off legal challenges brought by the State of California at the behest of wealthy corporate wineries.
Collectively they have survived Iwo Jima, Omaha Beach, Midway Island, the Battle of the Bulge, Pork Chop hill in Korea, and the Teht Offensive of Vietnam.
Only to be threatened now by a bunch of wine toting, pinky in the air, kiesh eating money hungry greedy bastereds with enough money to gain access to Arnold Schwarzenegger's office.
Fuck you Arnold - you girly man
I served mostly in Clinton's Army, in Europe during the height of the Kosovo crisis, and during 9/11. I'm not going to pretend like I know the exact details of my distant relatives military service and campaigns (like many are fond of doing). After leaving, I tried to enlist in the Royal Canadian Army from a depot in Montreal, but they said I needed to be a landed immigrant for 5 years. I wanted to continue to be a soldier, but I could no longer support a country that allowed feminism to flourish in its mainstream(so I guess its a good thing that the Canadian deal didn't work out). If they had a separatist Army for Quebec I'd join that in a second. Quebec needs to secede from the staggering mediocrity, banality, and political correctness of TROC.
Je Me Souviens!!!!