Fundraising complete, next renewal is August 2022. Paypal Donation Links US dollars CDN Dollars

The Greatest Generation - Stories

Everything else!

Moderators: EvilHomer3k, Bakhtosh

Post Reply
Jeff V
Posts: 34942
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Nowhere you want to be.

The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Jeff V »

With their numbers dwindling by the day, this seems like a good time for us to recall stories those who served in WW2 have told us.

I have two of significance to tell.

One year, my now late friend Don (and former Octocon participant) wanted to do some charitable work for Thanksgiving and I agreed to go with him, delivering dinners for the charity Little Brothers of the Elderly. The first two (of three) people we visited did not have much to say, and we didn't linger longer than we were obligated to. The third, however, asked me to retrieve a box from atop a high shelf. In that box were aerial recon photos of bombing targets in France and Germany...she was a nurse, and some of the airmen she treated gave her these photos. It really made my day, the stories she told were fascinating.

The other was someone I knew well. His name was Marian. He was a regular customer at the restaurant I used to run in the early 80's. He was on a highly restrictive diet, that we honored for him. At the time, I was heavily into board wargames and mentioned I was researching the Battle of Leyte Gulf with the intent of creating a scenario for the board game Flattop. While I spent hours in at the university library researching this battle, it turns out my old customer was actually there! He was on a troop transport, entering the gulf under a thick shroud of fog. In the morning, the fog lifted, and he said there was ships as far as they eye could see...so close together it was as if you could walk from one end to the other without getting wet. Leyte Gulf, incidentally, was the largest naval battle in history in terms of number of ships involved. When the fog cleared, the kamikaze's came. He said he was on the deck of his troop transport, with binoculars, watching them. He could still recall seeing the eyes of the pilots as they forfeited their lives, dead on the stick aiming to crash their planes into a ship so they might make a difference. Clearly, the experience still haunted him 40 years later. It was series of miscommunications that ultimately thwarted the Japanese plan, which would have bagged our invasion force as well as numerous baby aircraft carriers supporting the operation.

Some 20 years after the last time I spoke with Marian, I was jogging past the MacArthur Memorial in Palo, Leyte, where MacArthur made good his promise to return and where Marian put ashore. I was staying in an apartment about 2 miles away. The memorial park was dedicated during the Clinton administration, and had commemorative plaques from leaders around the world. Last time I was there, it had fallen into disrepair. If it comes to pass that I live out my final years there (seems likely right now), I might use whatever means at my disposal to rehab that park.
Black Lives Matter
User avatar
Daehawk
Posts: 54661
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 1:11 am

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Daehawk »

I had an uncle the was a real card shark. He showed me many card tricks and I learned a few of them. He was in the Battle of the Bulge. The movie was one of my favorites as a kid. In the movie the German commander had a flag he flew on his Tiger tank..yes I know the tanks in the movie are all wrong. Anyways my uncle actually won that flag in a poker game sometime later and kept it his entire life. The real flag not the movie flag.
--------------------------------------------
I am Dyslexic of Borg, prepare to have your ass laminated.
I guess Ray Butts has ate his last pancake.
http://steamcommunity.com/id/daehawk
User avatar
YellowKing
Posts: 27987
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 2:02 pm

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by YellowKing »

My granddad (not blood-related, but I was as close to him as a real grandfather and called him granddaddy) served in WW2. When I got older I found this fascinating and would sometimes ask him about the war. He would rattle off his dogtag number, or tell me about the time he ate dinner with the Queen of England (she visited his company and dined with them). His favorite joke was that he once saved his entire company from certain death - when you asked him how, he'd reply, "I shot the cook."

But he never told me any *real* stories about the war. One Christmas I got him a pictorial history book on WW2. He opened the front cover, once, closed it, thanked me, and never picked it up again.

When he died and we were going through his things I found tons of medals he had earned during the war. Old reports and commendations - by all accounts he was a superb soldier, highly decorated. Why was he so tight-lipped about his service?

Then I found out he was an ambulance driver, and I realized the utter horrors he must have seen. Enough that he would never again speak of them, using silly jokes and an anecdote about the Queen as a replacement. It really made me sad thinking of that baggage he carried nearly 60 years. He never attended an event for veterans, he never regrouped with his former soldiers - in all those years he just kept the entire experience buried. A flag on his coffin and the playing of Taps was really the only recognition he ever got for his service in all those decades after the war. :(
Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ Ally
User avatar
Daehawk
Posts: 54661
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 1:11 am

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Daehawk »

I have my grandad's certificate thanking him for helping build the atomic bomb. Manhattan Division stuff. Not bad for a kid whose family was from the black forest area of Germany.

Heres a pic of it.

Enlarge Image

My father in law was in intelligence in WW2. He got to speak with the pilot of the Enola Gay after it dropped the bomb. My FiL even knew before the pilot did what he was carrying and what he would do that day. The pilot said something like he's never seen anything like it and hoped to never see it again.
Last edited by Daehawk on Wed Dec 08, 2021 12:25 am, edited 3 times in total.
--------------------------------------------
I am Dyslexic of Borg, prepare to have your ass laminated.
I guess Ray Butts has ate his last pancake.
http://steamcommunity.com/id/daehawk
User avatar
Jaymann
Posts: 14674
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2004 7:13 pm
Location: California

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Jaymann »

Daehawk wrote: Wed Dec 08, 2021 12:11 am I have my grandad's certificate thanking him for helping build the atomic bomb. Manhattan Division stuff. Not bad for a kid whose family was from the black forest area of Germany.
As a kid I asked my dad why he was never in the army. He vaguely mentioned involvement with the Manhattan Project. Hardly his area of expertise, but my guess is if you were a scientist in that era they grabbed you. He never talked about it.
Jaymann
]==(:::::::::::::>
Black Lives Matter
User avatar
LawBeefaroni
Forum Moderator
Posts: 52239
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2004 3:08 pm
Location: Urbs in Horto, outrageous taxes on everything

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by LawBeefaroni »

My father in law was a Partisan in occupied Europe. He was in his early teens so was mostly a runner. They have him an old WWI rifle and sent him out to deliver messages. His brother was shot and wounded by the SS but being fluent in German he was able to talk his way out of it enough that the German medic left him there to die rather than having him captured/killed. An officer walked up to him before the medic got there and asked, grinning, "How does the SS shoot?" Fortunately he survived. The FIL has a few letters that US pilots sent him after he war, thanking him for getting them out frim behind enemy lines. He has a ton of stories and wrote a book that includes his war experience.

My grandfather was US Navy and was on a carrier during WWII from what I understand but he passed when I was like 7 so I never got any detail.
" Hey OP, listen to my advice alright." -Tha General
"No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer." -Stigler's Law of Eponymy, discovered by Robert K. Merton

MYT
User avatar
Daehawk
Posts: 54661
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 1:11 am

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Daehawk »

My grandpa and grandma raised me but he died when I was 7 and never told me any stories that I recall.
--------------------------------------------
I am Dyslexic of Borg, prepare to have your ass laminated.
I guess Ray Butts has ate his last pancake.
http://steamcommunity.com/id/daehawk
User avatar
Scuzz
Posts: 10162
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 5:31 pm
Location: The Arm Pit of California

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Scuzz »

My father was a Seabee in the Pacific during WW2. He was on Guam and Saipan that I know about. While he never hid the fact he served during the war he also never talked about it. When I was in high school I used to wear his actual WW2Navy Peacoat in the winter.

But the one guy I had the most respect for was a guy who served him n the Vietnam War. I had played golf with him for years when I learned he had flown jets off an aircraft carrier. Having been on the US Hornet (a museum ship) zI can’t imagine flying on and off those type ships.
Black Lives Matter
User avatar
Daehawk
Posts: 54661
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2005 1:11 am

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Daehawk »

I cant understand vets not talking about their service but its still s shame that so many stories go untold and passed on.
--------------------------------------------
I am Dyslexic of Borg, prepare to have your ass laminated.
I guess Ray Butts has ate his last pancake.
http://steamcommunity.com/id/daehawk
User avatar
Kraken
Posts: 39402
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2004 11:59 pm
Location: The Hub of the Universe
Contact:

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Kraken »

My dad was a signalman on an oil tanker, which I used to think was lame until I realized that the tanker was the one with the target on it. He got a purple heart when his knee got wanged by a swinging boom, or something like that that tankers had. That knee bothered him the rest of his life. He never talked about the war except with other vets, and us kids weren't privy to those conversations.

Two of my uncles survived the attack on Pearl.
User avatar
Scuzz
Posts: 10162
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 5:31 pm
Location: The Arm Pit of California

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Scuzz »

Daehawk wrote: Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:33 am I cant understand vets not talking about their service but its still s shame that so many stories go untold and passed on.
My father never belonged to or did anything with any WW2 vet group as far as I knew, and I have no idea why. I don’t think either of my parents were big on Vietnam, but I have no idea if that was any of it. He had his conservative side, he was a Mason. But I be know they hated Nixon.

I knew several Vietnam vets who never talked about it.
Black Lives Matter
Madmarcus
Posts: 2950
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:18 am

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Madmarcus »

Interesting to see just how many people here had parents in WW2. Me father and FIL were too young although my FIL did get drafted for Korea although he was a math major and thus sent to Oak Ridge.
User avatar
DOS=HIGH
Posts: 620
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2005 8:06 am

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by DOS=HIGH »

I wish I could go back and talk to my relatives of that generation. Pretty much all of them died before I realized what they did during the war since they never really talked about it.

My mom's father joined the Navy prior to Pearl Harbor and surprisingly never saw combat. He was an aircraft mechanic and was finally posted to an aircraft carrier in '43, USS Antietam. It wasn't sent into a combat zone until August 45 and the war ended when they were halfway to Japan. He stayed in the Navy until the early 60's but was always land-based, including Guantanamo, after the war. My other grandfather was in the Army but worked in a chemistry lab, never leaving Philadelphia. My grandmother worked at the Frankford Arsenal in Philly during the war making munitions and eventually got a secretarial job with some Army engineer.

My dad had an uncle in the Merchant Marine who fortunately served without incident on a Liberty ship. My mom's uncle's were the ones who saw combat. Two were in the Army, one landed at D-Day, the other a few weeks later. The later earned a Bronze Star, not sure of the details. One worked in the grave's registration unit during the Battle of the Bulge. He got a camera off of a dead german and took some pictures with it. When he brought it back to the state's he couldn't find anyone to develop that type of film from the camera and just forgot about it. Years later a friend found someone to develop it. In one of the pictures he took a photo of his buddies next to a hay cart. And there was also a picture taken by the german soldier of his buddies taken in the same spot next to the same cart! How friggin nuts is that? Unfortunately, my uncle has no idea where the pictures are now, probably gone forever. My mom's other uncle was in the 82nd Airborne and participated in all four combat drops of the war; Sicily, Italy, D-Day, & Market Garden. My cousin went with him to Fort Bragg on a visit and said he was treated like a God. His brother was in the Army and landed in Normandy the first week of July. He was KIA in late September while fighting in Eastern France and is buried in the US Lorraine Cemetery.

Oddly enough I think my little old grandmother was as tough as any of them. Her family was homeless for a time during the depression. Her mother died when my grandmother was only thirteen and had to basically raise her two younger siblings since her father became a serious alcoholic. And then spent 20 years moving my mom and her three siblings around the country while my grandfather was in the Navy. This included driving from Pensacola, FL to Seattle, WA in the early 50's with one of my aunt's only an infant. A lot of people I know couldn't handle that drive today sans children.

RIP, you lived during an incredible period of history.
User avatar
dbt1949
Posts: 23559
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 12:34 am
Location: Hogeye Arkansas

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by dbt1949 »

I've never told my wife much about Vietnam. Her son got a little out of me. I don't even talk about it with fellow vets. The most I've ever talked about it was here. Somehow its easier to talk to semi strangers than to talk about it with family or friends.
Ye Olde Farte
Double Ought Forty
aka dbt1949
User avatar
LawBeefaroni
Forum Moderator
Posts: 52239
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2004 3:08 pm
Location: Urbs in Horto, outrageous taxes on everything

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by LawBeefaroni »

Scuzz wrote: Wed Dec 08, 2021 3:09 am
Daehawk wrote: Wed Dec 08, 2021 1:33 am I cant understand vets not talking about their service but its still s shame that so many stories go untold and passed on.
My father never belonged to or did anything with any WW2 vet group as far as I knew, and I have no idea why. I don’t think either of my parents were big on Vietnam, but I have no idea if that was any of it. He had his conservative side, he was a Mason. But I be know they hated Nixon.

I knew several Vietnam vets who never talked about it.
My dad was Army infantry between Korea and Vietnam. He was one of the older guys in basic training when the Korean conflict ended. He says he never plays the lottery because he already won it back then. He doesn't really bring it up much because it was all peacetime and all domestic and he hates if someone calls him a "vet" or thanks him for his service. He drove an M35 truck around the Midwest and his best story is when he got a tank column lost in rural Ohio and they stopped to have Dairy Queen, scaring the crap out of the small town they ended up in.
" Hey OP, listen to my advice alright." -Tha General
"No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer." -Stigler's Law of Eponymy, discovered by Robert K. Merton

MYT
User avatar
disarm
Posts: 4445
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:50 pm
Location: Hartford, CT
Contact:

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by disarm »


Daehawk wrote:I have my grandad's certificate thanking him for helping build the atomic bomb. Manhattan Division stuff. Not bad for a kid whose family was from the black forest area of Germany.

Heres a pic of it.

Enlarge Image

My father in law was in intelligence in WW2. He got to speak with the pilot of the Enola Gay after it dropped the bomb. My FiL even knew before the pilot did what he was carrying and what he would do that day. The pilot said something like he's never seen anything like it and hoped to never see it again.
That certificate is a really cool piece of history, although those who received them undoubtedly had mixed feelings about their work. If you didn't already know, Tennessee Eastman Chemical Company were responsible for managing the uranium enrichment reactors at Oak Ridge lab. They also produced massive quantities of RDX explosive, but that wouldn't have related to the Manhattan Project at all.

By coincidences of timing, I really haven't had any family that served in a war in significant ways. My grandparents were kids during WWII, so their parents weren't old enough to be part of WWI. My dad and a couple uncles reached draft age at the very end of Vietnam and weren't called to service. My dad knew his time was coming if the war didn't end, so he took matters into his own hands and voluntarily enlisted...gave him a slight bit of control over his course through the military. He joined the 101st airborne and learned to jump out of perfectly good planes, but was never deployed...war was over before he finished training. He then switched over to flight school for helicopters at Ft Rucker, AL...made a couple solo flights, then left the military because he married my mom and she got pregnant. My brother was born in the military hospital at Ft Campbell, KY right before he resigned.

I've only had one other uncle who enlisted in the Army Reserve in the late 80s/early 90s. He learned to fly helicopters and was invited to Apache school, but declined because he knew it would lead to combat deployment. After a few years of non-combat flight experience, he resigned and took his skills to the private sector where he's made a good career as a pilot.
*Gamertag - disarm78*
Now Playing - The Witcher 3
User avatar
EvilHomer3k
Forum Moderator
Posts: 7604
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2004 10:45 pm
Location: Cedar Rapids, IA

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by EvilHomer3k »

My uncle wrote this story for the Twin Cities Star Tribune. The link to the full story is below. Site is open and there aren't many ads. He also wrote a book on the Vietnam War which is available on Amazon.

Remembering the USS Pittsburgh

The USS Fitzgerald’s recent collision with the container ship ACX Crystal and the extraordinary seamanship of her crew to keep their ship afloat recalls another disaster at sea off the coast of Japan that unfolded 72 years ago this month.

In June 1945, Allied Forces were preparing for an invasion of the Japanese mainland to bring World War II to a close. Already the Japanese islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa had been secured by Allied forces. But the forces of nature would prove to be an even more formidable opponent than the Japanese. That month a typhoon struck the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet about 350 miles southeast of Okinawa. No ship had a greater battle against the typhoon than the heavy cruiser USS Pittsburgh (CA72).

My father, shipfitter third class Russell W. Barr, was aboard the ship when the typhoon struck. No doubt he and his shipmates faced the storm with apprehension. Just six months earlier a different typhoon had struck the fleet. In that storm, three destroyers (like the Fitzgerald) capsized and sank. More than 800 sailors were lost.

Through the night of June 4-5, the seas grew heavier and the winds intensified. At 0625 (6:25 a.m.) on June 5, Capt. John E. Gingrich ordered the ship to Condition Zebra — the highest level of preparation for danger. Gingrich kept Pittsburgh’s bow pointed into the waves. If a wave caught the ship broadside, she could capsize.

Think of a ship as a long series of rooms connected by steel doors (hatches) in the walls (bulkheads) that spanned the ribs (frames) of the ship. Condition Zebra called for each hatch to be sealed to help make the ship watertight. My father was in one of several three-man crews sent to the lower decks to close hatches beginning at the bow and working toward the stern. At frame 26, my father and another crew member had just stepped through the hatch when the ship began to crack on the bow side of the frame. They yanked the third man through the hatch, sealed it and continued their way toward the stern.

Behind them, 104 feet of ship — 15 percent of the Pittsburgh’s length — separated completely from the rest of ship and floated free. Had my father and his shipmates been seconds later, they would have been swept out to sea.

You can read the rest of the story here.
That sound of the spoon scraping over the can ribbing as you corral the last ravioli or two is the signal that a great treat is coming. It's the washboard solo in God's own
bluegrass band of comfort food. - LawBeefaroni
User avatar
Isgrimnur
Posts: 73027
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2006 12:29 am
Location: Chookity pok
Contact:

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Isgrimnur »

Image

Black Lives Matter

10% real fruit juice, motherfuckers!!
User avatar
LordMortis
Posts: 66250
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2004 11:26 pm

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by LordMortis »

dbt1949 wrote: Wed Dec 08, 2021 9:17 am I've never told my wife much about Vietnam. Her son got a little out of me. I don't even talk about it with fellow vets. The most I've ever talked about it was here. Somehow its easier to talk to semi strangers than to talk about it with family or friends.
This is my dad. For many years all he would say is "when we got back we couldn't wait to give all of our stuff to the hippies" He's opened up a little to is children in law, which in turn, opened him up a little to us but not too much. He worked very hard to make sure is children didn't serve. He failed. Two of his children joined. And a third one (me) tried but was medically unfit. He's tried to keep his grandchildren out and that hasn't worked either.
User avatar
Isgrimnur
Posts: 73027
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2006 12:29 am
Location: Chookity pok
Contact:

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Isgrimnur »

Her bow, nicknamed "McKeesport" (a suburb of Pittsburgh), was later salvaged by the tugboat USS Munsee and brought into Guam. The 104-foot section of bow broke off owing to poor plate welds at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Co. at the Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts. The typhoon damage also earned her the nickname "Longest Ship in the World" as thousands of miles separated the bow and stern.
Black Lives Matter

10% real fruit juice, motherfuckers!!
User avatar
TheMix
Posts: 9407
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 5:19 pm
Location: Broomfield, Colorado

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by TheMix »

Isgrimnur wrote: Wed Dec 08, 2021 12:43 pm
I felt like I was watching a Monty Python skit.... :doh:

Black Lives Matter

Isgrimnur - Facebook makes you hate your friends and family. LinkedIn makes you hate you co-workers. NextDoor makes you hate your neighbors.
User avatar
disarm
Posts: 4445
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:50 pm
Location: Hartford, CT
Contact:

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by disarm »

dbt1949 wrote:I've never told my wife much about Vietnam. Her son got a little out of me. I don't even talk about it with fellow vets. The most I've ever talked about it was here. Somehow its easier to talk to semi strangers than to talk about it with family or friends.
One of my now-retired coworkers was a Navy Seal in Vietnam. He never talked about it much, but did share bits and pieces that made it clear he did quite a few very unpleasant things during his time. He took no pride in the stories he told, saying only that he was often put in a situation of "kill or be killed," and his priority was always to make it back home. After the war, he became very devoutly religious, went back to school to eventually become an RN and nurse anesthetist, and gained enough weight that the military could never put him back in the field. He went from being a Seal to weighing close to 400# by the time I met him.

While I was a medical student in Indianapolis, one of my patients in the hospital was an 80-something man who served as a marine in WW2. One morning while making rounds, out of curiosity, I asked him where he served. He then proceeded to tell me about his experience as a young Marine standing on the beach at Iwo Jima, watching as a group of men raised the American flag on the top of a hill after a hard-fought victory that took away a lot of his friends.
*Gamertag - disarm78*
Now Playing - The Witcher 3
User avatar
Isgrimnur
Posts: 73027
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2006 12:29 am
Location: Chookity pok
Contact:

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Isgrimnur »

TheMix wrote: Wed Dec 08, 2021 2:28 pm I felt like I was watching a Monty Python skit.... :doh:
Clarke And Dawe
Black Lives Matter

10% real fruit juice, motherfuckers!!
User avatar
TheMix
Posts: 9407
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 5:19 pm
Location: Broomfield, Colorado

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by TheMix »

Ahhh. So I basically was. That's why it seem so surreal.

Black Lives Matter

Isgrimnur - Facebook makes you hate your friends and family. LinkedIn makes you hate you co-workers. NextDoor makes you hate your neighbors.
Jeff V
Posts: 34942
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Nowhere you want to be.

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Jeff V »

I can only guess that experiencing such horrors and then reintegrating into civilized society almost requires such memories be buried. When Marian told me his story, he was very careful choosing his words, it did not come easily.

This would be especially so for people who carried out orders they weren't morally comfortable with. Like the time dbt impregnated an entire village in Vietnam because his CO told him that was the only way to make sure the women wouldn't blow them all up. If he talked about it, he might have a shit ton of retroactive child support to pony up.
Black Lives Matter
dfs
Posts: 2129
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2004 11:48 am
Location: Top of the bass clef.

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by dfs »

My father in law got the mumps a couple of days before d-day and missed it. He came ashore on D+3 and fought his way west across France to the submarine pens and then east to Germany. On V-E day he had bartered for a bull that he was leading back to his unit when he heard the news. He did not kiss the bull.

Prior to WW II my f-i-l pretty much led Opie Taylor's life except in the Kentucky hollers instead of North Carolina and where Opie was at least an average student my f-i-l had what we would call dyslexia. While he was technically literate, reading anything took a great effort of will.
He signed up to fight over his father's objections and the army was in a way an education for him. He was failing as a marksman until his Appalachian pride made him convince his sarge that he should shoot the way he had always shot instead of following "army form." When he made that change he became a bit of a marksman and was made his company's BAR (Browning Automatic Riffle) man. Most BAR men lasted a few weeks because the BAR was a high value target putting out a lot of firepower. F-I+L lasted the whole war in the position. He lost several friends, was wounded, was lost to his unit and the army told his folks he was dead. Of course, that was a bit premature. He caught up with his unit eventually and learned to not make friends with new guys because then you didn't care quite so much when they were lost.

He came home a changed man. For the rest of his life he suffered from what we called PTSD. He had a sweetie before he left, but ....stay with me here....her brother had flat feet and could not fight and she was too ashamed of that to see F-I-L after he came back. Appalachian pride is a funny thing and hard to describe to outsiders. Spurned by his original sweetie he married my m-i-l in what can only be described as a very, very, very poor choice. These days she would be described as a sociopathic toxic narcissist.

Since this is about him and not her, I'll just skip over a few years. There was blood. Children were born. Some survived the household and got old enough to leave. Nothing F-I-L could do would make this woman happy. Eventually the left the agrarian life in the hills for a factory job in a northern city. While dyslexic, he had some talents as a machinist and could make things He became the union rep and management balked at him maxing out his pay grade. He was a cent per hour below max grade which worked out to a couple of bucks a month. He threatened to quit if they wouldn't give it to him. They toed the line and he (Appalachian pride) quit and set up shop as an independent machinist. It turned out the company didn't have another machinist who could execute what the engineers wanted so they had to subcontract prime production back to him and they paid through the nose for it. Money was not a problem in the household.

On the other hand the sociopathic toxic narcissist was a problem. After 29 years he eventually divorced her (The stories I could tell, but this is about him) He spent some time in biker culture although he never actually joined a gang. Through the grapevine he hooked back up with his pre-war sweetie whose brother had flat feet. This second marriage lasted 30 years. They were delightful together.

During the 30's In the hollers of Kentucky nothing was more powerful than a church leader and in his old age that's what he became. His church was a schism from a schism from an obscure sect, but those around him loved him and in his defense his years with the army and the union and the bikers left him with some positions that we would consider decidedly liberal. \

He lasted long enough to see his great grandson. He received his granddaughter's ceremonial first salute. In his 90's he was driving when he had a stroke that fractured his vision. He never really lost the PTSD in the hospital he attacked his orderly who as a (much younger) former paratrooper know the routine and blocked everything F-I-L threw at him. A few years after the stroke he broke a hip and was gone.
Jeff V
Posts: 34942
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Nowhere you want to be.

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Jeff V »

Quite a story, dfs, thanks for sharing.
Black Lives Matter
User avatar
Hipolito
Posts: 1866
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 2:00 pm
Location: Chicago, Illinois

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Hipolito »

One of my best friend's grandfather was a Holocaust survivor. Though his immediate family escaped capture and detention, he, his relatives, and his friends did not, and only he survived. When he was liberated, the American soldiers were gentle and kind to him, but the Russian ones were bullies. After WWII, he faced the prospect of being trapped in the Soviet Union for the rest of his life, but he defected after several escape attempts. He and his wife emigrated to USA when she was pregnant with my friend's dad. He lived to the age of 90, and was a great person, full of joy and curiosity about the world. He had a scientific background and a large library he was proud of. He loved the operas of Wagner. Despite all the horrors that anti-Semites have committed, he couldn't find it in his heart to hate them back.
Gracias por estar aquí.
Avatar: my Shepard from Mass Effect 1.
Jeff V
Posts: 34942
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Nowhere you want to be.

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Jeff V »

I'm surprised that he had such love for Wagner, who was an infamous anti-semite and had he lived in Hitler's time likely would have been his cabana boy. Having not lived through the ordeal he did, I'm more inclined to tolerate the artist Richard Wagner while rejecting his ideology (which, by and large, was not reflected in his music). I've seen the Ring cycle, Der Meistersinger, Lohengrin, and Parsifal -- all brilliant operas. But I saw most of those before knowing about his prejudices.

This is not a new paradox, though. Many famous Jewish artists and conductors have been taken to task for performing Wagner and shrugged it off.
Black Lives Matter
User avatar
Holman
Posts: 26407
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2004 8:00 pm
Location: Between the Schuylkill and the Wissahickon

Re: The Greatest Generation - Stories

Post by Holman »

My Dad's father was drafted in 1942 and was very conflicted about it. He was a devout Christian, and (although this is almost impossible to understand today) up until WW2 many Southern evangelical leaders preached that war and even politics should be avoided by true Christians. A significant number of evangelical preachers--the direct religious forbears of today's Christian Right--had been jailed for recommending draft resistance in the First World War. Some of these preached that even voting was inappropriate.

All of this changed with Pearl Harbor, but it took a while to trickle down. An option was available to serve in uniform as a non-combatant (as distinct from a conscientious objector), and my grandfather took it. He was trained as a medical orderly and served in Corps-level hospitals behind the front lines. By war's end he had seen Tunisia, France, Belgium, and Germany.

His unit was stationed in Nuremberg at the time of the war-crime trials (hence my sig), and soldiers could get tickets to be in the gallery. He saw quite a bit of the trials and verdicts.

--

My wife's uncle was just old enough to join the Army in 1941, and he became a mechanic in the Army Air Corps (before it was the Air Force). He was lead mechanic on one of the bombers of the Doolittle Raid. This didn't mean being part of the flight crew, but he was proud that "his" plane made it to China and the crew survived.

He hated war. After WW2 he became a peace activist and was involved in all kinds of protest activity around the world. He lived into his 90s.
Much prefer my Nazis Nuremberged.
Post Reply