Monday, May 26, 2014

Honor and Duty

He died young at 55.

My kids never knew him.

I think of him often, especially today.


Four Brothers, all from Illinois, went to war overseas. Honor and Duty.

Dad didn't talk or tell war stories, so much of this is fragmented reconstruction.

Dad the youngest, he left high school to enlist. He lied about his age to join at seventeen. He saw the end of the war in Europe.

John, the oldest brother and my namesake,  came back damaged by shell shock - PTSD. I can only imagine the horrors he dealt with, mission after mission in the thick of it. He made it back but disappeared, Rumored to have committed suicide. He was never found, leaving a wife and son without a dad.

Delmar, the second son,  joined early in the war and was an Army ranger, a paratrooper. He parachuted out of silent gliders, special ops behind enemy lines, and was killed on one of his missions.
Walt and Dad, made it back. Steel in their hearts, fearless and cocky. Both self-medicating with alcohol their entire lives. Both raised families, Walt in Illinois, Dad in Wisconsin. Dad met mom in Peru,IL while she visited her half sisters in Illinois, Doris and Beulah. They lived in Peru and La Salle. Both married to other vets. Doris and Leo, Beulah and Lou. Dad had two sisters Millie and Dee, they also lived in Illinois. All had kids and families.

Because he was youngest, Dad saw the end of the war. He was a tail gunner on a mobile unit jeep and I can only imagine the destruction he witnessed, sitting on top that jeep, a target as they crossed all those borders. He got some medals and was wounded by his own bullet. When ordered to disable some German vehicles, shooting out tires and generally messing them up, a bullet ricocheted and hit him in the leg. He got a purple heart for the wound.

He brought back war memorabilia. A nazi flag, some German medals, spent shells, and a whole lot of hard ass.

I recall reading an article where his unit transported recently freed Jewish prisoners from an Austrian concentration camp. The living dead. Guessing that was not a fun job.


IMO, we grew up, protected from the outside, but with a whole lot of latent fear on the inside. 

Scar tissue. Living with that fear, makes us strong.

He rolled with the Tanks, miss you Dad.

1 comment:

David said...

Thank you for sharing your heart felt story about your dad. Although I may not be able to tell him, a big thanks to him for helping to protect our freedom!