Looking Back

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Hammy
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Looking Back

#1 Post by Hammy » Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:00 pm

It was probably 10 years gone by now. I was helping my Uncle on his farm, and we were at a small snack shack, taking a break. There were 3 or 4 other gentlemen my Uncle's age there, passing the time of day. I knew they were all WW2 vets, but I wasn't sure which branch they had served in. When a pause in the conversation happened, I asked "If you guys don't mind me asking, what did you do during the war?" They knew my Dad (Army, North Africa, Sicily, Italy) and my Uncle told them I was a Marine vet. Well, I wish I had had a tape recorder with me. The next half-hour was impressive. One had been in the Navy, on a cruiser in the Atlantic, and was at the D-Day invasion. The gent setting next to him said "I didn't know that. I was there, too, only I had been there since midnight." He was a cannon cocker in the 101st Airborne! He told stories about Bastogne, and said his most treasured souvenir was the small chute that was attached to an ammo bundle that was dropped to them around Christmas. He asked if I had ever heard of that, and I said yes. The other guy was Army, in the Pacific, served under MacArthur, "or as we called the son of a bi---, Dugout Doug." My Uncle was a Marine tanker on Okinawa. (If you see film footage from that battle, and you see a Marine tank with a either a 2 or a 3 in a circle, that was his tank. He couldn't remember exactly which one was his) The guy from the Pacific said his most treasured souvenir was his as-! The oddest thing about it all was, these guys had known each other since childhood, but they didn't know what each other had done or where they had been during the war, even though they all belonged to the local American Legion post. One said that when they got home, they just wanted to get on with their lives and put all that "nonsense" behind them. I know this is going to sound hokey, but I almost felt honored that they opened up like that to me, just a kid (at that time). All those gentlemen are gone now, but I have memories I won't forget.
U.S. Marine Corps 1975-1979
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retread12345678
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Re: Looking Back

#2 Post by retread12345678 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 5:03 pm

Those that were there just want the nightmares gone

bakka9
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Re: Looking Back

#3 Post by bakka9 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:33 pm

I would feel honored if I were you. My grandfather never spoke of his service to anyone, not even my grandmother. Every story he ever told either ended before leaving CONUS or started after returning; any experience he had during the war went with him to his grave. That's what he wanted I suppose.

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Re: Looking Back

#4 Post by ffuries » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:43 pm

As a military brat I had the honor of meeting Günther Rall, Erich Hartmann (I know the bad guys), several of the Doolittle Raiders, Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, USS Arizona survivor, several Pearl Harbor survivors, and just everyday ordinary WWII Veterans. All were quite humble with the exception of Boyington (I'll keep my opinion to myself on him).

My Opa, my mom's dad, was in the Dutch Cavalry at the onset of the German invasion of Holland, for some reason in 1943 he was shipped off to Czechoslovakia to an arms factory as slave labor, so I can only imagine it was the Waffenwerke Brunn factory and if so I can only wonder if he touched the DOT 44 I have.

Had 2 of my US grandfathers brothers serve in WWII one in the Navy in Europe then in the Pacific, the other was in the US Army in Intelligence in Europe, and their sisters husband was in the Army in Europe also. Neither of them would say much if anything of their service. The sisters husband, we were told to never ask him of his service. He came back a different person, and buried his service deep inside himself to forget what he had seen, done etc.

The sad part is my US family still had family living in Germany, that served in the German military during WWII. So my family served in the US military, Dutch military and German military during WWII.
Mike
TSgt, USAF Retired
Jan 86 - Sept 08
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jones0430
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Re: Looking Back

#5 Post by jones0430 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:23 pm

My father flew P-51s in the ETO. He did two tours with the 356th Squadron of the 354th Fighter Group. During the second tour he commanded the 356th Squadron. He claimed 15 kills, and officially is attributed with 12.

He wrote his memoirs and they were published in the book Big Friend, Little Friend: Memoirs of a World War II Fighter Pilot.

Part of his war souvenirs were an SA dress dagger, which was part of war booty sent to the squadron by Gen. Patton in appreciation of their support of the 3rd Army drive after D-Day.

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