Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day

I'm going to re-pot my giant peace lily today. Bought a brand spankin' new pot this weekend. I still wish I didn't have it though. It was a bereavement gift from my office from when Granddad passed away.

Granddad wasn't going to join the army, but when WWII started felt it was his duty. He signed up over his mother's objections so that he could be a man. Granddad fought under General Patton. He traveled in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and finally France. When the doctor asked him what he'd done in the military, Granddad's answer was that he walked. He was infantry, so I am sure that was pretty accurate. Here is a letter written May 24th, 1945 to his parents while he was in Neumark, Germany.
“Dear Parents;

We have been having April Showers the last few days. They just lifted censorship today, so will try and tell you a little about what I have been doing the past few weeks.

I joined the company west of the Rhine River a little bit around the 25th of March and we saw the other outfits getting ready to cross and we were ready. We didn’t know when we were going to cross but we knew it was going to be soon and one night we heard all hell break loose and it was another outfit crossing. Then we began to feel better right quick because we knew we weren’t going to have to make the river crossing. Then in a day or two they put us on the alert and the trucks came that night and we crossed the river and bridge that the engineers had built and rode all that night and until about noon the next day. Hen we started walking and we walked until late that night and settled down in foxholes for about two hours, but that was our only night in a foxhole.

The next day we were starting through a town which had out several white flags and hell broke loose. I was in the rear. I stayed there. Company headquarters always stayed back. Then when we finally got into the town I saw a lot of good Germans on the ground. We kept walking for several days, then one evening we started across an open field in order to come into a town on the backside by the woods and hell broke loose again and we had left one platoon back to guard another town. Several men were gone for several reasons. At least we had only 59 men at the time and there wasn’t supposed to be many Germans in the town, but we took 145 prisoners and there were a lot of good ones there and the medics were busy all night taking care of the wounded Germans. The whole company went in together because we had to have all the men we could get. In just a few days we got the tanks with us and after that we did pretty good for a day or two. Then, the airplanes started one day. We were arguing whether they were theirs or ours. They were up in the air quite a ways and we couldn’t tell for sure, and in a minute we found out they were strafing, bombing, too. But every truck had a machine gun on it that got rid of them in just a little bit. Then they came along every evening for about a week, but we had the A.A. (Army Air Force) with us by then and they did not bother us much that way.

I have had a lot of other experiences too, but will tell them when I get home, which I hope isn’t far off, I don’t know.

Right now I am just a short ways from Leipzig in a small town named Neumark. We have two prison camps now and are discharging them right and left.

Well, I have told about enough for once, so had better close for now.

Love, Gerald

Gerald had been selected as assistant orderly by his captain.

Copied from THE GRENOLA GAZETTE Thursday, June 21, 1945 #25


Once the war was over, he went on to be a guard for a POW camp in Paris. He treated the POWs as equals. He knew they had been drafted into the war and were just doing their jobs. They loved him too. I've mentioned before about them making him gifts and rebuilding his tent. He used to say that he probably had the warmest tent in all of Paris that winter. In all the years I knew him, he never had a single negative thing to say about the German troops. Mostly he just said that they were good people.

That's just who Granddad was. Shortly after the Berlin wall came down and it was announced that the Cold War was over, we all went to an air show. It was a huge event because for the first time, there were Russian planes and pilots at the show. Everyone was nervous about meeting them....well that's not entirely accurate. Everyone except Granddad. He walked right up and shook his hand. Treated him like an old friend that had been away for too long.

This Veteran's Day, I remember Granddad and those like him. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be sitting in this office, my desk covered in pizza. I wouldn't be able to write a blog about whatever I wanted. I wouldn't have the opportunity to gripe about the idiots in and running for public office.

And let us not forget those veterans who have not yet claimed their final reward. There are guys like my dad. He was in the air force during Vietnam. He worked in Thailand as a fuel systems specialist. And there are many young men and women putting their lives on the line for us right now. They don't have the luxury to sit at their computers and peruse the blogosphere. They are far too busy making sure that we can.

While you are reading, here are a couple of lovely Veteran's Day entries made by some blogging friends of mine that I have run across today and think deserve your attention.
Happy Veteran's Day by Instinct at Life in 3D
All Gave Some at Casto Creations
And of course, Michael Yon always deserves a read. The Old New Way tells you what our modern day veterans are doing every day. Today is no exception.

2 comments:

Instinct said...

A peaceful veterans day to you as well Jennifer :)

CastoCreations said...

That just rocks! I love reading real live history from those who were there. God Bless your grandpa!