Memorial Day 2021

A soldier’s things.

Some never made it home. Others did, but missing some vital part of themselves. Remember the fallen, the incomplete, and the fortunate who lost nothing more than youth and innocence.

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14 Responses to “Memorial Day 2021”

  1. khal spencer Says:

  2. Charley Says:

    Thanks, some of us had it easy. Four years active duty in the southwest (Tucson & Las Vegas). Plus training in a great career.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Some folks luck out. Some never make it back, or come back missing, as O’G said, some vital parts. Ever watch Best Years of our Lives?

      One of my uncles played dodge ball with German 88’s in France. I knew he was not in an infantry or armored unit so I never knew he took incoming till we got him drunk at my mom’s wake and he pulled out the scrapbook and started telling war stories. I guess his job was to rebuild the railroads so we could use them after we bombed them to keep the Germans from using them. Apparently they were close enough to the front to get shelled.

      The other uncle was an aide to Gen. Raymond Wheeler in SE Asia and India and his most dangerous moments were forgetting to salute the US and UK brass. He really lucked out. After the war, Wheeler was chief of the Army Corps of Engineers and got my uncle a job building the Mt. Morris Dam. Uncle Ralph always landed on his feet.

      Had two fathers-in-law; both experienced WW II up close and personal. My first father in law landed on Omaha on D+3 and his first job was cleaning up what was left of those who didn’t make it off the beach. He still would have flashbacks when I knew him; I triggered one and that’s how I learned his history. My second wife’s dad was at one time in the British Army and was trapped in the Philippines till we took them back from the Japanese. For the rest of his life, he would never look a canned meal in the eye.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve known (or at least spoken with) a lot of folks who did their bit; Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines. Every story is different.

      More than once I’ve wished I’d been more aggressive in grilling the old man about his service. He’d tell us some of the light shit, like the times he ferried celebrities around for USO shows, but he didn’t give us much about his day job. Mom told us a few tales, but like me she was a bullshitter, or so I suspect, anyway. Hey, I had to get it somewhere.

      I think he really liked the flying. I’ve looked over some of his flight records and he got to play with some pretty cool toys — mostly C-47s and C-54s, but also the occasional T-33 or B-47. He got to fly B-25s a lot after WWII, even a B-17 or two, out of Andrews, Muroc-Edwards, Bolling, and Albrook in the Canal Zone.

      Once his flying days were behind him, the Air Force was just a desk job, and where’s the fun in that? Shit, even I can fly a desk.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I had a college friend, Fred “Woody” Woodard, who was a Rochester P.D. motorcycle cop by day. He moonlighted as U of Rochester Security on the night shift. That’s how I met him as I was putting myself through school (and beer, and dope, and motorcycles) working part time as a campus night watchman.

        Fred always kept it light and funny about the war but he was in the 101st Airborne and slugged it out at Normandy and Bastogne, among other places, earning enough shrapnel in him to light up an airport metal detector. I asked him once about Malmedy and he got really quiet. Finally said words along the lines of “we didn’t take a prisoner for six weeks”. After that I knew better than to quiz Woody about the real side of war. For those guys who came back, war was not a weekly TV show on one of the three networks.

        You don’t send people into harm’s way without a damn good reason. We watched The Post last night. Enough in there to never want to trust a politician again.

      • SAO' Says:

        That “grilling the old man” part both breaks my heart and infuriates me. My dad seems to have been simultaneously overly proud and unnecessarily embarrassed by his family. Born in Micanopy, FL and spent a lifetime running from his accent.

        Told me his dad was an infantry Sergeant Major who fought with Patton. Turned out he was a Tech Sergeant, a medic, who landed at Normandy on June 6 ‘44. The truth is a much cooler story, if you ask me.

        But their relationship was a mess, and his early-onset Alzheimer’s was earlier than anyone thought. For the better part of the last 10 years, he had been watching the History Channel and then calling us up to regurgitate the story from a first person perspective.

        Now the history is mostly lost. Can’t find any of his Vietnam buddies. And he hid all of his aunts, uncles, and cousins from us. His crazy third wife dumped all of his personal property before skipping town, so the truth might be out there, but it ain’t coming in anytime soon.

  3. Pat O’Brien Says:

    The best thing we could do to honor those who gave all, is to never send one soldier to a worthless and never ending war. And, we should not re-elect the worthless, honor-less, scum that continue, to this day, to do it.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Well said. Plenty of nation-building to be done right here at home.

    • JD Says:

      I’d encourage all to read “Presidents of War” by Michael Beschloss. SPOILER ALERT; IT’S NOT A QUICK READ.
      It covers US Presidents from Washington thru Clinton. The themes in it, to me, are eternal: personalities, ego, no good choices, politics, resources, the economy, is it an election year, money, religion/democracy/socialism/communism, human rights, etc.
      Please read it and consider using that background to also inform your views and choices.

  4. Dale Says:

    Oh boy, “youth and innocence”. I missed the plane due to a high lottery number.

    I had already been through Fort Holabird for my initial physical and mental exam in late November. Then I began recieving calls from recruiters (I had a couple of years of college at that point), telling me that with a little work, I could be a Lieutenant.

    By that time it was late December, and I was waiting for the lottery to determine my fate. My birthdate came up at #275, so I was able to do drudge work on a high-rise in Ocean City for another 6 months. No one shot at me there, and I got my ass back to school.

  5. Pat O'Brien Says:

    A letter from my friends and neighbors, a frantic trip to the recruiter, 90 days to consider what I had done, the Chicago AFEES station, Ft. Leonard Wood, Ft. Monmouth, then put down your books, and pick up your gun, gonna have a whole lot of fun. Then Ft. Gordon, GA. Like Charlie, ended up getting a career from it. Now I have had 17 years to ponder that, during which I rode the hell out of my bikes and even got to ride with Patrick, Khal, Herb and Andy. Even got to meet herself, twice, a delightful experience. Patrick is right, we are lucky guys. But, tomorrow is my birthday, I ordered a new guitar to celebrate it, sold my Ovation guitar to my buddy and mentor, and I am going to the Copper Brothel Brewery today with my friends. I think I am right where I’m supposed to be.

  6. John A Levy Says:

    Two weeks before my Father passed in 1987 that I heard much about his war In the pacific. My dad was on a supply ship that made it from Newport News, VA to Australia on its shakedown cruise. Catching malaria in 1943 having Japanese try to climb up the cargo nets. Then spending 1944 going from Seattle to Kiska AK and getting an outbreak of Malaria every time the weather got very cold. Getting coffin Denver to find his Mother and my half-sister waiting for him with divorce papers in July 1945. I know there was more to his story but his COPD overtook his heart. I still miss him and Memorial Day is a big reminder of what I lost

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