Skip to comments.A Real Hero
Posted on 02/25/2008 3:52:04 AM PST by 60Gunner
He was sick, sick, sick.
I inherited him at the change of shift. He was completely with it, but his body was failing him fast.
The offgoing nurse offhandedly reported that the patient was a bomber pilot because his wife of nearly sixty years had mentioned it. (Sixty years! Can you imagine being married that long?)
This man was the only person I had at the beginning of my shift. I signed off on the report and, after reviewing the chart, went into the room to introduce myself as the oncoming nurse.
The patient was asleep, so I spoke with his wife. She informed me that the man was a B-24 "Liberator" pilot. I informed her that I was an amateur World War 2 aviation historian, and she brightened visibly.
"Are you familiar with the B-24 forces that flew out of North Africa in 1943?"
I answered excitedly, "Are you telling me that your husband served in that theater?"
"Yes, I am. He was there."
Something in our conversation awakened the patient, who asked his wife who was there.
"It's your nurse. Do you know that he knows what you did?"
The man raised himself up from the stretcher. "What makes you say that?"
I approached him and said one word: "Ploesti."
My patient looked me straight in the eye for a moment, and then he began to cry.
"Oh, sir!" I said. "I am sorry that I have said something to hurt you!"
"It's not you," he said. "I lost so many friends that day..." he said, his voice trailing away.
"Sir, you are one of my heroes. I have read so much about your friends, and of you. I can't tell you how honored I am to serve you."
The patient looked at me as if I was joking.
"I mean it. I've read abut the Ploesti run."
"What do you know?" He asked.
So I shared all that I had read about the B-24 raid on the German oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, over the years. He filled in the gaps. He was my only patient for more than an hour. And what an hour! The stories he told- I must have seemed like a child at his feet, listening wide-eyed to his accounts of the hardships and terror he and his friends encountered during one of the most horrific parts of the war.
I was finally told by the charge nurse that I had another patient coming in- a young man who got drunk and hit his head, and who was belligerent and combative. I stood up from the bedside and excused myself. The patient took my hand and thanked me.
"How can you thank me after all you have done for me?"
He took my hand in his big paw, and answered simply, "You remember."
Meeting a REAL hero ping!
Thanks for posting, 60Gunner. What happened to this gentleman?
Blurry very blurry.Thanks for posting gunner.
I just finished reading a book called, “Bomber Pilot” by Philip Ardery, where he gives a first-hand description of that raid and others from North Africa and also raids over Germany from England. Very good book.
My dad was a side gunner flying first out of Tunisia then Italy. Not on the Ploesti raid though.
Can you add me to your ping list? Sniffle, Thanks, Sniffle
My 19 yo daughter is starting school soon to be an ER nurse. It makes me proud.
That's all we ever want.
Thanks for posting. From the sounds of your history, you probably have lots of stories from your own experiences and those told to you by hero patients. God Bless You in all you do and please write more.
Thanks for the ping Sarge. *Sniff*
A few years ago, I was asked to drive a busload of about 30 VFW members to the start of a parade. As they got off the bus dressed in old uniforms and VFW hats holding shiny M1’s, they all thanked me for driving them 3 miles in a stupid bus. I told them that I couldn’t accept their thanks cause I owe them far more.
Would you add me to your ping list please?
Yes, the REAL heros are those that have served in combat and those that still do.
And almost invariably, they will not talk about it in a boasting or bragging manner. If you ask they will tell you what it was like for them but they don't volunteer the information because many times it does bring back memories they would rather not remember all the time.
Ping to a great patriotic post by a master story teller.
If you haven’t had the privilege yet of reading 60gunner’s ER stories, you’re in for a treat.
Blurry indeed. Oh what a loss we are experiencing as these gentlemen depart us to return to our Savior, family and friends.
God Bless them.
God bless you for serving a hero. We need them now more than ever.
Another great story! Thanks! My kids tease me because I have so many old friends, but I love to listen to them and their stories.
Have you thought any more about doing your book? You really should. You’re in a position to capture these stories and memories, and you obviously have a great rapport with your patients.
I get teased alot about my overwhelming curiosity—if I was a cat I’d have long been dead! How else can you find out anything?! I hear the neatest stories because I am curious, and I enjoy listening to people.
Will you add me to your ping list, please? Thanks!
A great article for a great American, one of many. Thanks!
I enjoyed your story. People like you are also heroes for serving other people in such a caring way.
Many of my patients (VA Hospital) are WWII Vets. I find common traits among them. Those that endured some of the most horrific battles and also performed acts of great courage and honor are the most humble and gracious men you meet in the hospital. Although they may not personally know the Vet sitting next to them in a waiting room they treat each other like brothers. They do no brag about what they did and will commonly act like it was nothing.
One of my patients was a Bataan Death March survivor. I asked permission from him to ask him questions about the march and imprisonment. He graciously gave me permission. I asked him what was the difference in those that survived and those that did not. His answer was, “when you gave up you died.” I also asked him what keep him going. He said that, “that each day he lived was the only way he had of defying the Japanese.” One of his meds was changed and he went to the pharmacy to get it filled. I closed the door to the clinic and shut it down and went to the pharmacy and filled it myself and brought it to him. I said to him that he should not have to wait for anything as he has waited long enough. He graciously thanked me and shook my hand.
I am humbled by these old men. They were and are giants among men. We owe our freedom to these great men and we owe them our respect and help. They saved us.
I assume the hero died, since there's no mention of him receiving treatment, though "his body was filing him fast". Too bad his reminiscing with you was cut short by an idiot with a self-inflicted medical emergency.
I don't like the priorities of our medical care system. Young irresponsible kids are "partying" and/or gangbanging their lives away, emboldened by well-placed confidence that if their dangerous and worthless activities veer off in a life-threatening direction, trained professionals will drop everything -- including elderly dying heroes -- to save them. In the long run, I think this ends up promoting a culture which kills a lot more of these young people than it saves.
Beautiful post. Thank you.
“When you gave up you died.” Words to live by.
Thanks, n&v, for including my friends in your story catch-up list. “;^)
You’re quite welcome.
Apparently, a book is in the works, too!!!
Thank you so much. I will send her a link to this thread.
Anybody who survived Ploesti AND the rest of WWII had angels flying wing...
Looks like “the golden hour” has more than one meaning.
Ask 1,000 high school seniors what the word “Ploesti” brings to mind. Maybe one or two might know. Most will think it’s the newest band or dance crew on MTV.
Those raids were long, and far, and fraught with danger. Yet men like your patient willingly climbed into what could be a flying coffin with ten other men to make the trip, not knowing if they would return to their bunk that night.
Ploesti was almost 64 years ago, so your patient had to be at least 84-85.
This is the generation that saved a world.
I hope the same can be said of us someday.
Self-ping to 25
Thanks for catching me up on some history. There’s just so much out there, and you can’t know everything. All you can do is learn as much as you can. And you won’t get that in school, it has to be done on your own.
I have met a lot of Vets, but there is one that stands out, his name is Jim.
I don’t know his full story, but this I do know. He was an Army Ranger in Vietnam. His squad was on patrol one day and came across an enemy machine gun pit, a firefight started, most of his squad didn’t make it. Jim had to be Medivaced out. The Dr. removed 7 rounds from the machine gun, and patched him up and sent him home.
A few years later Jim was in a bad car accident, and broke his back and neck in 3 places, luckily there was only minor nerve damage. Jim started working for the VA about that time. A couple of years later Jim had a Heart Attack, and again the Drs. patched him up. But Jim had to go part-time.
Finally Jim just couldn’t work anymore from all the pain he was in. He applied for a Medical Retirement, he was denied because he had to many sick leave hours. He was told they could put him on extended sick leave until he had used up his hours. He said that would cause his co-workers to be short-handed, and Jim just couldn’t do that to his co-workers. Jim decided the best thing to do was resign, he did and left over 1500 hours of sick leave unused.
About 2 years after that Jim developed Lung Cancer, he fought it hard, but only lasted about 6 months.
I went to the funeral, they passed out little leaflets with Jim accomplishments, while I knew he had 1 Purple Heart, I didn’t know about the 2 others he had, or the fact he had been awarded 2 Bronze Stars, 1 with V devise, and 1 Sliver Star.
He is probably the most decorated man I ever met, and didn’t even know it.
When you visit a VA Hospital the man delivering the trays to the Patients just may be a bigger Hero than you think.
Jim’s job at the VA was delivering Trays to the patients, they don’t make ‘em like Jim anymore.
Thank you SO MUCH for posting this list. You read my mind. I’ve now read two of the stories and am really looking forward to the rest. What a blessing to FR (and so many others) is 60Gunner.
What a blessing to FR (and so many others) is 60Gunner.
Thanks for sharing this experience.
Meeting a REAL hero bump!
Well...THAT made me all misty!
Well done, Gunner!
My uncle-in-law was a pilot in WWII.
He lost his life at Ploesti.
Thanks so much for the pings!
I’d gotten in a rush with RL and didn’t research Ploesti as I meant to. Had never heard of it.
I think you’ll like this thread:
posted by Ravnagora and expanded in post 12 by concentric circles.