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A real American hero
Personal conversation | August 23, 2003 | Self

Posted on 08/23/2003 9:47:30 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth

Among my many occupations as an average working class guy, I sell honey at a local farmer's market.

Today, a tall gentleman came to my booth. His posture and bearing was military even through the withering effects of age. I noticed this immediately and looked him over to observe, rather than to see.

On the inside of his left forearm he bore a blurred tattoo. My father carries a tattoo from WWII that has become blurred and indistinct with time. The lettering on the tattoo was blurred like a jail-house tattoo, but the age of the man and the date (1941) of the tattoo told me that this was the real McCoy.

The inscription read: "Manila - 1941"

As we chatted about bees and honey, I asked the fellow if he had served with Wainwright. Yes, he said, how did you know? "Your tattoo," I replied. "Did you get out before the invasion?" He replied that he served until the end of WWII.

I knew immediately that this man had seen it all.

As we talked for the next 30 minutes or so, he related the most detailed information that only a man that had served in the hell that he had could. His skin was the deeply furrowed brown that only time under the tropical sun imparts.

He recounted his time defending Corrigidor, MacArthur, the fall, Battan and the internment and the transport vessels that the Japanese used to transport their troops and prisoners back to Japan.

I felt like shouting out to all of the patrons at the market: 'Look, a giant walks among us!'

After he bought his honey, he thanked me and melted back into the crowd.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; Philosophy; Unclassified; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: army; battan; deathmarch; heroes; japan; marines; navy; phillipines; usaf; veterans; wainwright; wwii
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Has anyone had similar experiences? What kind of heroes have you met? What are their stories?
1 posted on 08/23/2003 9:47:31 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth
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To: WorkingClassFilth
I once lived next door to a giant of a man who was a British soldier captured in the Philipines by the Japanese. He spoke fluent Japanese by the time he came home, and so befriended his captors that they made trips over to America after the war to apologize to him.

His two daughters are both over 6 feet 2 inches tall. I kid you not when I tell you that he was one big fellow!

2 posted on 08/23/2003 9:55:06 PM PDT by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
Nicely written
3 posted on 08/23/2003 9:58:26 PM PDT by woofie
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To: WorkingClassFilth; Southack
Truly awesome men.
4 posted on 08/23/2003 10:07:59 PM PDT by skr (The liberals are only interested in seeking Weapons for Bush Destruction)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
I work with a bunch of older pilots. One guy comes in to my teams office and starts re-telling a story he'd recently read in a book about a guy who, like my boss, flew refueling missions over 'Nam. At one point the story claims that this pilot fueled his fighters who than went in to take care of business and return for another tank full, then fly home. As frequently happens, 6 planes went in, 5 came out. The 5 got their gas and all headed home. After quite some time, the 6th fighter comes on the radio begging the tanker to come back and fill him up. The tanker is solo now and the enemy obviously knows about the attack. The re-fueler turns around, fills up the 6th fighter, who was on absolute fumes, and home they go. The 6th fighter was shot up and had additional problems landing, but made it. The pilot of that fighter wanted to give the tanker pilot a medal. About this time my boss says, "that was me and I'll tell you why I didn't want the medal: they would have court martialed(sp) me if they knew I went back." My boss then related several other addtional details about the ordeal while the original story teller just stood there with his mouth open, saying "yep, that is what the book said too." Freaked us all out.
5 posted on 08/23/2003 10:12:27 PM PDT by mad puppy
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To: WorkingClassFilth
You charged him? };-}
6 posted on 08/23/2003 10:26:30 PM PDT by At _War_With_Liberals (If Hillary ever takes the oath of office, she will be the last President the US will ever have. -RR)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
Thank you for sharing your story. Now I'll share mine.

I pulled into a freeway rest area one day even though I was a mere 15 miles from my home. As I hurried to the men's room I noticed a panhandler in a wheelchair but I was in too big a hurry to acknowledge his presence. On my way back by he spoke. All he said was, "Have a nice day, sir".

As I headed for my car it suddenly hit me...this guy could be a disabled vereran. So I went back, pulling my wallet out and gave him $5. He thanked me, of course, and asked me if I was headed west. I told him yes and asked him how far he was going. He answered, "As far I can."

I helped him into the car and loaded his chair into the trunk. As we drove I felt uneasy but curiosity got to me so I asked him what would he have done if I hadn't given him a ride. It was about 95 out and he was miles from town. He said he always gets where he needs to go and that Americans made sure of that.

Further in the conversation I asked him if he was a veterean and is that how he lost his legs. He said he was and proceeded to tell me about it.

He served in the Army in Vietnam and said he left his legs, a portion of his small intestines, and a good part of his sanity in a place called Dakto. I remember that well because I looked it up on the Internet when I got home. He told me all about it and about losing a friend who died in his arms.

When we reached my turnoff I felt guilty..that this man had given so much of himself so that I may live free and I was just going to dump him and his wheelchair off at the side of the road. So I offered to take him whereever he needed to go. He wouldn't have it. He had me drop him off where we were, at the local Denny's near the offramp where he was to have lunch with the $5 I gave him.

I dropped him off, helped him to the door and shook his hand knowing I'd never see him again and wondering where he would be tomorrow...or even that night.

Was this man, a homeless, legless Vietnam veteran a hero? In my eyes, yes.

That was in or around 1995. I wonder where Jack is now, if he's still in California, is he still homeless, or if he's even still alive.

I wish him the best.

7 posted on 08/23/2003 10:28:34 PM PDT by South40 (Get Right Or Get Left)
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To: skr
My neighbor fought in the Pacific for the whole war. He ran away from home at 17 to "see the world". He lied to get in the Army. He was due to get out in January 1942. December 7th changed that. He claimed to have more ship time than many Navy lifers.I believe he was truly sorry for some of the things they did to the Japanese. But, in his words "The little bastards wouldn't quit. We had to kill 'em". He killed men with a Winchester shotgun until it was taken away from him because it "wasn't issued to him". His outlook on life was simplistic. "What can they do to me? I've been a target for the whole Japanese Army. Nothing in life can scare me more than I've been scared. The only time I ever saw emotion was when his wife died. He was a kind, gentle, man and a gentleman. Rest in peace Paul...
8 posted on 08/23/2003 10:28:56 PM PDT by chadwimc
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To: At _War_With_Liberals
I've thought about that about twenty times.

The conversation was so sooth that I didn't eve think about the transaction.

OTOH, I doubt this character would have taken charity. He would have insisted on paying just like everyon else.

This man still stood tall - no handout requested or accepted.
9 posted on 08/23/2003 10:31:40 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (Defund NPR, PBS and the LSC.)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
This past year just found out that a man I have known for several years was a real American hero. He never talked to anyone about it - not even his family. After lots of questioning by a nephew he finally told his amazing story. He was on the USS Hornet when Jimmy Doolittle and his Raiders used the carrier for their mission. In June, of 42 he took part in the battle of Midway. In October, he was in the battle of Santa Cruz, the USS Hornet was hit and he was blown off the ship. He was picked up by the USS Porter and within an hour that ship was hit and he was blown off that ship. Through an amazing set of circumstances, he ended up with the 5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division. He then took part in the Battle of Guadalcanal where after being hit by shrapnel he worked his way behind a Japanese gun nest and took it out allowing them to take the beach. He was assigned stateside and then was called back in February of 45 and ended up in the Battle of Iwo Jima back with the Navy.

This story is unbelievable but verified. He never was awarded a purple heart by the Marine Corp because he didn't have a offical report made in the confusion. My son is in the 5th Regiment in Iraq and got a letter of thanks from the Commander. He is on his way home now and when he gets home will participate in a small ceremony awarding this man a purple heart donated by a Vietnam Veteran, also a Marine.
10 posted on 08/23/2003 10:35:25 PM PDT by everyvotecounts
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To: WorkingClassFilth
Maybe I was just lucky, but I grew up surrounded by humble men who did thier duty when called upon. I do not even know where to start the list.

The old guy down the street who lived across from my grandmother was in the Pacific fleet during WWII.

I had not one , but two great uncles who were with Patton from Africa until the end- both of them infantry.

There was the guy that owned one of the local gas stations who could barely walk- caught a German 88 directly in the hip at the Bulge.

The REALLY old gentleman down the sreet who fought with Black Jack Pershing in France.

My Sunday school teacher, the most gentle, humble and unassuming man I ever met was in the very first wave ashore a Normandy one June morning. He used to tell us that is where he really learned to pray and trust God.

I know a man I am proud to call a friend who was with the Marine Corps durng the withdrawal from the Chosin.

I have another friend who was with the Marines at Hue City.

Another Marine rifleman I know who served in Vietnam just recently committed suicide-back pain- the VA did absolutley nothing for him.

My very own father was in the ASA- and still won't talk about it.

The above list is only partial, and just off the top of my head.

I also had the privilege of serving in the United States Army as an Infantryman, being daily surrounded by young men who had volunteered to be there should thier country call upon them.

You do not have to look very far to find a true hero in this country. We are surrounded by them.
11 posted on 08/23/2003 10:39:17 PM PDT by Living Stone
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To: All
Damn, but I do love these stories. The sh*tbaggers out there might not care for it, but I sure do.

God bless all of the men that put themselves in harm's way for the rest of us. God speed your hitch and best to you on the civilian side of things.

Thanks for your duty!
12 posted on 08/23/2003 10:40:29 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (Defund NPR, PBS and the LSC.)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
I was only kidding. These men are totally self reliant and would be embarrased at the very least.
13 posted on 08/23/2003 10:49:47 PM PDT by At _War_With_Liberals (If Hillary ever takes the oath of office, she will be the last President the US will ever have. -RR)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
OK, let me tell you about my father. What I'm reporting comes from his memoirs and partly from the citations I just took down to Arlington National Cemetery. The staff at Arlington wanted to see the proof that he won two Bronze Stars and a Silver Star so they could bury him there with the proper honors.

Dad was an immigrant to this country--he came here from Slovakia when he was 16, in 1932. Didn't speak a word of English, but he worked like a madman to become a success here, and immediately volunteered to join the Army. He was sent to OCS and became a lieutenant.

He was a Signal Corpsman--that is, he was supposed to take movies and still photos, not shoot people. Always wound up using his .45 pretty freely anyway, because he was always in the very thick of things. Naturally in his position much of what he did had valuable intel applications as well as historical importance. When you see stock footage of American operations in the Pacific islands, especially in the Philippines, a good bit of that was shot by my father.

On one occasion he and some other American troops were in a narrow Manila street that was covered by Japanese troops who were shooting down from upper-storey windows. The Japs had erected a high barricade topped with barbed wire to close off the street. Several of the men with Dad were badly wounded and he felt that he had to get them out of that street and to safety. So he picked up each of the men and, carrying his burden, climbed up one side of the barricade, then climbed down the other side, all while under withering Japanese machine-gun fire. When he had gotten each man to safety he climbed back over the barricade and came for another American soldier. He said he could not understand why he wasn't killed when the Japanese were aiming right at him. It was a miracle, and he knew he had been spared to do something else with his life.

There were other incidents, too, rather similar.

He died not long ago. My mother had preceded him in death and after 46 years together he just didn't want to live without her. So he decided not to, and just let himself fade away.

14 posted on 08/23/2003 10:52:14 PM PDT by Capriole (Foi vainquera)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
There's a very nice, white-haird gentleman who works in my building who I often noticed because he always walked with such a dignified bearing, despite the weight of his many years.

Last year we had a little Christmas gathering in our office, and he came down and started to chat. We leaned that he was a US Marine who had seen action in Korea. He spoke briefly of having fought in some battle at a place called the "Chosen Reservior".

After he left I did a lookup on the "Chosen Reservior" on Google, and know now that I have one of America's truly great heros right here in my building.

15 posted on 08/23/2003 10:56:58 PM PDT by The Duke
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To: Capriole
God bless him. I am not a religious man, so that is no reflex. I am as proud of these nameless people just as you are proud of tour father.
16 posted on 08/23/2003 10:57:14 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (Defund NPR, PBS and the LSC.)
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To: The Duke
You do, indeed.
17 posted on 08/23/2003 10:58:12 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (Defund NPR, PBS and the LSC.)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
My computer crashed again, so I'm retyping this. Reading this brought back the memory of a different sort of tattoo. My father was a postman, and heard that a wholesale fabric store needed help on his route. I was 17, so my father recommended me to these two brothers who had numbers tattooed on their forearms. I was hired to work the stockroom. Actually they were moving shop, and I was out there with grown men, heaving 11 ft long rolls of fabric in and out of trucks with the promise of a cashier's job when the move was finished. My mother drove me and picked me up everyday from Inglewood. Yes, THAT Inglewood. She wouldn't let me take the bus. After they were all set up, they said they didn't need me anymore. Nice.

My dad was 50 when I was born. He was a first generation American, and when WWII was offical, he enlisted in his thirties. Needless to say, it wasn't easy to enlist at that age with bad feet, but my dad persisted. He felt he owed this country for everything his family had. He finally enlisted with the Army. He was stationed in France and was responsible for communications. He was a man who didn't hold a grudge, or talk bad about anyone, but he hated the French. On Sunday, we would watch World At War. His narratives on what we were seeing were awesome. When it came to France, his jaw tightened. Only after I was grown and had a child, he told me what he saw the Vichy French do. He also never fired his service 45... He was personally nonviolent. He joined the fight to help the people being slaughtered....

My dad is my personal hero. He has taught me patience, tolerence, and perservance. I will always miss him and his insight.

18 posted on 08/23/2003 10:58:42 PM PDT by TheSpottedOwl (I need a new tag line)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
Well, it doesn't have the heroic bearing of the previous stories, but...

One day in the summer of 1991 I went out for a drive from my home in Virginia and wound up in Roanoke at a gas station. While I was filling up my car, I saw a twentyish man in BDUs sitting on a duffel bag over near the building. He looked lost. I asked him if he needed any help and he said that he did, he needed a ride to near Bedford, about 30 miles away, and on my way back home. So I gave him a ride.

Turns out that this kid was an artilleryman with XVIII Airborne Corps in the first Gulf War...and thumbing rides was the only way he could get back to see his parents in a trailer park outside Bedford. He related a couple of stories of life in the sandbox, the most chilling of which was just how close we came to using chemical weapons. He said that his battery had the chemical warheads close at hand, and spent many hours in full MOPP-4 gear just waiting for Saddam to carry through on his threats. Had he launched WMD at our troops, we had the capability to respond *immediately* in kind, no ifs, ands, or buts.

He wouldn't even let me drive him up his driveway. I pulled off the side of the road, he got out, slung his heavy duffel, and hiked up a half-mile gravel road in the 95-degree heat.

I never got his name. But damned if I'll ever forget him. Just an ordinary soldier who did his job, fought for his country, helped free a nation...and then had to hitch a ride with a professional civilian like me in order to see his parents.

It humbled me. Still does.

My dad served on Leyte 1945-46. If he ever saw any combat, he never told me about it, in fact he didn't talk much about WWII at all--I don't even know what unit he was part of. He was a staff sergeant in a motor pool. He never had much kind to say about the Filipinos, but he couldn't say enough good things about the Japanese POWs they had there. He said they were incredibly hard-working, never griped, never backtalked, never gave anybody a second's trouble.

He'd already been told that he was going to be part of the first wave of the Japanese home island invasion (Olympic or Coronet, I forget which). So I've always held a special regard for Truman's use of the A-bomb...if he hadn't, I probably wouldn't be here. Thanks, Little Boy.

}:-)4
19 posted on 08/23/2003 10:59:42 PM PDT by Moose4 (It's rusting, it's paid for and it's bigger than your car. Don't get in my way.)
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To: All
Thanks for all of your replies! I am well into the bag at the moment, but I shall resume transmissions tomorrow AM. Please, keep the stories and anecdotes coming. The Americans listed in this forum are unique and irreplaceable.

God bless America!
20 posted on 08/23/2003 11:01:27 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (Defund NPR, PBS and the LSC.)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
Beautifully written.

I've had the honor of knowing quite a few war veterans, especially from WWII. My childhood neighbors were navy vets, and several neighbors since then have been veterans. When you ask about heroes, I realize that all of them were pretty quiet about their experiences in the service. Several of them served in the Pacific campaign, where they got tatoos (which impressed me greatly as a kid!) and probably alternated between being scared and bored half to death. They came home to raise families, pay mortgages and taxes, and continue to support their nation. Many unsung heroes among them.

My in-laws were both in the service. My mother-in-law served as a WAC in WWII, and was part of the support staff for Patton. She served in North Africa, Italy, and Germany before moving over to the State Dept. She was a disabled veteran, having developed multiple sclerosis during her service-related travels. Nobody knows too much about what she did in the State Dept. Despite writing a daily journal and many letters home, descriptions of what she did in the service and for the State Department were not included. She took those secrets to her grave. My father-in-law was the first of his poor Tennessee family to go to college, yet he left college to join the army. He helped with the Berlin Airlift. He would tell stories about his experiences in Germany, but never took any credit for lives he might have saved. Mostly they were tales about how he tricked the French customs agents and similar youthful hi-jinks. He came home, worked like a dog to support his family while going to school on the GI bill, and went on to become a mechanical engineer.

My parents were in Czechslovakia during the war. Dad was in the Czech army briefly before the Munich agreement forced them to lay down their arms. Mom and Dad lived their young years under Nazi occupation and Dad was actively involved in resistance activities. When they came to America in 1951, Dad wanted to go fight in Korea, but he was turned down. I don't recall whether it was because of age or lack of US citizenship. Mom and Dad went on to become naturalized citizens, and raised one future Freeper and one dedicated Vietnam war avoider. Since my brother doesn't have children, mom and dad can be assured that their grandsons are both being raised to honor the military and veterans who helped preserve our freedoms.

I'm continually impressed with how my parents' generation embraced service to one's country and defense of liberty. They stepped up to the challenge, despite personal hardship and long-term sacrifice. When the job was done, they quietly returned to their duties at home. Very inspiring.

21 posted on 08/23/2003 11:04:05 PM PDT by Think free or die
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To: WorkingClassFilth
Had the privelege of meeting this gentleman a few months ago when he spoke at ATF Night.

EHLERS, WALTER D.

Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and dare:
Near Goville, France, 9-10 June 1944. Entered service at: Manhattan, Kans. Birth: Junction City, Kans.
G.O. No.: 91, 19 December 1944.

Citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 9-10
June 1944, near Goville, France. S/Sgt. Ehlers, always acting as the spearhead of the attack, repeatedly
led his men against heavily defended enemy strong points exposing himself to deadly hostile fire
whenever the situation required heroic and courageous leadership. Without waiting for an order, S/Sgt.
Ehlers, far ahead of his men, led his squad against a strongly defended enemy strong point, personally
killing 4 of an enemy patrol who attacked him en route. Then crawling forward under withering
machinegun fire, he pounced upon the guncrew and put it out of action. Turning his attention to 2
mortars protected by the crossfire of 2 machineguns, S/Sgt. Ehlers led his men through this hail of
bullets to kill or put to flight the enemy of the mortar section, killing 3 men himself. After mopping up
the mortar positions, he again advanced on a machinegun, his progress effectively covered by his squad.
When he was almost on top of the gun he leaped to his feet and, although greatly outnumbered, he
knocked out the position single-handed. The next day, having advanced deep into enemy territory, the
platoon of which S/Sgt. Ehlers was a member, finding itself in an untenable position as the enemy brought
increased mortar, machinegun, and small arms fire to bear on it, was ordered to withdraw. S/Sgt. Ehlers,
after his squad had covered the withdrawal of the remainder of the platoon, stood up and by continuous
fire at the semicircle of enemy placements, diverted the bulk of the heavy hostile fire on himself, thus
permitting the members of his own squad to withdraw. At this point, though wounded himself, he carried
his wounded automatic rifleman to safety and then returned fearlessly over the shell-swept field to
retrieve the automatic rifle which he was unable to carry previously. After having his wound treated, he
refused to be evacuated, and returned to lead his squad. The intrepid leadership, indomitable courage,
and fearless aggressiveness displayed by S/Sgt. Ehlers in the face of overwhelming enemy forces serve
as an inspiration to others.
22 posted on 08/23/2003 11:08:49 PM PDT by gc4nra ( this tag line protected by Kimber and the First Amendment)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
My grandfather was in the Army and fluent in German. In WWII, the allied forces always put him right up front so he could shout instructions to the Germans. He was captured along with a few of his friends, and taken to be used as human shields. Both he and his friends were strapped to the front of tanks, with the hopes that the Americans would not fire upon their own men. (Not the case.) Several of his friends were killed - my grandfather was one of the few lucky ones.

After escaping, he was able to rejoin his company. He wound up being at the front of the group that liberated the Dachau concentration camp. We have some pictures that he took from a camera looted from a German home. It was truly gruesome what was being done right up to the point when it was all over, around April, '45. The camp was still full of people.
23 posted on 08/23/2003 11:11:07 PM PDT by July 4th
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To: WorkingClassFilth
Several years ago I went into a Peppermill Restaurant in Sacramento for a cup of coffee. I sat next to an old man who was jabbering away and flirting with a young waittress.

I noticed his Australian accent. We got to talking and it turned out he was a WWII vet, Australian air force. He had been shot down twice in North Africa, while flying Spitfires, and was once a prisoner for 10 days with a long range German commando unit operating behind British lines. He had come down in his chute near them, only to discover they were Germans behind British lines.

One night the Germans dug a hole and put him in, covered it with gear, and tarps and told him not to come out. The Jerries then ambushed a British armored column from both ends, and got the Brits to shoot at each other. The column got wiped out. The Jerries were outnumbered about 10 to 1.

A few days later the Germans gave him a map, water, and a gun and told him where his lines were. He made it home. He said these Germans, of the Africa Corps., were the bravest guys he ever met. And chivalrous as the desert is hot.

Later, in 1945, he was transferred to the South Pacific, to New Guinea. He and two other Aussie fighters were out scouting for Japanese troops to strafe. He said the word was there were no more Japanese fighters in New Guinea. He and his mates were flying low over the jungle looking to mop up some of His Majesty's leftovers.

It hit the fan. Three Zekes jumped them from above, and immediately the Zekes shot down the other two pilots. No chutes.

After a frantic chase and dog fight one of the Zekes finally nailed him, and he went down, crash landing in the jungle. He said that Japanese pilot who shot him down was the best he ever saw in action. Better than the Germans he fought.

Injured, he stumbled around and was eventually found by some native New Guinea men, who took him to their village. They healed him, and a few months later took him to an Australian outpost.

Three shoot downs, and he was still drinking beer and chasing skirts at his age.
24 posted on 08/23/2003 11:15:00 PM PDT by lostlegend (lostlegend)
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To: South40
That was in or around 1995. I wonder where Jack is now, if he's still in California, is he still homeless, or if he's even still alive.

Reminds me of a guy me and my friends hung out with around 1977. We were still underage, but we met this vet who lived in a converted stepvan. He took some massive shrapnel to the head, and ended up with a steel plate in his forehead. The doctors kindly told the fiancee and his parents that he might not be totally the same. Everyone promptly dumped him. Ok fine, his forehead looked kind of weird, but he was cool. He used to take us on nature walks and identify birds and plants and stuff, and you know stuff we couldn't give a shit about :) He needed to talk to somebody, anybody. He told us how it was; trying to do your job and getting fucked by your own brass. I learned a lot from him. When my mother found out, she threatened to put him in jail. I never saw him again. Hey, anyone here remember Rose and the 2 Diane's? Name the city....

25 posted on 08/23/2003 11:16:42 PM PDT by TheSpottedOwl (I need a new tag line)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
A real American hero ...GI JOE !

whoops...I saw the title and I thought this was about the cartoon

26 posted on 08/23/2003 11:18:47 PM PDT by stuck_in_new_orleans
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To: WorkingClassFilth
Several weeks ago, I was attending water therapy after my second back surgery. A distinguished gentleman was working his feet in the pool near me and we started talking. Somehow WWII came up and he said, "I flew B-24s over the European Theater with the 455 Bomb Group." (He later gave me his card with B-24 logo and his name on it.)

He said, "Guess who one of my instructors in England was?" I had no idea. He smiled and said, "Jimmy Stewart." He went on to relate that he and Jimmy exchanged Christmas cards for awhile after the war and that Jimmy was just as neat as the public was led to believe.

27 posted on 08/23/2003 11:22:38 PM PDT by RiverDrifter
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To: WorkingClassFilth
I met Joe Foss a once and had a short exchange about the war and growing up in South Dakota, he was soft spoken and humorous and it turns out he knew my dad. I was in awe of meeting an MOH recipient. I also had the privilege of shaking the hand of Leo K. Thorsness after listening to him speak at a Memorial Day event...most of the audience had teared up as he described his captivity and I noticed that he never mentioned the events around earning the MOH...shortly after he spoke he removed the MOH and slipped it in his pocket...when I thanked him for
his service he replied "it was just a different time".

My sister gave me the book "Ghost Soldiers" about the rescue of 500 American and Philippine POWs held captive by the Japanese on Luzon...it goes into great detail of the events leading up to the fall of Luzon and the march to the prison camps. Interesting enough, the participants in the "death march" referred to it as "The Hike"...the media coined it the "Battan
Death March".
28 posted on 08/23/2003 11:24:44 PM PDT by in the Arena
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To: Think free or die
I worked with a truck company in Texas, making 2.5 and 5 ton trucks for the Army (there, if you want you can look it up).

A contractor was working there, 78 years old, had been a manager for Detroit Diesel, AM General and General Motors.(AM General makes the military Humvee) and now due to his age was an independent contractor. He had done 7 amphibious landings during WWII as a landing craft operator. That means that at Tarawa he worked all 9 waves. ("Got to be brave when you go ashore, cause your the 9th wave and there isnt no mo').

My son visited for a weekend, age 10. We went out to a shooting range, and he shot a few magazines through my Colt Government model .45, till the range officer told my son that because the .45's disconnector could malfunction, it could go full automatic, he could only shoot one round at a time. This really pissed off my son, because he was only 10, and pissed me off because I had a Colt 1991, not a military 1911 which expressly did NOT have that failure mode. The range officer was wrong, but he was the range officer.

Anyways, Bill, my coworker/contractor told my son at a BBQ at my house that because he is also small (5 foot 5 and 1/2) and old looking the range officer had told him the same thing. So he shot one round at a time until the range officer turned his back, then let loose with a full magazine rapid fire, all in the kill zone. The range officer turned around and was about to say something.
Bill said, "You aren't going to change me at this time in my life." My son felt a lot better about his range experience after that. Some guys are just jerks, even if they are range officers.

Bill was a great worker, showed up early every day, stayed late every day, ran me into the ground (30 years younger than he). He would walk the assembly line at about 20 miles an hour, and still spot anything the slightest bit out of order. He was a major reason that we were able to get our truck reliability to jump by a factor of 8 while I was there. He had been saying the same things for 7 years, but I backed him (which hadn't happened in the past). We got a few changes in just before the deployment to Afghanistan, and I am sure that it got a few guys home in one piece. Thanks Bill, You gave us a lot more than ever I deserved.

(When you catch a bullet on Afghanistan's plains, and the women come out to cut up what remains, just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains, and go to your Gawd like a soldier. R. Kipling)
29 posted on 08/23/2003 11:29:27 PM PDT by donmeaker (Bigamy is one wife too many. So is monogamy, or is it monotony?)
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To: Living Stone
"My very own father was in the ASA- and still won't talk about it."

Most of what he did is probably still classified. They take forever to release that kind of information.
30 posted on 08/23/2003 11:30:02 PM PDT by PLMerite ("Unarmed, one can only flee from Evil. But Evil isn't overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
When my son was in high school, he worked several jobs. One of them was bussing at a local diner. He made a friendship with an older gentleman who used to come in everyday at 4:00p.m. When that man found out that my son had signed up with the Marine Corp, he told him his story. He was a Marine pilot who flew with the mission of the Enola Gay. They became very close and because this man never had any children he told my son when you graduate boot camp I want you to have this ring. The ring had been given to him by the Marine's for his service. Well, about a week before my son left - he gave it to him early. My son felt very honored.

I guess I wanted to share that because I think it symbolizes kind of a passing down of heroes from one generation to another. With the war on terror that America has become engaged in - I know that more heroes are quietly being made.
31 posted on 08/23/2003 11:31:53 PM PDT by everyvotecounts
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To: July 4th
Damn.
32 posted on 08/23/2003 11:33:29 PM PDT by TheSpottedOwl (I need a new tag line)
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To: Living Stone
I am such an unforgivable idiot...

How did I ever leave off the above list the husband of my father's sister?

He was shot down over France in a B-17 in (I think it was ) 1942 and spent the rest of the war in a German Stalag.

They beat him during intial interrogation, and then pretty much left him alone after that.

He lost a lot of weight during his incarceration, said they fed them nothing but thin turnip soup and thin bread the whole time.

He hated turnips.

It is easy to forget, I think, because he never spoke of it at all, unless he was well lubricated, and then only if questioned directly.
33 posted on 08/23/2003 11:36:12 PM PDT by Living Stone
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To: July 4th
And remember, Dachau was a work camp, not an extermination camp like Auchwitz (according to Victor Frankel, who was at both as an inmate).


If you want to read a great book to get you through times of trouble, try "Man Searches for Meaning" by Victor Frankel. He developed the third school of Viennese psychiatry based in part on what he learned in the concentration camps. I know him only through his book. That is enough for me.
34 posted on 08/23/2003 11:38:06 PM PDT by donmeaker (Bigamy is one wife too many. So is monogamy, or is it monotony?)
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To: Living Stone
" You do not have to look very far to find a true hero in this country. We are surrounded by them."

How very true. When I see my parents' neighbor planting petunias for his wife, I see a patriot, veteran, firefighter, loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and all-around American hero. One of many.

35 posted on 08/23/2003 11:43:10 PM PDT by Think free or die
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To: WorkingClassFilth
My friend's grandfather was in the South Pacific. I'll always remember how he told us that they'd been in water for weeks and when they finally got out of it the callous on their heels just peeled off.
36 posted on 08/23/2003 11:43:46 PM PDT by tallhappy
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To: WorkingClassFilth
I know a man who went to work every day, made certain there was food on the table and clothes on his kids back.

There's multitudes of these men out there, some of them are fortunate to have jobs they sometimes enjoy, some of them don't but they do it anyway, day in and out, years on end.

Here's to the unsung heros, my dad was one.


37 posted on 08/23/2003 11:52:59 PM PDT by freedom9
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To: PLMerite
Well I know that, but it's not like I'm going to rat him out or anything.

He has made some very interesting comments throughout the years, and will never elaborate when questioned.

It is rather exasperating, as he is growing older, and I do not want valuable family history to die with him.

He was separated from active duty in 1962. What could still be so sensitive? I mean, technology has changed so much since then as to be basically unrecognizible.

The bottom line is this: they told him not to talk, and he wouldn't say S*** if he had a mouthful.
38 posted on 08/23/2003 11:55:03 PM PDT by Living Stone
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To: WorkingClassFilth
O.V. Rainey must be included in this list. He is getting older now and slowed by numerous ailments of age but his wit , humor and intteligence are as sharp as ever. He fought in Europe during WW II. From the beach to Berlin. He was wounded in France, awarded the purple heart, patched up and continued after reassignment. He was captured by the Jerrys near the Ardenes and liberated 2 weeks later by American forces. (Long after the war we found out that the group of POWs he was with had already been scheduled to be included in the massacre of POWs that occured in the region. Exactly 3 days after he was liberated.)
He was a member of the first squad of US Army to enter the Wolfs Lair,where Hitler committed suicide.
Mr Rainey stayed on after the war in Nurhemburg to aid in the trials of Nazis. While on this duty he says it was his distict honor to use Himmlers captured staff car to go hunting (his lifes passion) with his buddies.
When the Korean war broke out his number was called again.
there he lost portions of 2 toes to frostbite. One particular night he awoke to gunfire and upon leaving his sack discovered there postion was being overrum by chinese. This he relates as the "Most scared a man gets, and lives to tell about". He says,"we shot 'em in front of us and behind us as we ran toward our own rear area. Ran out of ammo 100 yards from where our lines eventually held. Don't know why I didn't get it then and there." He firmly believes that prayers being sent up daily by his immediate and extended family stateside is the only reason for this.
After the Korean war he stayed in the Army . Served at to seperate posts for a few years and then came Nam. He was due to retire when his orders to Vietnam showed up. He pulled a full tour in the Highlands bordering Laos with the native tribsmen there. Saw a lot of action. When his wife found out his tour was going to be extended she FINALLY lost her composure and camped out on one (D) Senator Albert Gore SR.s doorstep demanding the return of her husband whom she felt had done his share. I think the only right thing Senator Gore ever did was bring this man home.
SSGT Rainey retired with a full pass in review ceremony in 1965 at Ft Cambell Kentucky when I was two years old.Even though I don't remember it I know I was there. You see SSGT O.V.Rainey is my grandfather. A man living out the twilight of his life with a humble and quiet nature born of seeing more death , dying and pain than a single life should have to bear. He is an always cheerful,father of three,grandfather of eight,greatgrandfather of five. Quick with sage advice and loved by all who know him. God bless all who serve as 27 members (Myself included) have.
39 posted on 08/24/2003 12:23:59 AM PDT by ping jockey (It only takes $.13 to do the job correctly.)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
Thank you so much for your post. These are the people that give us the opportunity to be great. These are the humble servants of us all. How can anyone ever use the same word (Hero) to describe a Jordan , Bryant, Farve, Petty, or Ali, when that same word is used to describe the individuals in these posts and those like them is beyond me.This word (hero) should be held in reverant reserve for those that selflessly lost their lives or placed themselves in situations where loss of life and limb could occurr.Oh well I guess I am asking to much of the "Give it to me now , I have a right to Nintendo" , crowd.
40 posted on 08/24/2003 12:35:15 AM PDT by ping jockey (It only takes $.13 to do the job correctly.)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
I can think of two of these men - one of them with nearly the exact same experience in the Pacific. (He was my neighbor.) He was a bomber pilot, shot down, broke his back. Recovered well enough to survive the Death March.

The other was my uncle. During WWII he led a platoon of infantrymen in Iceland and Greenland. Their job was to alpine ski from fjord to fjord hunting U-boats with bazookas. Having spent time myself on Army issued alpine skis, I can't imagine doing that for any length of time - much less years. They sunk a few subs though.
41 posted on 08/24/2003 12:35:39 AM PDT by 11B3 (Looking for a belt-fed, multi-barreled 12 guage. It's Liberal season, no daily limit.)
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To: ping jockey
This is the best thread i have ever read on FR....My grandfather was at the invasion of Leyte...he was shot in the inner thigh by a Japanese sniper as he lit a cigarette (two days after everything was suppose to be clear)...just missed his nads...my best friend's great uncle was a bomber pilot that was shot down over Germany...he managed to escape...i enjoy all their stories...i hope this thread continues...even if freepers just mention tidbits like me.
42 posted on 08/24/2003 12:44:25 AM PDT by teldon30
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To: WorkingClassFilth
My Dad. Left high school at 17 to enlist in the Marines and serve his country, in World War. Rode the bus to Billings Montana, then the train to San Diego.

Trained at Pendelton, and after floating around the South Pacific, landed his amphib tank on Okinawa. He was seriously wounded in the hand, when shrapnel hit his field telephone.

He recovered from his wound, at Honolulu, and was ready to return to full duty, when we atom-bombed the shit out of the fanatic Jap bastards. (written thusly, as that is precisely how the guys felt--sorry if it offends)

My mother was certain he would have been off to invade Japan, had not the war ended. I believe he was out before he turned 20.

My Dad was an outgoing man, but reserved about the hell of actual combat. He was one proud Marine, to his death in 1996.
43 posted on 08/24/2003 12:57:00 AM PDT by truth_seeker
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To: teldon30
I can't help but feel the legacy of those that served in WW II is slipping through our fingers. I think it should be considered most noble if free republic becomes storehouse of stories like this . At leaste visitors to this site will get a better understanding of what "Being an American" is all about. It is about selfllessness NOT selfishness. The day we as a nation forget this our certain demise is imminent.
The OUTSTANDING job being done in Afganistan and Iraq (and hundreds of other nameless places) being done by our forces has given me reason to say we aren't even close to that day thank God. May God protect and keep our nations men and women at arms. My God grant us peace through any means he wills.
44 posted on 08/24/2003 12:58:58 AM PDT by ping jockey (It only takes $.13 to do the job correctly.)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
A good friend's Marine Dad spoke of the South Pacific...He would be in a foxhole and all night long the "Japs" would be talking to him...They'd be saying "Joe, I can see you...I'm going to kill you...You'll be dead by morning"...As I understand it, this was a nightly occurrance for some time...
I didn't learn much about WWII from my Dad...Another one of those Staff Sgts in the motor pool...He started out somewhere in Africa in "41" and made it home in "46"...5 theaters of operation total...
Like many others, he was under Patton at one time...I asked him about Patton's nick-name, Old Blood and Guts...My dad says yeah, his guts and YOUR blood...My dad wasn't too impressed with George Patton...
I did see pictures of a liberated concentration camp...Dead prisoners stacked about 10 feet high and probably 50 yards long...Numerous rows of them...The holocaust was real...Anyone that says otherwise is an idiot...
My dad would not allow a gun in the house, even for hunting...Said he'd seen enough killing...
At ten years old, my oldest son said he wanted to drive a tank...He kept saying it until---he drove a tank...U.S. Army...Germany, not long before the WALL came down...
The initial story from the military was that a bomb had exploded in his car...What became the official story was that he was in a car wreck and the car caught on fire...At the funeral here in the States, his sargeant told the family that he was involved in smuggling people out of East Berlin and everything was connected...
Like so many soldiers, he was a wonderful boy and I miss him dearly...
As for me, I've got plenty of heros...
45 posted on 08/24/2003 1:01:06 AM PDT by Iscool
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To: ping jockey
http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/949830/posts
46 posted on 08/24/2003 1:01:57 AM PDT by teldon30
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To: teldon30
thanks
47 posted on 08/24/2003 1:04:36 AM PDT by ping jockey (It only takes $.13 to do the job correctly.)
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To: ping jockey
ping
48 posted on 08/24/2003 2:12:33 AM PDT by TomSmedley ((technical writer looking for work!))
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To: WorkingClassFilth
My father-inlaw was a medic during WWII. He served in Italy and Northern Africa. In the midst of a battle he was wounded. This wound was from fire which left him completely bald. He continued to do his job and never reported the injury, so he never received The Purple Heart. My father-inlaw, Eddie, never told us just how he caught on fire. He was a good man who volunteered, worked two jobs most of his life to support his family. He never talked of the war, only to tell humorous stories.

Here is one......Sitting around the Thanksgiving table one year, my brother inlaw was relating his son's experience serving on board ship. My father inlaw was trying to interupt and say something. Eddie was quite feeble by this time. Finally, he blurted out on the way home from the war aboard a ship while pulling guard duty top side, the ship was in rough waters, rocking back and forth. He was one of the two guards. They were not allowed to leave under any circumstances. The other guard had to go to the bathroom. He hung his butt between the rails. The ship rocked down and then back up very quickly. Eddie said the poor guy ended up pooping right on his own head!

We really laughed at this story. We miss Eddie. One fine hero.
49 posted on 08/24/2003 3:08:48 AM PDT by raisincane
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To: WorkingClassFilth
A lot of good stories like this at http://teamhouse.tni.net
50 posted on 08/24/2003 5:10:41 AM PDT by Shamrock-DW
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