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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.

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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