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Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Bro. Curtis, Jun 6, 2014.
A day of special remembrance and sadness for the folk in Bedford, VA.
The unit, still located in Bedford is Company A - 116 Inf
Dad fought in the Pacific, growing up I hardly ever remember him talking about it, but I do remember the many times he woke the whole house up shouting in his nightmares though.
I took him some cooked greens yesterday, he was sitting outside reading a piece in the paper about the war and I reckon he was in one of those rare moods and he opened up and just started talking about those that he had served with and relating one experience after another he had had with them during the war.
I mostly sat quietly and listened, asking a question now and then just to keep him moving along and talking. They really were a tough generation. He'll be 90 come Jan.
I had an uncle who landed at Normandy, however it was about a month later in July of '44. He was in the 35th Infantry Division, they fought in the hedgerows, they had lots of casualties, it was rough fighting. This is an actual photo of the 35th in France.
When I was a kid I always wanted to ask him about his service in Europe, but he was real quiet and I was told to leave him alone.
Write down everything you remember him saying. Keep it both for yourself, you kids, grandkids and future generations. It is important, IMHO, to pass on such information.
and if possible - get it on audio and or video tape.
Good advice Salty. And after the taping transcribe or have someone transcribe the conversation in RTF format.
I am so pleased you were able to get him in a mood where he could tell you some of his history.
My "pop" was at Gallipoli with the ANZACS and he was about 90 before he really spoke about conditions and the horror of it all. Prior to that he only ever told funny stories.
The wars are so utterly stupid and criminal in the benefit of hindsight with the generation. The folk who suffer through them need to be able to relate the true human horror of such carnage as a means of making it real for those who come after, not the glamourised television stories etc.
As a nurse, I looked after Vietnam vets at times, and learnt that if you needed to wake them .....always do it from the foot of the bed by touching a leg and being out of the way of flaying limbs. It struck me at the time how sad that was, and had any of their wives known what to do when they came home....
I've often wondered why the returning vets are so reluctant to talk of their experiences---whether they fought in the ETO or PTO, Korea, and Vietnam
I'd ask myself----why won't they talk???
Then I found out why they wouldn't talk-----when I started reading WW2 & Vietnam war history
For them----how would they describe human horror----and carnage--constant death and dying---and utter destruction???
Not just that, blackbird; we just don't have the words to make you understand how we feel about it, how it affected us.
My dad was code breaker in the Army Signal Corps in WWII stationed in Hawaii. He rarely talked about the experience except to say he never wanted to go to Hawaii ever again. As a child I thought that was extremely strange since it's supposed to be heaven on earth, but as an adult I can see why he thought this way.
Thanks to all contributors, this is a wonderful and heartwarming thread. I, too, had Uncles who fought in WWII. And the pattern was the same as outlined by others here, they were just doing their jobs, they told funny stories, and only near the end of their lives did they share some of the horror with their children. These men and women were indeed the greatest generation in American history.
My dad landed at Salerno with the 36TH Division. In December, 1943, On the way to relieve a forward observation post with a LT. and 2 other soldiers, they were caught in the middle of a German counterattack and they were all taken prisoner.
He spent the rest of the war as a POW in Poland and was liberated in April of 1945.
He was killed in a car wreck in 1970 and never spoke of his experiences. I only know about his capture because my mother had a letter from the US Army detailing his disappearance.
His kind never talked, just suffered in silence. God bless them all. I don't really believe the current generation could,, or would, do what they did.
Dad was HQ company radio operator for the 142nd. Landed at Salerno in September '43. Was with them all the way through Anzio, Velletri, Southern France and the Siegfried Line -- which the 36th, not Patton's 3rd, broke. What regiment was your dad in?
Battery B, 132ND Field Artillery
I heard Dad talk about the 132nd. I think he knew a couple guys in the outfit. Our dads couldn't have been very far from each other, I wouldn't think.
Dad's revelation about the war came slowly. He told a "funny story" when I was little about walking into HQ company's tent, taking off his helmet, and being told he needed to go jump in the stream, he had white phosphorus in his hair.
A few years later and with me a few years older, he added content: The white phosphorus came from an exploding artillery shell.
Finally, the whole story came out when I was getting ready to ship off for Vietnam: He, his radio operator's assistant, the company first sergeant, a fairly new lieutenant and a green-as-grass major just off the boat were on top of a hill overlooking Velletri. They were part of the first assault the next day. Suddenly an artillery shell exploded 30 yards to their right. Dad told everybody to "wait for it."
The next one came down 30 yards to the left. Dad shouted "Everybody over the side!" and grabbed Sammy (his assistant), the radio, and the maps and threw them all over the brow of the hill. A half-second later, the third shell came down right on top of their previous position on top of the hill. Dad looked around, saw that he, Sammy and the radio were all right, but the Sergeant had been a bit late reacting, and had some moderate shrapnel wounds.
The lieutenant and the major never moved. Didn't know what Dad was talking about.
So much for a "funny story."
LOL They never heard of bracketing?
Didn't have much experience with artillery, did they? Yet.
Like I said, the Major was a newbie off the boat, and the lieutenant had been in the line for only a few weeks. That was their first and only chance to learn. So no, they never learned. Like I said, they never moved.