With Veteran’s Day upon us, I would like to pay homage to two men who bravely fought for our country. My father proudly served in WWII as an Army paratrooper with the Screaming Eagles 101st Airborne Division. He fought in Europe and, years later, regaled the neighborhood kids with stories of jumping out of planes in the pitch black of night, not knowing when he would hit the ground (or get caught in a tree), and never knowing exactly how close to the enemy he would land. My father-in-law served in the Marine Corps and, at the age of nineteen, suffered a life-threatening wound in the line of duty, during the battle at Iwo Jima. Only recently, has he told anyone of his experience during that life-changing moment.
He still isn’t sure what hit him on that fateful day. All he knew was, in a split second, he felt like he was on fire. Drifting in and out of consciousness, he only prayed that the unspeakable pain would end. Unbeknownst to him, his unit had been pushed back as he lay, completely unprotected, in front of his own lines. A medic came to his aid and hastily administered morphine, while attempting to carry him back to safety on a canvas stretcher, only to be dropped several times, whenever a bomb exploded around them. He says he can remember looking at the medic just as a bullet shot right through his rescuer. He remembers seeing the hole. Then, my nineteen year old, wounded father-in-law administered morphine to the very medic who had so bravely come to his aid. That man did not survive the battle. He died saving my husband’s father, but he will never be forgotten.
After the war, my father-in-law went on to receive his Bachelor’s degree at LaSalle College in Philadelphia, continuing at the University of Chicago for his Master’s degree, and, then together with my mother-in-law, raised eight children. Though his injury is a constant reminder of the hell he endured, he remains “Always Faithful” to the Marine Corps. Semper fi, Grandpa.
(Insert shameless plug here) My son, Brian, produced a short documentary, as an undergraduate film student in college, entitled, The Story Of A Generation. Following this post, is a link to the video. In it, he interviewed his grandfather about his experience at Iwo. It is worth eight minutes of your time to watch, as these men are vanishing too quickly and, soon, I fear their stories will be relegated to ancient history.