This post is a continuation of my story about my father and his early years. I know there there millions of families that have been seriously affected by all the wars we have been involved in during my lifetime. Some grievously damaged, some to a lesser extent. I see too many people who are still living with the wounds of my generation’s war and that is Vietnam. They can’t let go of their feeling and seem to live them almost daily. To what extent my father’s war time experiences effected the family is hard for me to grade.
Dad graduated from high school in June of 1941 and was inducted into the armed services in February of 1943 at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis. He was not yet twenty years old. I suspect due to his hunting experiences he was rated as a carbine-sharpshooter and was sent to Europe. According to his “record of separation” report from the army he was in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. So it is fairly obvious that he saw more than his share of death during his two and a half years of war.
Dad only mentioned his war time experiences to me one time in his life and that is when there was the possibility that I would be drafted and sent to Vietnam. He told me of his platoon being sent out on a mission and everyone but him was killed. He was wounded and taken as dead by the enemy but managed to get back to his lines. When he got back he told his superiors to “take this gun out of my hands or I will go AWOL”. He knew that I was a very anti-violence kid and if it came to it he would support me going to Canada to avoid going to war. I was totally overwhelmed by his words.
They did take the gun out of his hands and he became a medic and that is what he did until he was finally back home. He must have been a good soldier/medic as he received an American Theater Ribbon, EAME Theater Ribbon w/ 5 Bronze Stars, and a Good Conduct Medal. He was mustered out of the military in November 1945 and received a little over $300 payment upon discharge. Except for his discharge papers, dad kept nothing related to those years so there are no pictures for this post except the map above showing where he might have been.
Soon after his discharge he met my mom and I was born eleven months after he returned home. More on that later. I don’t know how much of dad’s stoicism was the result of his war time experiences that the kept totally to himself but I do suspect that a fair part of it was a result of those deadly years.
It seems that we have been in one war or another throughout my life but none of them compared to the war my father went through. It is good to see that more attention and resources are now being spent to treat PTSD in the soldiers returning from our latest wars in the Middle-East. Maybe a few less families will be destroyed as a result.
The next “Dad” story will be about his marriage and abandonment of his wife to greener pastures..