About all that my father told me of his WW2 service was a few days before he died in a hospital. “They used to call these ducks“, he said, referring to the bedpan by his bed. “They looked like a duck“.
He was in a famous unit that a German Officer called the “White Devils” – the 82nd Airborne. Injured while trying to help a scared friend out of the C-47, he spent 6 months in a hospital while his unit went on to Sicily and suffered 80% casualties.
I suspect that if he hadn’t had that accident, I wouldn’t be here typing this.
Some years later, my parents invited me to a Thanksgiving dinner with their friends, the Millers. My mother said that that was the only time, over wine and pecan pie, Dusty Miller, in the 2nd wave at D-Day, talked about that day. He saw his best friend die on that beach.
“You never think it’s going to be you“, he said.
Then a few years ago, I went back to Huntington, WV to meet my cousin and sister and clear out Uncle Peter’s things at his retirement home.
We had 3 days to clear out a lifetime of memories.
Peter was a Lieutenant in the Navy, stationed on an ammunition ship making the Murmansk Run.
Crossing a sea infested with U-Boats.
He said when he had the watch at night, it was hard to distinguish the wake from a playing dolphin and a torpedo. You’d be torn as to whether to sound the alarm.
He never was right after the war.
They’re all gone now.
And now the man who led the last air mission of WW2 has just gone west.
Proud of them all….