We all write books – books of our lives. For those who believe in a Deity, perhaps our book is reviewed for us when it is time.
Virtually all of us leave this world with our books unknown by anyone else. One of the reasons I have enjoyed re-posting so much of Lex’s work, is that he left his book – or I should say, much of his book, for the world to see. He was a man I admired and respected.
I used to have a neighbor who was a real character. As I noted in a story about him, I think he left us with only me – and a few others – knowing anything about his book. I preserved at least one little story for him. In retrospect, while I said that I didn’t know which of his stories were, ugh, embellished, I have since believed with some thought that it was 100% true. That he was a Marine who survived Tarawa, Saipan, and later, in Korea, the Chosin Reservoir. The things he told me I believe, are not the stories of a braggart.
When I asked him how he survived the landing at Tarawa where, because the Navy refused to heed the advice of an Australian coast watcher about tides, their landing craft were stuck on coral reefs 100s of yards off shore. He said that with his gear he would just let himself go to the bottom – and walk or crawl along. Then push up for air, and go down again.
He said that when in the jungle – if you had to relieve yourself – you just went in your pants because of the possibility of Japanese snipers. That is not something a poseur would say.
So one Thanksgiving, my parents were invited to dinner at the home of family friends of many years, the Millers. As it was, my girlfriend at the time invited me to her home with her son for that same evening.
I chose my girl friend.
Dusty Miller, as I recall him, was of smaller stature and fairly soft spoken. He
sold insurance was a certified financial counselor and would stop by my father’s office many times as they went to lunch together.
After dinner, my mother said, he told of his Army experience. He had never talked of it before in all the years we knew him.
He was apparently in the 2nd wave at D-Day. My mother asked him if he was worried about dying that day.
“I was young, and didn’t think it would happen to me”, he said.
On that landing craft as the ramp swung down, he would witness his best friend drown because his gear was too heavy, and he couldn’t get his feet on the ocean floor.
There was nothing Dusty could do, as all you could do was try to get ashore and not be shot.
He was later shot – on Utah or Omaha beach – and met the woman who would become his wife, Doris, in the hospital. She was his nurse.
Someone on the Lexicans Facebook Page noted that Google didn’t even acknowledge this day – a day that would have 10,000 casualties for the Allies including 2,500 dead. A day that was the beginning of the end for Hitler and the darkness of western Europe that had descended.
Dusty and Doris are long gone, but we haven’t forgotten.