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Thread: Met a WWII Veteran Today

  1. #1
    Go Reds Go! UKFlounder's Avatar
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    Met a WWII Veteran Today

    I had the pleasure of meeting a WWII veteran this afternoon . He was drafted, joined the navy, and his ship, the USS Chase, was damaged by a kamikaze attack near Okinawa. The men jumped into the Pacific. He held onto an oil barrel as he barely knew how to swim.

    Another ship picked up the men and gave them dry clothes. The next morning, when their ship did not sink, they got back on it and it was towed in for repairs.

    I found a copy of his draft registration card on Fold3 and printed a copy. He and his daughter seemed to appreciate that. That made me feel good to do something small but nice for him.

    It was an enjoyable conversation, and my honor to talk with him
    Last edited by UKFlounder; 05-27-2021 at 05:40 PM.

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    Member adkindo's Avatar
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    Quote Originally Posted by UKFlounder View Post
    I had the pleasure of meeting a WWII veteran this afternoon . He was drafted, joined the navy, and his ship, the USS Chase, was damaged by a kamikaze attack near Okinawa. The men jumped into the Pacific. He held onto an oil barrel as he barely knew how to swim.

    Another ship picked up the men and gave them dry clothes. The next morning, when their ship did not sink, they got back on it and it was towed in for repairs.

    I found a copy of his draft registration card on Fold3 and printed a copy. He and his daughter seemed to appreciate that. That made me feel good to do something small but nice for him.

    It was an enjoyable conversation, and my honor to talk with him
    Those guys were a different breed than my generation. I love listening to those stories from the men that lived them, but it does remind me that my life has been really boring in comparison.
    “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”
    ― Marcus Aurelius

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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    My f-i-l died a few years back. He missed D-day with the mumps but landed on d+3 and fought his way west to the submarine pens and then east into Germany. Lots of stories. He came home with PTSD only they didn't call it that and it was 30 years before his life really settled down.

    Towards the end, he wasn't always the clearest of bells and now and then he needed some medical assistance. Went to see him in the hospital and a male nurse approached me as I left the room and asked me where and when he served. It seemed the nurse had startled him in his sleep last night and they went hand to hand for about 20 seconds. The nurse had trained as a paratrooper and was able to counter most of it, but if he had had a different nurse it could have been bad.

    He died in his 90's two and a half years ago. There aren't that many of them left.
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  8. #4
    Member JaxRed's Avatar
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    I lost my dad at 97 in January. Recruiters came to his High School and the deal basically was "sign up today and you'll get your diploma right now". So he did (and a bunch of others). In Dec of 44 his unit got sent to the front lines as replacements for war weary units. They had never seen action.

    Their location turned out to be the point where the Germans attacked to start the Battle of the Bulge. Germany's last gasp to retake Europe. They were overwhelmed and eventually surrendered. He was sent to prison camp in the infamous Slaughterhouse Five. Those prisoners cleaned up bodies in the aftermath of the Dresden bombings. The history channel has a documentary on it, and he is interviewed in the documentary.
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  10. #5
    Member BernieCarbo's Avatar
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    I hadn't thought about this for years, but this talk of WWII vets reminded me of something. Years ago when I was in Hungary, unbeknownst to me, at least in the beginning, there was a Soviet base near the city I was staying in.

    One night I was sitting in one of the local pubs with my gf and some other friends. I couldn't talk with anyone because of the language barrier, but it was still fun. One night though, two Soviet soldiers walked in the door and went up to the bartender. They spoke, and then the bartender pointed at me. Obviously they heard there was an American there, which was unheard of during those times. They walked over and said something, and I just replied, "Sorry, I don't speak Russian", and pointed to my gf, who knew Russian because it was mandatory in school.

    She explained why I was there and then he told her to tell me something for him, and she replied back, "I don't speak English, so I can't talk to him either." The soldier was exasperated, and looked at me trying to find the words, and finally said, "Krieg! War! Scheisser!" Then he pointed to me and then back to himself and said, "Kameraden!" I just stuck out my hand and said, "That sounds good to me", and he motioned to the bartender to bring schnapps shots. I had a little tattered world atlas with me and I showed him where I was from and he did the same, and we had a great time that night.

    But a week later, almost the same thing happened, except this soldier was a little older and he was at least an officer or a higher NCO. It was the same drill where he spoke with the bartender, and then he approached and stuck out his hand. I was about to gesture to my gf, when he started speaking some broken German, so I could finally at least talk to someone. He said he fought in WWII in Stalingrad and marched to Berlin, and was now a career soldier (this was 1974, so I'm guessing he was in his mid-late 40's). Then he opened his overcoat and pulled out a bottle of vodka, saying, "For you". This scene repeated itself regularly with other soldiers, and I think they were just curious to see what an American looked like, and I made some very interesting acquaintances. The next time I saw this particular guy he gave me a military badge from his uniform that indicated where he had fought, so the next time I went back to the west I tore a couple of patches from one of my old Army coats and returned the favor, but I had to explain to him that all I did was fix trucks, and didn't fight anywhere. He laughed and said, "No matter, Kamarad! Nostrovia!", and raised his glass.

    Man, there aren't many of these guys left on either side anymore. What a time that was.

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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    To meet someone that lasted from Stalingrad to Berlin is amazing. That was a war within a war between those two countries. Especially after Kursk when it was all Russia after they took back the Ukraine. Ran the Germans and Romanian Fascist out then Hungary. The Germans and Hungarians had some good counterattacks but most of the good reserves were given to the Bulge offensive. The Hungarian Arrow Cross party were pretty terrible too when it came to the Holocaust.

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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    It wasn't that unusual to meet veterans over there, because virtually everyone between 16 and 50 were either part of the allies, the axis, or partisans. But it's true that it was unusual to meet a Stalingrad vet, because the USSR was so closed and you rarely met a Russian, and nearly all of the Germans were either killed or captured, so there weren't many of them either. Even the Hungarian armies were annihilated there. My grandfather was conscripted towards the end by the Germans for the defense of Budapest, but he ended up being captured by the USSR and sent to Siberia to work in forced labor camps to die with hundreds of thousands of others.

    I did meet a lot of former German POWs that spent time in US camps, and they all had the same story- they would work in the fields during the day, were paid for their work, and were treated well.

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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    I had three great uncles who were in WWII and feel fortunate to have known them.

    Uncle Tom Ruwan was marine who piloted beach landing craft at Tarawa and Iwo Jima. His boat was hit in some operation after Iwo Jima and he was unconscious for a month. My aunt thought he was dead until the Marines reported they'd located him in a hospital in Australia. He didn't speak much about the war.

    Uncle Jack Hobday was a navigator, who was on one of the B-17s that flew unarmed into Hickam Field during the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. You can read his oral history here (which I made him tell me about 50 times when I was a kid). https://www.nps.gov/perl/learn/histo...bertHobday.pdf
    Here is the coolest thing about Jack though. I found this interview with the guy who was the pilot of the plane and when asked about the navigator (remember these guys were shooting sites with no radio navigation, all celestial), the guy said “I had one night flight with that gentleman,” Thacker said. “He hit Diamond Head right on the nose after 2,500 miles of celestial navigation.”

    Uncle Ray Backs who was in the army European Theater, but never mentioned it to any of us. I'm not sure what unit, where or anything.
    Last edited by SunDeck; 06-03-2021 at 08:19 PM.
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  19. #10
    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    My dad was in the Marine Corp. in WWII and fought in the Pacific. He was in the 4th Marine Div. and was in on the landings on Roi-Namur, Saipan, and Tinian in the Marianas. He caught Dengue fever there and got send to Hawaii and missed the Iwo Jima landings. His unit got pretty chewed up there. He was the demolitions guy in his unit. I think that’s why I liked to blow stuff up as a kid.

    He died in 1994. And he never talked about the war except for when he got drunk. From what I understand from my mom, it took a few years for him to get back to a state of equilibrium.
    You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully.

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    TyrannoSuarez Wrecks WrongVerb's Avatar
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    My dad's dad was a pilot in WWII. He had 1.5 kills in combat. As the Japanese advanced east, they overran the island he was stationed at. He was literally in the last plane off the island. Got to spend the remainder of the war in Australia training other pilots.
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    My great-grandmother had 6 children and was a single parent by the start of WW2. The 5 oldest were boys and the first 4 all got drafted. At one point, she had 2 sons who had been shot down over Europe. One was MIA and working with the French Resistance. One was in a German POW camp. Another was in an Army support unit working with the Marines in the “island hopping” campaign in the Pacific. And my grandfather had just deployed on a Destroyer escorting convoys across the North Atlantic, after having gotten my grandmother pregnant just before basic training.

    All the boys made it back more-or-less OK, but great-grandma was never the same. She refused to acknowledge any of the 4 boys once they returned. She would see their wives, baby-sit her grandkids, but would not let her 4 oldest sons on her property.
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    Both my parents were in the Navy during the War. My mother was a Navy nurse and my father a Navy corpsman and they were both stationed at the Norfolk Naval Hospital VD ward. At the time contacting VD was a court martial offense-same as a self inflicted wound. Penicillin was new/rare at the time and it was recycled. One of my father's duties was to boil the patients urine dry and they were able to recover 90% of the penicillin. They hard no idea of the dose require so they gave the patients numerous large dose injections, mother said she had a hard time finding a spot on the patient's butt to get an injection that was not inflamed from previous shots.

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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    Quote Originally Posted by BernieCarbo View Post
    It wasn't that unusual to meet veterans over there, because virtually everyone between 16 and 50 were either part of the allies, the axis, or partisans. But it's true that it was unusual to meet a Stalingrad vet, because the USSR was so closed and you rarely met a Russian, and nearly all of the Germans were either killed or captured, so there weren't many of them either. Even the Hungarian armies were annihilated there. My grandfather was conscripted towards the end by the Germans for the defense of Budapest, but he ended up being captured by the USSR and sent to Siberia to work in forced labor camps to die with hundreds of thousands of others.

    I did meet a lot of former German POWs that spent time in US camps, and they all had the same story- they would work in the fields during the day, were paid for their work, and were treated well.

    They started sending the survivors back in the mid 50s. They even started releasing some pretty high end Nazis. Not soldiers of Wehrmacht but SS men who were known to be part of implementation and processing the final solution. They just figured better to have them rebuild Germany then the Russians. But some of the SS hardcore. Like Joachim Piper got away with murder and continued to get pensions and protection. Piper ended up getting assassinated in 1976 in France I think. There were a lot of scores to settle that didn’t. You either hid in Argentina. Brazil. Paraguay thanks to the rat lines or you went to Egypt or Jordan and helped train the military in covert warfare like they were training them in Germany during the last 6 months of the war.

    My family history unfortunately has more negative then positive. My father had on his mother’s side, she had 2 brothers who are part of Italian Fascist. One who was in Libya. The other part of the Anti Communist Corps in Russia. All we know is that they never lived to talk about it and it was something you never brought up. Especially when we moved to the US. As I loved history and wanted to do a report on the history of fascism in Italy in high school I was told under no circumstances do you talk about that. I wanted to talk about the positive side which was my grandmother and on his dad side who could not stand the bombastic bullS of that movement. Even if the trains ran on time. Suppressing the African population with modern war machines and using outlawed chemical warfare was nothing to be proud of.

    My mother is from Spain and grew up during Franco time. No Falange members that she ever told me about. Just the embarrassment of knowing how her home country sent about 60,000 to the Eastern Front in the Leningrad area under German uniforms under Spanish flags on their uniforms. Franco was willing to do that he just wouldn’t go against the British or let Hitler have access to get at Gibraltar through Spain. He said he’d rather get a root canal then deal with Franco. Her parents told her that they were worried they would get invaded but by the middle of 43 Franco pulled the Blue Division out of Russia. A lot stayed as volunteers but Franco was told it would be in his best interest to stop supporting Hitler.

    This may be part of long ago history but Spain and Italy really like to act sometimes as if they were not as much with Germany then they were. Sure they weren’t proponents of the Holocaust like the puppet state of Croatia was during that time or Hungary. But they don’t get off from any responsibility like they want to. They still have issues especially in Italy with Mussolini lovers. Especially in soccer. Very right wing / left wing depending on the club.

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  29. #15
    Moderator cumberlandreds's Avatar
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    My dad was in Europe. He went over in July of 44. He said it was still rough when he got over there. He drove a half track and was part of a recon unit. He was actually a replacement and was assigned to an Iowa national guard unit that took some heavy casualties just after D-Day. Like most from that era he never talked much about his time there. Sometimes he would open up a little and I think things were rougher than he would let on about. He had talked about being pinned down by mortar fire at night in a cemetery somewhere in Europe. Can you imagine that? He was part of the occupation forces that was there until 1946. He talked about processing refugees as part of his duties. He said it was just pitiful how many of them were when they came through. I'm sure he saw some of the Halocaust victims. He said they would give them soap and they would start trying to eat it.

    He also had a brother that was part of a tank crew in Europe. His tank was hit badly and the tank commander was killed. My uncle was taken prisoner by the Germans and spend the last month of the war as a POW. He was injured pretty badly as he lost a thumb and had scars on big portion of his body.

    When I was growing up WWII veterans were all around me. I'm sure there many good stories there but were never talked about. Now they are all about gone. An end of an era is upon us and we are much the poorer because of it.
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