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Thread: Met a WWII Veteran Today

  1. #16
    Did we just become BFF's dubc47834's Avatar
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    I love WWII vets. My grandfather is one, he was wounded in the Philippines and sent home. He is 97 y/o and still remembers it like it was yesterday. I love going over to his house and listening to his stories he tells, even tho it's generally the same 4-5 every time. Listening to his stories makes me realize that war was so much more personal back in those days. He was the reason I served 22 years. Every time it came up for me to re-enlist and I had doubts, I would talk to him. He always told me to do what I had to, but then he would say how proud he was. LOL...he knew what he was doing! I have so much respect for that generation of Soldiers. What they went thru was hell. When I thought I had it rough, I would try to think about those guys. Whether it was in the cold German woods in the middle of winter, living in trenches for extended time, or just waiting on resupply of food and water. Our Soldiers now days are doing pretty well. I know my grandfather doesn't have much time left...I will miss his stories the most!!!
    A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor!

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  4. #17
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    Quote Originally Posted by dubc47834 View Post
    I love WWII vets. My grandfather is one, he was wounded in the Philippines and sent home. He is 97 y/o and still remembers it like it was yesterday. I love going over to his house and listening to his stories he tells, even tho it's generally the same 4-5 every time. Listening to his stories makes me realize that war was so much more personal back in those days. He was the reason I served 22 years. Every time it came up for me to re-enlist and I had doubts, I would talk to him. He always told me to do what I had to, but then he would say how proud he was. LOL...he knew what he was doing! I have so much respect for that generation of Soldiers. What they went thru was hell. When I thought I had it rough, I would try to think about those guys. Whether it was in the cold German woods in the middle of winter, living in trenches for extended time, or just waiting on resupply of food and water. Our Soldiers now days are doing pretty well. I know my grandfather doesn't have much time left...I will miss his stories the most!!!
    Have you thought about recording him? Maybe you already have, but it wold be cool for your descendants.

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    Member Sea Ray's Avatar
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    My grandfather was in his mid 40s and served as a doctor in the South Pacific. He didn't talk about it much but I know he vowed to never buy a Japanese car and said the Japanese had no value for life. As a prisoner, you'd much prefer to be captured by the Germans
    Last edited by Sea Ray; 06-08-2021 at 09:53 AM.

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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    Quote Originally Posted by BernieCarbo View Post
    Have you thought about recording him? Maybe you already have, but it wold be cool for your descendants.
    I have not thought of that...it's an excellent idea tho. I'm going over there this weekend. I may ask him about it...THANKS!!!
    A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor!

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    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    Quote Originally Posted by Sea Ray View Post
    My grandfather was in his mid 40s and served as a doctor in the South Pacific. He didn't talk about it much but I know he vowed to never buy a Japanese car and said the Japanese had no value for life. As a prisoner, you'd much prefer to be captured by the Germans
    My dad always called them “goddamn Japs” (excuse the slur). And he too vowed to never buy any <previous slur> junk. I guess when someone is trying to kill you while not valuing their own life, it makes for some pretty awful times and scarred and bitter emotions. One of the stories he did tell was burning piles of dead Japanese, they made sure to strip off the ammo because it would cook off in the fire and “you didn’t want to get killed by a dead <previous slur”. The battles in the Marianas were particularly savage. The Japanese soldiers knew the war was lost, they weren’t going to get rescued off the island, so they fought to the absolute bitter end. Any war is terrible, but when your enemy knows they are going to die and they are going to take down as many of you as they can, it makes for savagery. Pretty awful.
    True Yodas are never young.

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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Tucker View Post
    My dad always called them “goddamn Japs” (excuse the slur). And he too vowed to never buy any <previous slur> junk. I guess when someone is trying to kill you while not valuing their own life, it makes for some pretty awful times and scarred and bitter emotions. One of the stories he did tell was burning piles of dead Japanese, they made sure to strip off the ammo because it would cook off in the fire and “you didn’t want to get killed by a dead <previous slur”. The battles in the Marianas were particularly savage. The Japanese soldiers knew the war was lost, they weren’t going to get rescued off the island, so they fought to the absolute bitter end. Any war is terrible, but when your enemy knows they are going to die and they are going to take down as many of you as they can, it makes for savagery. Pretty awful.

    My father in law from the first Mrs. RFS62 might have known your dad. He got shot up pretty good on the Iwo Jima landing.
    It's not denial. I'm just very selective about the reality I accept. ~ Calvin

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    Member Sea Ray's Avatar
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    My grandfather might have treated your soldier ancestors on the island of Tinian in the Marianas. He said that the Japanese would surrender by holding their arms up and live grenades would fall out of their armpits

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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Cloninger View Post
    They started sending the survivors back in the mid 50s.
    Funny you mention that. Sorry for the long post, but I’ll relate something that happened to our family.

    After I got out of the Army, I stayed in Europe because there was no work in the US at the time. I spent about four months traveling around playing music, and then one day I called my mother to ask her where my grandfather was from. She told me, and then asked why. I told her I’d like to travel to Hungary and see if there is anyone left that may have known our family, or at least take some pictures of some gravestones or something.

    She said, “Don’t you go there! I know you, you’re going to say something and they’ll lock you up and we’ll never get you out!”

    I said, “Ok, mom”, and then went to the Hungarian consulate to apply for a visa, and then to the train station to look at train schedules. Three weeks later I got off the train at 9:30 AM, and at 10:00 AM I was being questioned in the police chief’s office.

    I had gone to the station originally because back then if you were a visitor you had to go to the police every day and get your visa stamped and show them where you spent your money. I walked in and went up to the woman at the front desk and said, “English? German? French?” She just looked at me and said, “Russland?” “Nope, no Russian, sorry”, and I handed her my passport and visa. She motioned me to wait and then disappeared. In a few minutes a police officer came and said, “You speak German? What are you doing here?”

    I explained that my grandfather came from this town, and I just wanted to see if I might still have some distant relatives or maybe see the house where he grew up. He told me to wait.

    A few minutes later he led me to the police chief’s office, and I had my bag and guitar in tow. The chief was as broad as he was tall and he was holding my papers, and then he put them in his desk drawer. I tell you, they could have been in a vault a hundred feet underground, because that’s about how accessible my passport was right then.

    The German speaking officer served as the translator and the chief asked why I came there. I repeated the same thing and just said my grandfather came from there, yada, yada. He asked if I was American then why did I have a French name, and what I did in the military, and all kinds of things.

    Then a couple of other officers came in, and they started searching through my stuff. They went through my bag, and then opened my guitar case. They stuck a light and mirror inside the guitar and looked all around, and then it came to me that they were looking for drugs! Now, I’ve never used drugs, so I wasn’t worried about that anyway. Then the chief said something and the translator said, “He wants to know if you are a spy.”

    I must have looked baffled, and I wanted to say, “Oh, I thought you were looking for drugs”, but I didn’t bring that up. I said, “No, I really am here to see if I have any family left. That’s the truth.”

    They talked back and forth, and the officer said, “He wants you to play the guitar.”

    I picked it up, and as luck would have it I was on a big Neil Young kick and it was set to drop D turning because I had been practicing “Ohio”. Playing a song in Hungary for the police about government troops shooting civilians was definitely not a good idea, so I started tuning it. The translator said, “He wants to know if you are nervous.”

    I must have looked nervous, but I said, “No, I play the guitar to prove I’m not a spy all the time,” but the chief was not amused.

    I was ready, and said, “I don’t know any Hungarian songs, but maybe you like country. This one’s called “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard, and people love it back home.”

    I kicked it off, and after the first verse I realized it was a song about going to prison, and I hoped to God he didn’t really speak fluent English and was thinking I was making fun of him.

    He held up his hand for me to stop and they talked again. The officer turned to me and said, “He asks again if you are a spy.”

    Now I was getting concerned, and I said, “No, but I guess I must be a terrible guitar player.”

    They talked some more, and the officer said, “Write down everything about you, your name, your mother and father’s names, birth dates, addresses, everything.”

    “Ok, but you have all of that information in my passport and visa.”

    They spoke again, and the officer said, “He says then it should be easy for you to remember.” So I sat down and wrote it all down and they told me to wait in the lobby. They started to secure my things, but I asked if I could at least hold onto my guitar, because it’s the only thing I cared about and they had my money and passport and pictures anyway and I couldn’t go anywhere. The chief nodded. Also, I found out much later (and this is how I met the Russian soldiers I talked about above) that there was a small Soviet base nearby, and they felt it was way too much of a coincidence that I’d come strolling into town out of nowhere like that.

    I sat out in the lobby and the officer had been assigned to keep an eye on me. I tried to make small talk and told him to ask the woman behind the counter if she’d like to hear a song. He said nobody wanted to hear a song, but I was getting restless and looked out the window, and saw a bench.

    “Hey, at least let me sit on that bench. I won’t be bothering anybody, and you can come out too and guard me, and the weather’s nice. I’ll bet that woman will be glad to get rid of me too. Otherwise I’m just going to keep on talking.”

    He agreed, and I sat on the bench and played my guitar and occasionally someone would walk by and I’d say hello. Then these three schoolgirls came by carrying their books, and you know whenever there are three girls, one will be the leader, and they stopped and the leader said something to me. I said, “I have no idea what you just said, but if you have a request, I’ll do my best.”

    They looked at me like I was an alien from outer space. They had never heard anyone speak English before, not even on the radio or on a record. I pointed to the police officer and asked him to explain why I’m there. He took this totally official stance and said something to them, and they just looked back at me kind of puzzled.

    I looked at him and said, “What did you tell them?”

    “I said you were lost and we are trying to help you.”

    “Lost? You can’t tell them that! That makes me look like an idiot. Tell them I’m a famous musician from America.”

    “I will not tell them that.”

    “Then tell them the truth, that I’m just here to look for family. That isn’t bad, is it? I’d help you out if you needed it.”

    I could tell he wanted me gone in the worst way, but he explained it to the girls and then they looked at me and nodded and smiled, and I played them a couple of songs. Then, two police cars rolled up, with the chief in one of them.

    The officer said, “Get in”, and the leader of the girls quickly wrote her name down and stuck it in my shirt pocket. I got in the car and we took off.

    We got to a little house in the outskirts of town and the chief had me get out and wait. Two of the cops went to the door and a couple came out, and the woman started to freak out. I guess that’s universal, because no one anywhere wants the cops to come knocking. One cop held her back and the other led the man up to the chief where he showed him my papers and the few photographs I brought.

    The man walked up to me and said, “You speak German?”

    “Yes, did you know my grandfather?”

    “Where did you get these pictures?”

    “I brought them from home. See, that’s me, my mom, my dad, siblings, my grandmother. Here’s a picture of our house, and my dog.”

    “If you’re lying to me, I’ll kill you.”

    “Hey, I’m not lying! You don’t have to kill anyone. Who are you anyway?”

    “If you aren’t lying, then I’m your grandfather, but my family is dead, so you’re lying.”

    “Well, we’re in the same boat, because everyone thinks you’re dead too.”

    We started comparing notes, and it turns out that he was taken to Budapest in 1945 by the Germans for the defense against the Russians, but was captured and taken to a labor camp in Siberia, and didn’t come back until 1953. He tried and tried to find his family but there was no trace, so eventually he married a younger girl and started a new family, and he had two sons younger than me. At the time he was captured, my grandmother and her three children had made it back to her hometown in southern Hungary, but she was told that he was killed during the encirclement and because they were ethnic Germans (that’s why he knew German, although he was not ethnic), they were forced out after the war. They were sent to a refugee camp in Germany in the American sector, but two of my mom’s siblings died of tuberculosis there. I guess the conditions were terrible there. By 1950 my mother and grandmother were living in Frankfurt, and my father got stationed there. They met, they ended up getting married, and they both emigrated to the US with my dad in ‘52.

    Finally he was convinced and I was convinced, and it was so surreal, looking back. It was a terrible burden to unload on an old man (he was 69 years old at the time and this was 1974), and it was definitely bittersweet. He thought everyone was dead all these years, but finding out that two kids died the way they did and how he missed almost 30 years of knowing that mom was OK and then finding out his wife had been alive for over twenty years was definitely hard.

    We had a lot of catching up to do, but one funny thing was as we were walking back towards his house after I settled up with the chief, I took that note out that the girl gave me and told him if he knew where she lived, it would be nice if he told her how this turned out because she seemed concerned. He looked at it and said, “You are here for a few hours and a girl gives you her name and address. You are definitely my grandson.” We had so many good times after that.

    He and I became very close and I did the best I could to keep visiting him until he finally passed on. The whole thing with the Cold War complicated things tremendously, but my mom and dad and older brother managed to go visit him twice. But the thing that struck me the most was that no matter where I went in Europe, nearly every family I met had been torn apart in one way or another during the war. There was no escaping it.

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  15. #24
    Strategery RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    Quote Originally Posted by BernieCarbo View Post
    Funny you mention that. Sorry for the long post, but I’ll relate something that happened to our family.

    After I got out of the Army, I stayed in Europe because there was no work in the US at the time. I spent about four months traveling around playing music, and then one day I called my mother to ask her where my grandfather was from. She told me, and then asked why. I told her I’d like to travel to Hungary and see if there is anyone left that may have known our family, or at least take some pictures of some gravestones or something.

    She said, “Don’t you go there! I know you, you’re going to say something and they’ll lock you up and we’ll never get you out!”

    I said, “Ok, mom”, and then went to the Hungarian consulate to apply for a visa, and then to the train station to look at train schedules. Three weeks later I got off the train at 9:30 AM, and at 10:00 AM I was being questioned in the police chief’s office.

    I had gone to the station originally because back then if you were a visitor you had to go to the police every day and get your visa stamped and show them where you spent your money. I walked in and went up to the woman at the front desk and said, “English? German? French?” She just looked at me and said, “Russland?” “Nope, no Russian, sorry”, and I handed her my passport and visa. She motioned me to wait and then disappeared. In a few minutes a police officer came and said, “You speak German? What are you doing here?”

    I explained that my grandfather came from this town, and I just wanted to see if I might still have some distant relatives or maybe see the house where he grew up. He told me to wait.

    A few minutes later he led me to the police chief’s office, and I had my bag and guitar in tow. The chief was as broad as he was tall and he was holding my papers, and then he put them in his desk drawer. I tell you, they could have been in a vault a hundred feet underground, because that’s about how accessible my passport was right then.

    The German speaking officer served as the translator and the chief asked why I came there. I repeated the same thing and just said my grandfather came from there, yada, yada. He asked if I was American then why did I have a French name, and what I did in the military, and all kinds of things.

    Then a couple of other officers came in, and they started searching through my stuff. They went through my bag, and then opened my guitar case. They stuck a light and mirror inside the guitar and looked all around, and then it came to me that they were looking for drugs! Now, I’ve never used drugs, so I wasn’t worried about that anyway. Then the chief said something and the translator said, “He wants to know if you are a spy.”

    I must have looked baffled, and I wanted to say, “Oh, I thought you were looking for drugs”, but I didn’t bring that up. I said, “No, I really am here to see if I have any family left. That’s the truth.”

    They talked back and forth, and the officer said, “He wants you to play the guitar.”

    I picked it up, and as luck would have it I was on a big Neil Young kick and it was set to drop D turning because I had been practicing “Ohio”. Playing a song in Hungary for the police about government troops shooting civilians was definitely not a good idea, so I started tuning it. The translator said, “He wants to know if you are nervous.”

    I must have looked nervous, but I said, “No, I play the guitar to prove I’m not a spy all the time,” but the chief was not amused.

    I was ready, and said, “I don’t know any Hungarian songs, but maybe you like country. This one’s called “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard, and people love it back home.”

    I kicked it off, and after the first verse I realized it was a song about going to prison, and I hoped to God he didn’t really speak fluent English and was thinking I was making fun of him.

    He held up his hand for me to stop and they talked again. The officer turned to me and said, “He asks again if you are a spy.”

    Now I was getting concerned, and I said, “No, but I guess I must be a terrible guitar player.”

    They talked some more, and the officer said, “Write down everything about you, your name, your mother and father’s names, birth dates, addresses, everything.”

    “Ok, but you have all of that information in my passport and visa.”

    They spoke again, and the officer said, “He says then it should be easy for you to remember.” So I sat down and wrote it all down and they told me to wait in the lobby. They started to secure my things, but I asked if I could at least hold onto my guitar, because it’s the only thing I cared about and they had my money and passport and pictures anyway and I couldn’t go anywhere. The chief nodded. Also, I found out much later (and this is how I met the Russian soldiers I talked about above) that there was a small Soviet base nearby, and they felt it was way too much of a coincidence that I’d come strolling into town out of nowhere like that.

    I sat out in the lobby and the officer had been assigned to keep an eye on me. I tried to make small talk and told him to ask the woman behind the counter if she’d like to hear a song. He said nobody wanted to hear a song, but I was getting restless and looked out the window, and saw a bench.

    “Hey, at least let me sit on that bench. I won’t be bothering anybody, and you can come out too and guard me, and the weather’s nice. I’ll bet that woman will be glad to get rid of me too. Otherwise I’m just going to keep on talking.”

    He agreed, and I sat on the bench and played my guitar and occasionally someone would walk by and I’d say hello. Then these three schoolgirls came by carrying their books, and you know whenever there are three girls, one will be the leader, and they stopped and the leader said something to me. I said, “I have no idea what you just said, but if you have a request, I’ll do my best.”

    They looked at me like I was an alien from outer space. They had never heard anyone speak English before, not even on the radio or on a record. I pointed to the police officer and asked him to explain why I’m there. He took this totally official stance and said something to them, and they just looked back at me kind of puzzled.

    I looked at him and said, “What did you tell them?”

    “I said you were lost and we are trying to help you.”

    “Lost? You can’t tell them that! That makes me look like an idiot. Tell them I’m a famous musician from America.”

    “I will not tell them that.”

    “Then tell them the truth, that I’m just here to look for family. That isn’t bad, is it? I’d help you out if you needed it.”

    I could tell he wanted me gone in the worst way, but he explained it to the girls and then they looked at me and nodded and smiled, and I played them a couple of songs. Then, two police cars rolled up, with the chief in one of them.

    The officer said, “Get in”, and the leader of the girls quickly wrote her name down and stuck it in my shirt pocket. I got in the car and we took off.

    We got to a little house in the outskirts of town and the chief had me get out and wait. Two of the cops went to the door and a couple came out, and the woman started to freak out. I guess that’s universal, because no one anywhere wants the cops to come knocking. One cop held her back and the other led the man up to the chief where he showed him my papers and the few photographs I brought.

    The man walked up to me and said, “You speak German?”

    “Yes, did you know my grandfather?”

    “Where did you get these pictures?”

    “I brought them from home. See, that’s me, my mom, my dad, siblings, my grandmother. Here’s a picture of our house, and my dog.”

    “If you’re lying to me, I’ll kill you.”

    “Hey, I’m not lying! You don’t have to kill anyone. Who are you anyway?”

    “If you aren’t lying, then I’m your grandfather, but my family is dead, so you’re lying.”

    “Well, we’re in the same boat, because everyone thinks you’re dead too.”

    We started comparing notes, and it turns out that he was taken to Budapest in 1945 by the Germans for the defense against the Russians, but was captured and taken to a labor camp in Siberia, and didn’t come back until 1953. He tried and tried to find his family but there was no trace, so eventually he married a younger girl and started a new family, and he had two sons younger than me. At the time he was captured, my grandmother and her three children had made it back to her hometown in southern Hungary, but she was told that he was killed during the encirclement and because they were ethnic Germans (that’s why he knew German, although he was not ethnic), they were forced out after the war. They were sent to a refugee camp in Germany in the American sector, but two of my mom’s siblings died of tuberculosis there. I guess the conditions were terrible there. By 1950 my mother and grandmother were living in Frankfurt, and my father got stationed there. They met, they ended up getting married, and they both emigrated to the US with my dad in ‘52.

    Finally he was convinced and I was convinced, and it was so surreal, looking back. It was a terrible burden to unload on an old man (he was 69 years old at the time and this was 1974), and it was definitely bittersweet. He thought everyone was dead all these years, but finding out that two kids died the way they did and how he missed almost 30 years of knowing that mom was OK and then finding out his wife had been alive for over twenty years was definitely hard.

    We had a lot of catching up to do, but one funny thing was as we were walking back towards his house after I settled up with the chief, I took that note out that the girl gave me and told him if he knew where she lived, it would be nice if he told her how this turned out because she seemed concerned. He looked at it and said, “You are here for a few hours and a girl gives you her name and address. You are definitely my grandson.” We had so many good times after that.

    He and I became very close and I did the best I could to keep visiting him until he finally passed on. The whole thing with the Cold War complicated things tremendously, but my mom and dad and older brother managed to go visit him twice. But the thing that struck me the most was that no matter where I went in Europe, nearly every family I met had been torn apart in one way or another during the war. There was no escaping it.


    Extraordinary!!!

    Thanks for sharing that!!
    It's not denial. I'm just very selective about the reality I accept. ~ Calvin

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    Tony Cloninger (06-11-2021)

  17. #25
    Member adkindo's Avatar
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    Re: Met a WWII Veteran Today

    Watched the 3 part documentary on the History Channel last week "The Titans That Built America", and most of the information provided was fairly common knowledge to anyone that has watched similar docs in the past. They did have some cool footage of the new recruits after Pearl Harbor training with wooden guns and artillery. I have read about how so many young men raced to sign up for the military after the attack, and the military had so little weapons and supplies, many guys were forced to use wooden weapons throughout their training. That was the first film clips I had seen of it.

    We were so unprepared we sent many young men to a certain death early on as they were not trained sufficiently, nor did they have adequate equipment compared to the Germans and Japanese The initial guys that were sent into Northern Africa had almost no chance of success. We caught up quickly in the next few years, but too many had to fight an unfair battle. It is a lesson that I hope we never forget because we can and should always have healthy debates on the amount of spending on national defense, but we should never find ourselves in an inferior military position to our global threats.....because young men and women will pay a stiff price.
    “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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    Tony Cloninger (06-11-2021)


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