“As we watched the smoke and fire boiling out of the Franklin we were both angry and helpless,” he said. “I saw battle hardened men, men who had been through many terrible fights, crying like little children. I was one of them. I was 19 years old and scared senseless, but we did our jobs in spite of our fears.”
Another gentleman shared that he had contracted malaria in the pacific theater. He explained that he was at the Solomon Islands and that many American soldiers died not from combat but from malaria. In reality, eight times as many Americans died from malaria and other tropical diseases than from combat. Contracting malaria had made this fine old gentleman so ill that he asked me if he could somehow contract it again.
I told him that the frigid North Country winters protect us from the parasite infected mosquito’s that cause malaria.
“The Japanese were ferocious; they made numerous frontal assaults into our machine guns and mortars,” he said. “To us, they were committing suicide.”
In the end, the Solomons were taken at cost of 3,000 American soldiers and another 10,364 wounded.
“We came home and went back to work and put the war behind us,” he said. “I lost a number of good friends in the war in Europe and in the Pacific. They were, like me, young and wanting to do their duty.”
I have great reverence for these important Americans; we owe them so much for their sacrifices. As American soldiers stood against brutal regimes in Japan and Germany they helped to save the citizens of Europe and the pacific but they were also protecting America. If America had stayed on the sidelines of World war II the outcome of the War might have been different. We must never forget what American soldiers did for us and the world. Returning GIs went to college on the GI Bill, started businesses and helped to create the middle class in America. The list of remarkable Americans that served in World War II is like a “Who’s Who” in America.
With Veterans Day just past, remember all our veterans and if you can visit the local nursing home or hospital if only to honor their service and to say thank you for the many freedoms that we enjoy and too often take for granted.
Remember. All kids count.
Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net