A long pause of breath escapes his lips, his eyes wander into the distance and he recalls the moments he is about to share. Age has taken over his face and body, making his movements slower and wrinkles more defined, but the memory of the time spent over seas still rings crystal clear in his mind. Sitting in his green armchair, a color it is obvious he didn’t choose, however surrounded by perfectly matching décor the living room is only a small example of the man’s willingness to please his lovely wife. Sitting in her own matching armchair next to her husband of more than 60 years she turns to listen to the story he has began again to tell, (for her perhaps the one hundredth time hearing it).
“Well, the infantry boys and I were all sitting in this booth at a bar in Japan while we were stationed there, and across the way sitting at a table were a group of artillery boys. We’d been giving each other hell since we’d sat down. You see, the infantry boys and the artillery division, never really had gotten along. Always been a bit of bad blood between them, mainly because us infantry boys had to trudge through the mess of it on foot and work our tails off all day, while the artillery boys just sat around and drove their jeeps and trucks into enemy territory. And the artillery guys always thought we just hung out in our trenches all day waiting for them to come with the artillery.
So, there we were sitting in a little Japanese bar giving the artillery boys a piece of our mind when one in particular decides he’s tough enough to take us. Well, being young and thinking I was just as tough, I stood up and said ‘why don’t you come on over here and try’. Well the problem with that was I was sitting on the inside seat of the booth against a floor-to-ceiling glass window. And as my whole 5 foot 8 inch body stands up to give it to this artillery boy he stands up to be about 6 foot tall with a wingspan about twice that. He just reached across the table and knocked me a good one. Flung me clear out the window and onto the street, from there the fight was on. The whole bar was a storm of army uniforms and fists. No sooner than I hit the ground outside but I jump right up to head back in there and finish my half off. Well the way the bar was built, he had knocked me through the window and onto the street and in order to get back in I had to run down the sidewalk and around the corner of the building to get to the main doors, which were right on the corner of the bar like an old-time saloon. So I jumped up and started high-tailing it down the walkway, I skidded around the corner only to run smack dab into a group of MP’s.
‘Uh, what’s going on?’ I said to the one I had nearly knocked over. “Well there’s a fight in there and we’re about to take care of it. You know anything about this?” He asked me. ‘No, I sure don’t. Boy I sure don’t want to go in there then.’ And I turned around and headed back to camp right then! Everyone of them guys ended up being brought up on disciplinary acts,” the old man laughed as he finished his story.
Over the years I’ve heard that specific story a number of times. It has grown to be one of my favorite stories my grandpa has shared with us about his years spent in the military during the Korean Conflict, (and just FYI to my grandpa it was a war, not a conflict). I’m not exactly sure why that’s one of my favorites, I think perhaps it’s because it seems kind of care-free to be a war story. Where as when he talks about missions, and the time he was wounded those stories are more hard-hitting war stories. He doesn’t share much about his time spent in war, although as he gets older he has started to share more and more. Usually it’s things like this or about how he was wounded and awarded a Purple Heart. He share’s a lot about the logistics of Korea and the area he was stationed. He shares about how as a Sergeant he spent many nights in Korea on night patrol. He talks about taking control of a hill and village every night, only to fall back every morning let the enemy forces take it for the day, then turn around and retake it again the next night. They had to do that all because of some ridiculous “no advancement” rule that was passed. Or they would have to go on patrols across the two mile “No Man’s Land” into the enemy zone “just to make sure they were still there”, according to Grandpa. Or a specific instance when he and a fellow soldier went to ambush and capture a North Korean, the other soldier borrowed a Tommy Gun from a tank driver, but the only thing my grandpa was armed with was a can of frozen hash inside of a sock. But, very rarely does he share the gruesome details about the war, as I assume most veterans don’t either. Now I’ve never served, so I don’t know what it’s like to fight for my country, risk my own life and take others. But I would assume if I ever did make that courageous sacrifice those gruesome memories wouldn’t be the ones I share either. I think in a lot of cases the veterans don’t want to remember the bad parts of war, as I’m sure there are many. But I also know my grandpa is very proud of his service and the service of those who have followed him. Although there are things he doesn’t like to share or to remember, he is proud of his time spent serving this great nation. He is proud of the ultimate result of his sacrifice, our freedom!
So, in honor of Veterans Day and every single man or woman who is serving, has served, or will serve in the future I would like to take this moment to say Thank You. We are all forever in your debt.