Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let There Be A Lesson In The Words Of Mark Twain, Who Seems To Have A Handle On Who Is The Real Patriot

"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."
~ Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935

The pictures on this post are of my step-father Frank, who served our country as part of the United States Army during World War II.He first landed in Bizerte, Tunisia on the northern tip of the African continent. From that location, he went to Tunis (the capital city of Tunisia) and then east to Oran, a city in Algeria that lies on the Mediterranean Sea. While in Africa, he fought under General George S. Patton.

From North Africa, they crossed the Mediterranean, heading over to Palermo, Sicily. After spending some time in Sicily, they made their way into Italy, up the western coast of "the boot" to fight under General Mark W. Clark in the Battle of Monte Cassino.

After that, the troops continued even further north to take part in the Allied invasion of southern France on August 15, 1944.
As if that invasion wasn't enough, he moved with his troops into the Ardennes mountain region of France, Luxembourg and Belgium to take part in the Battle of the Bulge. You can read about it in more detail here, in a book by Hugh M. Cole.

In the picture below, he's posing with his brother Benny who was serving in an artillery unit at the same time. Frank was 23, Benny was 21. When he discovered his brother's unit was in the area, he went to his commanding officer to ask if they could look him up and let him know where exactly they were positioned. His commander said he couldn't do that but if he wanted, while Frank was out on his patrols, he was welcome to look for him.

So, that's exactly what Frank did. When he found his unit, he approached Benny's commanding officer to ask his brother's whereabouts. The commander took him over to Benny's tent and hollered, "Get your ass out here! You have someone who wants to see you." Benny exited the tent with his head down, but when he looked up and saw his brother there, they quickly embraced each other with tears in their eyes.

Benny's commanding officer allowed him to go on patrol with Frank, but while they were out there, they encountered mortar fire.

Later, when Benny told the story, he said that Frank turned the jeep around so fast, the wheels never touched the ground. Frank said the only thing on his mind as he maneuvered to get them out of there was the thought of his mother being notified that two of her sons had been killed. He couldn't allow that to happen. Below is a picture of Frank and Benny relaxing in Benny's tent after they got back from that patrol.

While in France, his platoon was asked to provide protection for Ingrid Bergman, who was there to entertain the troops. My step-father was chosen (perhaps for his strapping height, perhaps for his smoldering Italian good looks) to be her personal escort.From France it was on to Germany; by then the war was almost over. Once they left Germany, they spent some time in Denmark and then headed home to the good old U.S. of A. He told me that he and his comrades were the first to go home since they had already been overseas for three years. Finally home! He has so many stories, some he tells freely and others he keeps to himself, but they are all interesting. Fascinating, really. I'm glad he was one of the lucky ones who made it home.

I called him today to specifically thank him for fighting for our country. He was gruff as usual and brushed it off with a few choice words. I laughed and told him that although I was letting him off the hook now, one of these days, I was going to pry more details out of him.

Especially the ones of his romantic escapades with those French girls!

A Special Thanks to all our Veterans. We appreciate your service.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Sometimes The Nights Just Fly By
Who Thought Putting These Two Words Together Was A Good Idea?
We Would All Go Down Together
Missing Me?


Gil said...

One of the best Veteran's Day stories I've read in a long time! Thanks!

Anonymous said... are an amazingly talented writer...I love you VERY much...thanks for the tribute...your Ladder-Dad!

Leigh Hutchens Burch said...

Lovely post!

I wish my Pappaw was still around to tell me the stories that I had zero interest in asking about when I was fifteen.

Thanks for sharing those amazing old photos with us. It's quite a tribute to those who paved the way for our freedom.