Blog Entry

Our Soldiers

Posted on: November 10, 2008 8:16 pm

There was an elderly gentleman who lived down the street from me in Las Vegas. I hadn't paid much attention to him for the first couple of years that we live close together, I would just see him sitting out on his porch or walking his Yorkshire Terrier from time to time. That was about it.

One friday afternoon, I saw him going through some things in his garage and stopped to see if he needed any help with what he was doing. He said "No, he was doing fine, but thanks anyway". I started to leave but something caught my eye and I couldn't help but mention the object to him. It was a rather large Nazi flag that looked almost new. I asked him about it and he seemed to not want to talk about it. I just stood there looking him straight in the eyes and he said it was a trophy he had taken from a POW Camp he had been in during the last weeks of WWII. I said "Really?", and he began to tell me about how he had been captured in the Colmer pocket. He was getting tired after about 20 minutes of conversation so I bade him good bye and left. The nest day I noticed he was having a garage sale and stopped by to see what he had. The stuff in the garage was the usual stuff you find at garage sales all over the country, nothing much to get excited about. It was what was in the house that got my blood pumping through my veins, however.

There on the wall was a very large box frame with the medals and decorations this unseemingly humble man had hanging on his living room wall. I couldn't believe my eyes. There in front of me were more medals than I had ever seen from one man and being an Army Brat, I have seen my share.

At the top of the frame were patches of the 45th Division, The Thunderbirds, Master Sargeant stripes and a 5th Army patch. Below them was a lone medal - the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest medal for bravery in the U.S. Military. Below that were 5 Silver Stars and below those hung 6 Bronze Stars with "V" Devices signifying they were awarded for valor. Below that were 5 Purple hearts. Below that were the usual medals given for anyone who served in combat in Europe during the war. There was also a POW Medal that had obviously been added recently.

In another smaller box frame there were foreign decorations including the French Croix d Guerre in the grade of Chevalier. There were other French and English decorations that I did not recognize. In yet another boz frame were another Silver Star, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Above them was a solitary CIB with a star in the wreath, meaning the award had been awarded twice. To most soldiers who have been in combat, the CBI is the only award worth having as it indicates you have been in the line of enemy fire and have returned that fire. Below the Silver, Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart were some other medals from the South Korean Government, including the Korean Medal of Honor (I can't remember it's name - "Tak" something.

In any case, here was an old man that had been awarded the second highest award for bravery once, the third highest award for bravery 6 times, the fourth highest award for bravery 7 times, 6 Purple Hearts for having been wounded 6 different times, France's second highest award for gallantry, S. Korea's Medal of Honor and all the other decorations displayed in those cases and no one knew this man even existed outside his family.

You can talk and read all about America's heroes from all the wars fought over the years and centuries but to my way of thinking this old, stooped man was the quintessential hero of this country. A single act of heroism can get a person America's Medal of Honor, the highest award there is. How that medal pales in the gleeming light of this old man's display.

Heros? There is the kind of hero movies should be made about - books written about - and statues erected for.

That, readers, is what I call a real HERO.

Category: General

Since: Sep 23, 2006
Posted on: December 12, 2008 1:19 pm

Our Soldiers

This isn't my thread Hat6creek but I'm certain your respect is enough. Those men and women gave much but didn't ask for a lot. I'm sure respect is all that's required to put a smile on their faces. I was in a different war and you put one on mine.

Thanks and Happy Holidays.

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: December 12, 2008 12:07 pm

Our Soldiers

Like Cat, I'm having a tough time trying to come up with anything remotely worthy to offer as a response. I guess my heartfelt thanks to this man and the countless others like him will have to do.

It's very sad that we are rapidly losing so many members of our greatest generation. We could sure use their wisdom, character and guidance right now. 

Since: Sep 23, 2006
Posted on: November 12, 2008 9:21 pm

Our Soldiers

Hello folks, I read your interest in war heros. if you're interested in true stories, and happen to like old black & white movies I have one for you. Sergeant York is a 1941 classic movie and tells the story of Alvin York. He was a Tennessee sharpshooting hillbilly that didn't believe in war and tried to avoid it on religious grounds. Failing that he went and came back the greatest war hero of WW I. He won the Metal of Honor among others. The cast of the movie will be a lot of familiar faces if you happen to be in your mid life, or later. It's historically accurate and entertaining if you're the relaxed type. It stars Gary Cooper as Alvin. I'd recommend it if you run across it on late night classic's. It might be hard to find it on DVD's, I don't know for sure. It's an amazing story in several ways. Just thought I'd offer it to you.

Since: Aug 15, 2006
Posted on: November 12, 2008 2:16 pm

Our Soldiers

Agreed Art, this man is a hero.  But he like hundreds before him, don't want the publicity, for men like this feel the real heros are those that did not come home from the battles.  They are proud of what they did but to these men and women it is nothing to write about or to make money over. 

Glad you were able to meet such an individual.  And I bet if you asked what he was the most proud of, it probably would have been something like this:  "I get to live in the Greatest Nation in the World"  That is what most of these Hero's really feel, they are not bitter but proud they were able to serve their country.

Since: Jun 27, 2007
Posted on: November 10, 2008 10:01 pm

Our Soldiers

I wanted to leave a comment, but I'm not entirely sure what to write;  I'm feeling rather speechless.  That is truly an amazing story.

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