A Veterans Day recollection

“At a time in their lives when their days and nights should have been filled with innocent adventure, love, and the lessons of the workaday world, they were fighting in the most primitive conditions possible across the bloodied landscape of France, Belgium, Italy, Austria, and the coral islands of the Pacific. They answered the call to save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled, instruments of conquest in the hands of fascist maniacs. They faced great odds and a late start, but they did not protest. They succeeded on every front. They won the war; they saved the world.”    — Tom Brokaw in “The Greatest Generation

H.A. Mitchell, decorated hero of the Pacific campaign in World War II

My father joined the Army when he was 16. He lied about his age.

He knew what was coming and was there when it came. He was in Pearl City that Sunday morning in 1941 when World War II began.

He spent the rest of the war hopping from island to island with his artillery unit. He said he chose artillery because he wanted to make a lot of noise.

I know he was in the Philippines about the time the survivors of the Death March of Bataan were rescued. The rest is a blur in my memory, though I recall him telling about how they censored letters home lest they fall into enemy hands and give away troop locations — you couldn’t write that the food was “good enough,” because the ship was at Goodenough Island.

He was a decorated hero, but said he refused to wear the Purple Heart so he wouldn’t have to explain exactly where the wound was located.

When he and his war buddies got together they seldom talked about the fighting, only the antics, like climbing on the hood of a truck and stealing eggs out of the back of another truck as it slowly climbed a steep hill.

But one of his friends once let slip that Dad, a bulldozer operator, actually used a bulldozer blade to deflect bullets while rescuing pinned down soldiers.

To hear him and his friends talk, it seemed like they spilled more beer than blood, but somehow still managed to win the war and save the world.

They are the ones Veterans Day is for.

A version of this was first posted in 2012.

5 comments on “A Veterans Day recollection

  1. Mistrbill says:

    Be it known, most of the Veterans I have known don’t want to relive the wars, only go forward with their families and life. Thanks to them one and all and God Bless America!

  2. Bruce Feher says:


  3. ronknecht says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Mitch, and for your dad, mine and the others.


    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Steve says:

    As a veteran of the Air Force during the invasion of Grenada, I wholeheartedly enjoy reading this story each year.
    And, some of us, kicked ass in Grenada….then had a great clambake on the beach. Or so I heard.

  5. Richard G. Shuster says:

    Remembering all our current Military and Veterans of all eras…rgs

    Together we are Americans

    My eyes are filled and overflow for my brother. Though from different clans, we are together in spirit and in pride and have shared the sacred banner and uniform of freedom, for those of past, we did and do today for all those who will follow in the future.

    Richard G. Shuster (from Rick’s Random Ramblings, Together we are Americans)

    Our Protectors, Our Veterans©

    The lives of some known and many not, have touched us. There’s little difference than found in any other war, with caskets holding their bodies, now come home they to rest. They were our protectors, it is their duty they have done, and they did their best, and again, lives of some known and many not, have touched us. How many times has the “story of stories” been repeated, by millions of families throughout the ages since first spoken? “He gave His only Begotten Son”, rings on and on. May that sacrifice never be forgotten. Likewise, millions of other sons and daughters have been given, as our Protectors, in their service; to God, to country, to family, to community. They, too, gave up their begotten children, their loved ones, for us, for all of us, to never be forgotten. As was His sacrifice, is theirs, our protectors, for the ever living hope of futures bright, we join in humble gratitude, to honor and to comfort all who need. May our protectors, our veterans, never be forgotten.
    In addition to the horrors and ravages of war itself, during each era of our protectors, our veterans, have had to face such issues as we have seen; issues such as radiation, psychedelics, agent orange, chemicals, biological agents and unproven experimental vaccines. It is my belief that it is our ultimate responsibility to do what we can to minimize these types of issues that were unnecessary to have occurred in the first place. We owe our protectors this, too, for all current and future generations. If we do not protect our protectors, our veterans, who indeed, will protect them?
    The health and well being issues of our protectors, our veterans of all eras and of the reserves, guards, and active duty military of today are real. This should be our focus, this should be our purpose, this should be our commitment, and this is what we owe to our protectors, our veterans.
    If we do not protect our protectors, our veterans, who indeed will protect us?

    Richard G. Shuster (from Rick’s Random Ramblings, Our Protectors, Our Veterans©)

    One Veteran’s Pledge©

    When it was my time, I served. My sons served, because I shared with them the value and meaning of serving. I wear the badge of doing the right thing, but also the pain of sending my sons into harms way. Today I can justify that it still is right, but am troubled over the pain my son has and the pain of so many other sons and daughters and the pain of their loved ones, who, like myself, sent them off to war. So, today, I proudly serve our Veterans in the best ways I can. I am an activist for Veterans issues, I honour our standing military and I help with health and well being issues of our Veterans of all Era’s and for the active duty military of today. This is the focus, this is our purpose, this is what we owe to our Veterans.

    Richard G. Shuster (from Rick’s Random Ramblings, One Veteran’s Pledge©)

    A Sailor’s Uniform©

    It seems a long time since this once young sailor wore that uniform,
    but my pride in what it stands for is as new as today?

    Richard G. Shuster (from Rick’s Random Ramblings, A Sailor’s Uniform©)

    Remembering all our current Military and Veterans of all eras…rgs

    Together we are Americans

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