My Dad served in WWII. He celebrated his 84th birthday earlier this month. The veterans of this war are dying, some 400 per day. I heard this statistic when Tom Hanks presented his tribute to the veterans of WWII with the "Band of Brothers" mini series broadcast on HMO.
My Dad weighed four pounds when he was born. The odds for his survival in 1919 were slim. The odds were against him when he enlisted. He had to trick the doctor during his physical to pass and be inducted into the Army.
I wish I had paid closer attention to my Dad's war stories. The stories are now trapped in his brain, held captive by dementia associated with the aging process. So my memories of the incidents may be sketchy.
While in basic training, the Air Force claimed my father to spearhead a special secret project. He had scored extremely high on the admitting IQ test, and subsequently was needed to put together and coordinate the truck operation for the Normandy Invasion.
Upon completion of the project he stayed with the 101st Airborne Division. He flew into battle with them. When it was time to line up to parachute out, he took his place in line. He heard his name called, and ordered to fall out. Because he was Army, and not Air Force, the Army had ordered for him to stay behind.
Everyone of the men who made the jump that day did not return.
This is one of the many stories my father had to tell of his experiences in the War. The horror, artocities, bravery and heroism were just as prevalent to the men who served in WWII as those wars and/or "police actions" that followed.
This generation of men defined bravery.