Join Date: Oct 2001
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Re: O/T: In honor of December 7th...
Before my grandpa passed away at age 83 in 1999, I called him every veterans day and Pearl Harbor day. He served in the US Army during the Second World War. He fought on Okinawa, Saipan and Tinian (his unit was also the extras in the movie "The Story of GI Joe" with Robert Mitchum and Burgess Merdith--I have an 8x10 company picture signed by those two notables with my grandpa visible in the very back row!). He was presented the Purple Heart for catching a shell fragment when the Jeep he was driving was hit by artillery--the officer he was driving didn't make it. I think of him now on those days when I used to call him. Now that I live far from my folks, I call my dad (who fought in Vietnam) just to say hi on those days.
I have a couple of small stories to relate regarding the Arizona Memorial. The first is second hand from the guy who saw it happen. Pat works with my father. He visited Hawaii a couple of years ago with his wife on vacation. While they were touring the Arizona Memorial the tour was being conducted man that was of Japanese descent. The tour evidently starts at an ampitheater where they give the history of December 7th before taking everyone to the actual memorial. Also taking the tour was a group of High School students. One of the students was chewing tobacco and spit on the floor. The tour guide set down the microphone, left the podium and walked up to the kid, ignoring his teachers. He informed him politely that he had just spat on Hollowed Ground. He told the kid to clean it up and get out. Though the request was polite, the kid evidently decided not to argue (I bet there were some HEAVY undercurrents there!) and cleaned up his mess and left...and his teachers just watched! Pat later told me that it was a good thing that the kid hadn't made it to the memorial....he figured the tour guide would have killed him if he had spat on the actual memorial!
The second story is about my great-uncle Fred Watkins. He was a Navy co'xn assigned to Pearl. After the Japanese attacked, he was running a stern tiller utility boat (we believe it to be a 44') taking survivors off the ships. He was assigned to the Arizona. He told of being able to hear the screams of men through the water even after she settled on the bottom. There is a famous picture of a utility boat motoring away from the Arizona with survivors on board...that is my great uncle in the stern running the boat.
Anyhow, I salute those veterans that still survive from that conflict. They are true heroes. They fought for family, home and country. All veterans are worthy of praise in my book, but those that fought in a war that we weren't sure we were going to win, when they believed American soil to be genuinely threatened (I lived on the West Coast as a child, and can remember beaches with tank obstacles....I now live in Alaska, and just today toured a Nike missle site with my jeep...). Veterans from World War II are a vanishing breed. Make sure to say "hi" and more importantly "thanks" to the next one you meet.
Thanks for the post Ulfinator.