My Friend and Yours-A Veteran

I know a World War II veteran. 

But the world doesn’t know him.

The very short version of his story (which he gave me persmission to share with you) is this:

During WW II he joined the armed forces to defend his country.  He boarded a train to cross the entire country.  He was by nature the shyest of any man ever born.  But there, on the train, was a beautiful girl.  He does not know how he came upon the nerve to do so but he found it, the nerve and the courage, to go talk to her.  And he talked to her across the country.  Literally.   And he fell in love with her.  And they married.

He trained for two years for specialized duty.  And he went to war as part of the 10th Mountain Division.

And he fought.

During one battle the man with him was shot and killed.  He was the only one who could operate or fix the weapons at hand.  During this battle, right before his birthday, he was shot in the face. 

Bullets.  In.  His.  Face.

The battle was for Mt. Belvedere in Italy.   Though he did not know anyone in the 442nd Division, referenced in this story by Koji D. Kanemoto, he knew of them as soon as I mentioned them.  As soon as I read Mr. Kanemoto’s story I knew there was some connection.  The 442nd did come in behind the 10th Mountain Division with support. 

His Lieutenant held a rag to his face while he bled and continued on with his duty.    They patched him up, never sending him on for further medical care.

He earned the Purple Heart and other medals that he proudly displays.  And he still fits in to his uniform.

He still honors his country and is proud of what he did.

Now, he has today.

And today is not a good day for WW II veterans.

Remember the bullets in the face?  That he was never treated for?  He can’t breathe so the medical division of the VA tested him and said he can breathe through his mouth so he is not disabled.  He deserves no compensation.  And now, all of these years later, they tell him he should have had surgery “years and years” ago to repair his face….that part of him that breathes air in to his body.  You know, to keep him alive.  So he breathes through his mouth, without complaint, even when he is trying to eat and breathe at the same time and the end result is choking.

He doesn’t expect anything.   And when I told him today that he should expect appreciation he said “that would nice to receive”.  I shared with him “highest regards” from Mr. Kanemoto and he very humbly said “thank you very much”.   And as always, I told him that I do appreciate him and his service, and even more-I appreciate the kind, humble and unassuming man he is.  He said he appreciated me and wished he did feel appreciated. 

I asked him of his Christmas plans and he said he mail ordered something for his adult son.  And other than that he said “I have no Christmas spirit”.  I did not know what to say.  How could I “convince” him with mere words that I want for him to find comfort in this season.  That I want for him, this kind and gentle man, to feel cared for and loved.   To feel the appreciation for something he did willingly and I suspect he would do again.   Without hesitation.   Even knowing the end result.  How do I tell him that who he is, and what he has done, matters to many?

I can’t tell him how I feel and assume many feel the same way.

But if any of you out there in the world want to express a Merry Christmas, or a Thank You, or any expression of comfort and joy to a man who served his country with dedication and loyalty, please feel free to share a message here and I will make sure he gets it.

And so you know.   This man did not just serve his country by going to war.   He served his country by returning from war, working hard to support his wife and child.  He went to work.  Paid his bills.  Treated his community with respect and honor.  He never asked for anything of anyone.   He gave of himself to provide and to do.  He would not expect or even accept a hand out. 

But he just  might accept a ‘thank you’.  

Or a ‘you matter’.  

Or a ‘you are not forgotten’.  

Or a Merry Christmas.

He might be comforted by knowing the world hasn’t forgotten him.

66 thoughts on “My Friend and Yours-A Veteran

  1. Please tell him I admire someone willing to play their required role, no matter what that role is. I thank him and appreciate him, and wish him to know it. I send him all my love.

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  2. I”m not American but I’m always moved by what any Soldier has done for their country. I have tears reading this. I’ve had the powerful moment of working with a senior who told me a part of his story. We both cried. It changed me. Please tell him that I think of all the Soldiers past and present often and I’m truly grateful for the sacrifices they’ve made. I believe them all to be heros. There aren’t English words strong enough to express the gratitude I feel. Their families also make sacrifices and I think of them as well.
    Tell him thank you from the bottom of my heart, tell him Merry Christmas. What a gift our Soldiers are.

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  3. When I read about a veteran who obviously got shafted by the system he almost died trying to protect I get upset. I wanted to go on a rant about abuses of the system, but this is not the place. Mr. veteran I thank you for all you have done. I thank you for being a role model. The world needs more like you who do what is right and earn their own way, no matter what the hardships.

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  4. So he was 10th Mountain Division after all… That was one tough outfit. He’s proof. He is likely very much like Old Man Jack or Mr. Johnson. He never addresses himself as a hero and say the real heroes didn’t come back while shedding a tear.

    These men share a common life experience rarely spoken of. Combat. You can tell which are REAL combat vets versus those seeking the limelight. The real ones want to forget.

    Combat… Do you know what it sounds like when a bullet strikes a soldier? Find a ripe tomato. A VERY ripe tomato. Stand ten feet in front of a mature cedar plank fence and throw the tomato with all your might… Then do that 100 times.

    Here is a brief summary of the Mt. Belvedere battle that “wrapped up” on 25 Feb 45 when the final counterattacks on Mt. della Torraccia are repulsed:

    “These battles for control of the Mt. Belvedere – Mt. della Torraccia ridge cost the 10th Mountain Division alone 923 casualties: 192 KIA, 730 WIA and 1 POW.”

    Your client was one of the 730 wounded in action.

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    • Thank you Koji. I so very much appreciate your help. I will print all of the responses and take them to him. And of course already shared your first greeting with him. He is an honorable man. And I want him to feel appreciated for who he is. I neglected to mention that his beautiful bride he met on that train ride has passed. He has lost much. And asks for nothing.

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  5. This is astonishing, Colleen, not just the battle tale, but that he is not compensated. It is disgusting to leave him this way, after facing bullets in the face for his country. Surely, surely some publicity can be whipped up, and something happen for this veteran?

    Please say hello from Australia, and my deepest respects.

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    • I’m hoping that whatever responses I can get from this blog will help cheer him up. I think, truly, that thoughtful words and genuine appreciation will make a huge difference in his heart right now. I really appreciate you sending this. I can now tell him he has one from Australia! 🙂 Onya Noeleen! And thank you much!

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  6. Dear Sir,
    Thank you for your service to our country. My grandfather also served during World War II. I am thankful every day that brave men like you sacrificed so much to serve our country. I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas,
    Deborah

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    • Genealogy Lady, thank you so very much. I will print this and take it to him next week before Christmas. I hope he enjoys the thoughts and good will being sent his way. I would love to see his spirits lifted.

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      • I hope my words can help in some small way to lift your friend’s spirits. I’ve been asking my Dad about what he remembers from his father’s experiences in the war. My father replied that his father never really spoke of that time either. My grandfather was not injured. He was a doctor who served in the Solomon Islands. I can only imagine the horrors he must have witnessed, piecing together the broken bodies of soldiers.
        Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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        • Thank you very much.

          I cannot imagine what your Grandfather, or any veteran in active duty, has seen. I meet with many veterans who say absolutely nothing. They are truly to be cherished for their service.

          Merry Christmas to you and your family !!!

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  7. Dear Sir,

    I live in freedom today because of your sacrifice. It is an honor to have this opportunity to thank you, although words are not enough to express my gratitude. May God bless you with peace.

    Janet

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  8. It’s so that our soldiers often are forgotten … when the wars are over – and today our soldiers are fighting wars that isn’t even theirs. We don’t have an army in Sweden – we have only defense and then our men and women do a lot of job for UN.

    You story here … is so touching. Give a big hug from me … because it wasn’t Europe that won the war.

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  9. Thank you so much for your service. It is because of brave, unselfish men like yourself that I can enjoy the freedoms I have today. Know that you are loved, respected and in my prayers daily. God Bless you.

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  10. I would like to thank him for my life that I’m living. The things I take for granted daily are there because of him and people like him. He has helped protect this country at a cost of his own health and one simple thank you could never repay him, but I give him this, Thank you and Merry Christmas! This country couldn’t survive without people like you!

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  11. This guy had my back when I was probably complaining about rationing and my mother could not buy as much sugar or butter as we wanted. Today we have people following the example of this man and we still have not learned how to thank nor repay them. Merry Christmas my friend.

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  12. I am surrounded by men who have served in the military, there is such a sense of pride and respect they have for themselves and rightfully so. They deserve to be honored and treated with respect for defending our country… and our country should be taking care of them, period. This man is a hero! My son calls his grandfathers each year on Veterans Day and thanks them! I thank this man for all he has done and hope he can realize the Christmas spirit!

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  13. Please let him know how much he is appreciated by my family for his service and duty served. I want to express my family’s sincere thanks. Merry Christmas to a true hero and man to look up to who fought for our country and did what all men (& women) should do for their country and their families. May he find the spirit needed for living every day to its fullest.

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  14. Dear Sir,
    I salute you. Thank you for your service, for allowing me to have the freedoms I have today. You are truly respected by everyone in my family, including my 9 year old son who understands the sacrifices you have made for all of us.
    Merry Christmas!
    Andrea

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  15. Oh my Dear God this man this poor soul, Although I doubt he would think he is poor, He Served and Served with Dignity and Honor. He is not the first of many of our Brothers and Sisters in Arms who have come home to country who either forgets or does not Care for the Act of Sacrifice, so many make, either in the Mortal Pain and constant reminder of the Horror of War or through their more oft than not Silent and Lonely Death on Distant Shores. We all lose a bit if not a great deal of the spirit of Christmas…the saying “Peace and Goodwill to All fall silent on Deaf ears of those who have heard the Roar and Screams Battle.
    Do me the great Honor and wish this Dignified Honor-Bound Gentleman from one soldier to another a Merry Christmas. Also if you do me the honor of sharing this small token of my appreciation, I would appreciate it. I think you will understand when you read it yourself and I would like to re-blog your post if you wouldn’t mind.
    http://poeticcreole.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/tribute-to-youth-lost/

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    • The Scales Of Time, first let me thank YOU for your service. I appreciate every man and woman who signs up for the armed services. I appreciate you.

      I will be printing your response and taking it to “my” veteran.

      I will be more than happy to share your “Baby Face Boys; Not Quite Men”. I am sure he will fully understand it.

      I am sure that those who serve(d) understand this man’s feelings. I do wish I could accurately portray the dignity of this man. I am sure you understand it without me having to. But there are others who should know.

      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

      (ANd I appreciated the re-blog on his behalf. God bless you.)

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  16. P.s. The VA and our Government for the last 60 years of this gentleman’s life should be deeply ashamed and this his story should be spread wide and far so that all can see this and if nothing else, those that can make a difference are shamed into doing so!

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  17. Reblogged this on poeticcreole and commented:
    If your a Veteran, or are currently serving this, Please add your voice and your words to this Shameless act of Betrayal by our Government and the VA perpetrated for over 60 years and send your wish for a Happy Holiday Season to this Gentleman. Thanks.

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  18. He is a true hero in every sense of the word. His story touched my heart. You and Koji are honoring these special people. Pass on our appreciation for him too. Do you think he may like a “card shower”? I am sure your readers would love to express their appreciation to him through something like that. Just an idea! 😉

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  19. My grandfather served in WWII in India. He flew the hump. You can pass a note from me, Colleen.

    The sacrifices made during WWII are still significant. They have impacted the way of life offered to my parents, me, my children and my grandchildren. Without doubt, they will continue to influence generations far beyond those I will see born.

    Your gracious, selfless sacrifice is appreciated. Without men and women like you who were willing to put your lives on hold for the greater good, such good likely would not exist. For as long as there is breath in my house, you will not be forgotten.

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  20. Please thank this hero for me.We are so fortunate for the sacrifices paid by him and his fellow veterans and current service members. I hope he can feel the appreciation he deserves and has from all of us.

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  21. Thankyou Chatter Master. I am not American, but I sant to give that man a message. I want to say to him that he DOES matter. That he is the epitomy of bravery. That I care. I care very much. I am kind of lost for words. Thus beautiful, uncomplaining man. I am SO glad that he has a loving wufe and son. He MATTERS. Wish him zmerry Christmas from me, here in England. God bless him. Xxxx

    Like

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