Our Veteran

In December I shared a short story about a veteran.  I’ll refer to him as “Our Veteran“.    I think we should feel possessive about men and women who put their lives on the line, literally, to defend us.  Once he or she has served an entire country, I think the country should be dedicated to their well being.

So many of you  have sent me messages and emails asking me how he’s doing.

He has had a rough winter.

Today when he saw me he hugged me, started to let go and hugged me again.  The last time I was there he was too sick and concerned for my well being to hug me.  Ever the gentleman.

He told me that the last time I was there, he didn’t think he was going to make it.

Today he was full of smiles.  And still incredulous that people remember “him” and his fallen soldier brothers and friends.  I took my Kindle with me so he could see the actual blog.  He was so touched by all of the comments.  He has them in print.  But to be able to pull something up that anyone in the world can see, was kind of nice for him.

I went to see him today to share with him pictures that Koji found for him, and emailed to me.  My coworker printed them up for me.  And today I took them to him.  As soon as I handed him the first picture he said “oh yes, oh my”.   And we stepped back in to another time for him.  I was so hoping that he would recognize someone.  But the pictures themselves he could name every location of, and what was going on.   His recall is sharp, his humor intact.   We went through every single picture.  And he knew them all.  He couldn’t believe Koji would go to the trouble to  find these for him.

He asked me to wait because he wanted to share something with me.

He went upstairs, with much more energy and zip, then he had on our last visit.   He  nearly ran back down the steps.  And he was carrying three items.  Two frames and one old scrapbook.

His WW II scrapbook.   A very worn, important piece of history for him.  An important piece of his life.

And he shared it, giving me permission to share some of it with you.

Because he is not just a soldier.

He is a son, a grandson, a father, a husband.  He’s one of us.   One of us who did something so many of his generation did.  And still, so many of ours, do today.   He sacrificed his freedom and put his life on the line.

This is the flower that greeted me at his front door.

Greeting Flower

The last of his flowers.  He and his wife had a backyard full of roses.

Last year he had them all dug up.   Due to his health decline he could not manage the flowerbeds.

And another part of his treasured world is gone.

Along with his most beloved treasure.

Here they are.  So young.  So happy.  So full of everything yet to be lived.

The Married Couple

So much joy.  So much to do together.

No one’s hero.

Yet.

A son.  A grandson.

His grandfather and his father.  What will they think of their boy in battle?

Father and Grandfather

The grandparents in their Cadillac.

Grandparents and their Cadillac

Maybe not Our Hero, yet.   But her hero.

On their wedding day.

The Wedding Day

And off to training he goes.

Do they call it “hero training”?

He said this picture was after a climb, hike, trek, and training that lasted ‘forever’.

His clothes were nearly worn through, in a shambles, he said.

WW II Training

And training…

WW II Training

And training….

WW II Training

And either cleaning up after training.

Or swimming.

Or multi-tasking.

Can you see him bobbing up out of the water?

WW II Swim

Before the battles.  With family.

His brother also served.

The sister and sister in law….waited.

Before the Battles

Happily (see the smile) getting the GI hair cut.

GI Hair Cut

And relaxing.

At a time when he could.

Before the battles.

GI WW II

He must have been a good soldier.

Before he was a hero.

Here he is in a training film.

Better than Hollywood could create.

He.  Is.  Real.

Training Film for WW II

Then they went to battle.

They liberated towns.

V-J Day

He lost friends.

His brothers in arms.

WW II NewsHe was there.

A part of making history.

WW II News

He was one of them.

10th Mountain Division

They trained for this.

10th Mountain Division

Then he came home.

He noticed today, when we looked at this next picture…..

And I noticed when I looked.

Before he said a word.

He said “don’t I look like a scared kid”?  And he chuckled.

I wanted to cry.

You can’t see his scars.

They are under his eye, on the left side of his nose.

Where the bullets went in to his face.

And make it impossible for him to breath the ‘free’  air he fought for.

Look at his face.

Imagine what those eyes saw.

He Came Home

And when he went home…..

He got right to work.

Cleaning up his wife’s family home.

Because it needed done.

Veteran Works At Home

And this is what men like him did.

They went.

They served.

They returned.

And continued doing what had to be done.

WW II Veteran At Home Working

This is a corner of his front door.

His pride.

His memory.

His loyalty.

WW II Veteran Front Door

This was his compensation.

He wears it with honor.

In the same uniform he wore as a soldier.

He remains a soldier.

But it doesn’t help him breathe.

Purple Heart, 10th Mountain Division

This, is our reward.

WW II Veteran 10th Mountain Division

WW II Veteran
10th Mountain Division

Thank you, everyone, for asking about him. Praying for him.

And making him feel important and valued.

That, is his reward.

It helps him breathe.

Every day.

79 thoughts on “Our Veteran

  1. Great job describing an incredible man’s life. I’d guess he doesn’t think he is something special, but he is. Thanks to you, Our Veteran, for helping protect our country.

    Like

  2. I am so touched! What a beautiful human being. There is a special place in heaven for him and all like him. God bless you all! !!

    Like

  3. Very handsome man, Our Veteran. Reading and looking through images, I am reminded of my father-in-law (also a WWII veteran). I used to work for the Veterans Administration, and have nothing but admiration for those heroes that go through all that training for the sake of their country, and to help and defend other countries when they need it. Beautiful post, CM. 🙂

    Like

    • Hahaha! I will!!! I chuckle because I have so well documented my not hugging personality. But he is certainly one of the safe people in my world to hug, and I will do that for you. 🙂

      Like

  4. This is so amazing. I teared up, that’s for sure. Thank you for posting this, and thank you to this veteran not only for his service, but for allowing us a glimpse into his past and present. You have such a way with words that brings comfort and consideration. I’ve suggested your blog to facebook friends before and I plan on doing so again. ❤

    Like

    • Oh thank you Nicole. I am very touched that you suggested my blog. But there are so many times when I am truly not in control of the words going from my head and out through my fingertips. It is guidance? Inspiration? All honor and tears were earned by him. Thank you so much.

      Like

    • Thank you. 🙂 I don’t mean to make them painful. I truly don’t even know for sure where these are going when I start writing. I just looked at the faces…. and wrote it.

      Thank you for sharing. I appreciate it.

      Like

  5. This post evokes a lot of different emotions in me. Have you seen the Notebook? Oh my word, I cried so hard I couldn’t breath (it didn’t help that I was on the treadmill watching it). I think about your friend and the love of his life. He IS a hero! I am so glad that you printed out the comments for him. He needs to be encouraged. If you print out these comments, please tell your friend, “Thank you so much for serving our country! We have peace, freedom and comfort because of your sacrifice! Thank you for your sacrificial service. You are a great role model” Then give him a hug for me. 🙂

    Like

    • Oh yes! I saw the Notebook! I will share any more comments with him. And you guys and your hugs! Of course I will.

      I met him at the end of his wife’s life. He did everything for her. And what truly bothered him was that he couldn’t do more.

      Like

  6. I am 90% positive that is a Bronze Star Medal to the left of his Purple Heart. The Bronze Star is the fifth highest combat medal, the highest of course being the Congressional Medal of Honor. He did his duty… Here is a PARTIAL listing of Bronze Star recipients. See if OUR veteran is listed. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Category:Recipients_of_the_Bronze_Star_Medal&from=F

    Wonderful, wonderful tribute to an American still with us… Go Army.

    Like

    • The link won’t open for me. 😦 However, I do know it is indeed the Bronze Star (he told me) and the Good Conduct Metal on the other side of the Purple Heart. I am still trying to open the link though, just to see his name. 🙂

      Like

  7. A beautiful tribute to a man who did what needed to be done and paid a stiff price for our freedom. May he truly come to understand how many people appreciate his service and sacrifice, and that of his worried wife waiting for him to come home.

    Russ

    Like

  8. Colleen, this touched my heart. Do you see why I keep saying everyone needs a book about them… we each have our own stories. He is a hero… Skip is, also. I hope you’ll tell him this touched our heart, and we say ‘thank-you’ to him. Love, Gloria

    Like

  9. Wow, Colleen …. what a heartwarming tribute – amazing job you have done here and I know that every word comes from the deepest of your heart. This is so heart and soul touching. Thank you so much, Colleen. So happy that he are feeling much better … what a life story to be shared, thank you so much for this.

    Like

  10. What a wonderful, splendid tribute and man. Thankful that I found your blog in time get a glimpse of him and thankful for all that he has given, shared and continues to do so.

    Like

  11. What a huge privilege for you to know someone so interesting and heroic.

    He may not realise it but sharing those photographs and memories with you will have helped all of us to appreciate the veterans that we know. People we sometimes forget about but should all be making an effort to say “thank you”.

    Thank you both for the reminder

    Steven

    Like

    • Thank you Steven. I will share these thoughts with him. I wish I had gotten a picture of him as he draped himself over the arm of the chair to look at the pictures as I went through the book. I could see his eyes, his smiles, I could feel his memories in the pages. Just…wow!

      Like

  12. How moving to see those wonderful pictures and to hear that he is happy to know so many people think of him with great admiration. I am so glad to have read this post and learn about “our veteran.” What a wonderful man.

    Like

  13. Colleen, I am so glad you finally got to go visit him again! I truly loved looking at all the pictures he shared with you! I loved the first picture of his wife in her fur and I absolutely adored their wedding picture with the big smiles and laughs. I’m glad you shared all aspects of his life to show how regular a “hero” can be! A truly amazing life he had!

    Like

      • He was doing good the day I saw him. He was out planting flowers! He showed me all of his medals and this time he brought out pictures of his grandchildren. I think he is a little sad that they haven’t been able to come see him.

        Like

  14. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    For a day like “Memorial Day” …. this is what it means. Let’s remember it with respect, meaning and honor. Thanks to all who served and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. WILL NEVER FORGET!!

    Like

      • I need to honor them all. I had the honor of interacting with WWI, WWII, Korean, Vietnam and current wars veterans. The older generation had amazing stories. I thank you for writing about them …. I won’t forget either … They allowed me to see them at their worst and their best. I was there for them ….. humbling and honored!

        Like

  15. This is a great, real-life story. Thank you so much for sharing. I worked for the VA as a physician for almost 28 years. I’ve seen the effects of training, war and coming back. A humbling experience for me … but mostly, an honor.
    Could you direct me to the original story? Thank you again …. 🙂

    Like

  16. Colleen, this is really beautiful, and validating.

    I love all of the photos in between, let alone the story. This is just wonderful, Colleen.

    Like

    • Thank you Noeleen. He is a beautiful human being. It is sometimes difficult to think of these men who went to war, and the stories of their lives…. I’m glad you appreciate his story Noeleen, that is truly validating.

      Like

      • I sure hope that he’s getting medical care at his nearest VA facility. I hope that they are somewhere nearby. A persistent cold or cough at his age is not a good thing!!

        Like

        • Thank you Dr. Rex. He is getting care. Unfortunately it isn’t helping. With his breathing passages permanently blocked due to his war injury this will be a horrible battle for him. The most horrible part was when a doctor told him, in the last year, that he could have had surgery decades ago (and should have). Now, he could not handle the surgery. He’s a true gentleman. I wish he didn’t struggle so.

          Like

    • I am sorry for your loved one lost. And I thank you for doing such a great service in keeping his memory alive and telling his story for all of us to see; I would have been far better person to have known him, I am sure.

      Like

      • Thank you AnotherWarriorPoet, I know I am better for having met him. His service far outshines the service I provide. But is a reminder to me that all of us can serve well, in what ever it is we do. We can make a difference.

        Like

    • Thank you for reading about him MBM. He was something. His story about the war and his battles in the Po Valley are something. He had such vivid recall. His stories about meeting his wife and what they went through….. I appreciate you taking the time to spend with ‘him’.

      Like

  17. Thank you for sharing your comments and photos of Gene and Rose. We will miss our long-time friend. Gene loved to sing 40’s songs. He and his wife were talented in various ways. They both shared a passion for growing and photographing them. We traveled together to Washington DC to honor Gene with his Silver Star and Purple Heart. He was a wealth of history and lived it first-hand.

    Like

    • You’re welcome Janice. Thank you for all you did as well. He loved so much about life. Knowing what he went through and what troubled him, it’s good to know he enjoyed many things. It was an honor to be able to share his stories. He was generous and pleasant, a true gentleman. I hoped to show him some thanks and honor and was glad that I did. He was ever grateful for any kindness shown him. He spoke often of what you and Larry did for him. A good, fine man.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.