Glory for Me

From Glory for Me by MacKinlay Kantor:

When you come out of war to quiet streets
You lug your War along with you.
You walk a snail-path. On your back you carry it-
A scaly load that makes your shoulders raw;
And not a hand can ever lift the shell
That cuts your hide. You only wear it yourself–
Look up one day, and vaguely see it gone.
And one day it is gone if you are wise.

As quoted by John R. Bruning in The Patriot Journalist (http://theamericanwarrior.com/2015/04/27/the-patriot-journalist/ : accessed 26 April 2015).

Notes & Commentary

And now that Wayne’s Journal is finished, I would like to recognize those who over the years shared their stories with me . . . .

Bob, an infantry officer, who was in constant action with the 80th Infantry Division of Patton’s Third Army from August 1944 until the end of the war.

Howard, an Army officer, who oversaw the transshipment of Lend Lease materials at Basra, Iraq. These supplies, trucks, tanks, etc., were bound by rail for Russian forces fighting on the Eastern Front. Later, he led truck convoys traversing the desert between Basra and Haifa, Palestine. The convoys were carrying troops on R&R.

Bert who served as a member of a Navy CB unit in the Solomon Islands, New Guinea and the Philippines. His legs were troubled with jungle rot throughout his life. His favorite statement? If you think this is bad, you should have been in New Guinea in ’43. For him, that seemed to cover every adversity.

Jim, a Navy Corpsman with a Marine unit, bound for Okinawa. He came down with pneumonia and was in the hospital when his unit shipped out. He didn’t make to Okinawa. All the corpsmen in the unit were either killed or wounded there. His brother, Jay, was a gunner/radioman (RM3) attached to Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) aboard USS Enterprise (CV-6). Neither he nor his pilot survived the dive bomber attacks on the Japanese aircraft carriers at Midway.

Fred, an enlisted man in the Air Force, helped establish radio beacon sites in the North African desert. These sites helped guide bombers home across the Mediterranean from Ploesti and other targets in Europe.

Art enlisted in the Marines from a Pennsylvania coal mining town in 1940. Most of the Marines in his regiment were killed in island invasions. At war’s end, he found himself guarding a bridge in Northern China.

Jess, a glider pilot, survived the airborne operations of D-Day and Market Garden. He talked of being strafed by Me-262s.

Freddie, a black WAC, whose duty it was to guard Italian prisoners of war working in the cotton fields of South Carolina. She picked up the Italian POWs in the morning and drove them out to the cotton fields. She kept an eye on them during the day and drove them back to the camp at day’s end. Easy duty, she claimed, none of them wanted to go back to the war.

Crystal whose husband, a Navy officer, was killed at Pearl Harbor. She was there during the attack.

Dick, a cryptographer who was assigned at war’s end to a Graves Registration unit charged with recovering bodies in Burma. He had homemade tattoos of skulls and bones on his arms. The tattoos were done by fountain pen in drunken jungle camps after digging up bodies during the day.

Harry who was a young lieutenant stationed at the Presidio near San Francisco when the war began. He talked of the hysteria that ensued, including a horse-mounted cavalry expedition into Marin County in search of invading Japanese troops. They came upon them in the night and while shrouded in fog slaughtered the lot of them. In the morning, the invading Japanese troops turned out to be a herd of sheep. The owner was well paid to keep his mouth shut.

Cecil was an enlisted man in the Philippines. Captured by the Japanese, he suffered through the Bataan Death March and years of captivity in Japan where he was forced to work as a coal miner. To the day he died, he despised all things Japanese.

Lyle, a B-17 pilot with the 8th Air Force. Once he returned home, he refused to ever fly again.

Ken, a B-17 pilot who completed 50 missions with the with the 12th Air Force, 301st Bombardment Group; 419th Bombardment Squadron.

Bayard, a Signal Corps officer, who spent three years at a radio intercept site in Ethiopia.

Lawrence who helped to install radar warning devices on the bombers of the 8th Air Force.

Jack who was at a training base in Mississippi when the second Atomic Bomb was dropped. He said everyone went absolutely wild. When asked, Why? He replied, We realized we weren’t going to have to die.

Stephen, Navy Ensign, who made an urgent trip ashore on an invasion beach with an encrypted message only to find it was a routine message regarding a food shipment.

Bill, an Army doctor at Anzio.

Mike, who lost a friend at Tarawa.

Jay, an enlisted man, who helped filter penicillin from urine at an Army hospital in Scotland.

Lyle, a member of a Navy Armed Guard unit on a cargo ship off Okinawa. He was wounded during a Kamikaze attacks.

Chubby who bragged about combat service, but who was in an Army basic training camp in the States when the war ended.

Little Billy, a B-17 ball turret gunner with the 8th Air Force. He stayed in the Air Force after the war and retired as a Major. Always a colorful character, he liked to note that he was born in Oklahoma but conceived under some trees along a river in Texas. He served in the Air Force for almost 30 years.

Burt, a plumber, who showed up one day with photographs of him serving in the infantry during the Battle of the Bulge. In one of the photographs, he was sitting on two frozen bodies while eating his lunch. After the war, he was famous for his pet monkey which he took everywhere.

Bergie, a Marine radio operator, who served in the Pacific.

Albert, a mechanical engineer, who was an officer in Wehrmacht. He served on the Eastern Front.

Norman, an Army dental technician whose unit was one of the first into the concentration camp at Ebensee in Austria. Even in his 90s, he could still smell the camp and the dead and dying.

Waldo whose only son died on an unknown beach in the Pacific.

Peter who with his mother survived the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands. Their family and relatives were exterminated in concentration camps while they hid with whomever would shelter them.

An infantry officer whose name I have long since forgotten. He survived the Normandy beaches only to have his jeep was blown up by a land mine the week after D-Day.

John who spent the War between Cairo and Istanbul with the OSS.

Hazel, Viola and the other women who served as codebreakers in the U.S. during World War II. They have never received the recognition accorded their counterparts at Bletchley Park.

Jane who was a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP). She once told me she had a pilot’s license before she had a driver’s license. She always brought her “short snorter” when she came by to talk.

Walt who served in the infantry during the invasion of North Africa.

Dick, an 8th Air Force POW, who was liberated by the Russians. He travelled across Russia in the back of a truck on the way to repatriation at a Crimean port.

Lucinda and David whose fathers served in World War II only to be called back for Korea.

Gary, Alan, Judy and Becky, four of the at least 183,000 American children who were left fatherless as the result of WWII: http://www.awon.org/aboutus.html. Their fathers went to war and never came back.

And the list goes on . . . . and

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33 Responses to Glory for Me

  1. And all incredible stories of a time we should never forget. Thank you for posting Wayne’s journal it has been amazing to read.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Absolutely fascinating biographical snippets

    Like

  3. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Again, what more can I say to thank you for sharing all these stories…
    Lest We Forget.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Reblogged this on Lest We Forget and commented:
    Again, what more can I say to thank Allen for sharing all these stories…
    Lest We Forget.

    Like

  5. GP Cox says:

    Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. suchled says:

    What a story you have told. I only wish I have been with you from day one. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Robert McWhorter says:

    Allen, thank you for the journey back to WWII. What an experience for me and those that I forwarded your blog to. God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for this journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sally Gray-Gatzemeyer says:

    Thank you to all the service members past and present, because of you we are free.
    Thank you Allen for sharing Uncle Wayne’s Journal with the world.

    Like

  10. a gray says:

    This comment is from a gentlemen who asked that I enter it for him:

    All these contributors to your many, many issues of Wayne’s Journal are so interesting. On the farm before I enlisted, we had several pairs of Italian workers. They were never guarded by anyone. We assumed they were so happy they were not about to go anywhere except the farm. Of course, I left for the USAAF so never heard any more about them.

    The page about the AWON was interesting, too. The orphans were just a group who suffered in their own way resulting from the war – tough and sad.

    Like

  11. Penner, Scott says:

    Allen, Thank you for sharing this. Amazing, powerful and unforgettable. A great tribute to these young men and their families.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. jfwknifton says:

    Thank you so much for these poignant yet powerful stories. They remind me so much of my own father who never flew again in the sixty or so years after he left the RAF in 1945. He was a keen television watcher but, amazingly, contrived never to buy anything either German or Japanese. (The secret over here in Europe is the Dutch firm, Philips.) Again, thank you so much for these stories.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. aerjacobs says:

    Thank you so much for the amazing and terrible stories you shared through Wayne’s Journal. I enjoyed every one of them– they reminded of the very human aspect of war, something which is often overlooked. Thank you again; your blog has been a true privilege to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. An important and heart-rending list.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. How did I miss this? Sorry, Allen. Wow! Freddie the WAC is the most interesting to me. How strange to have the role of “taskmaster” on the plantation!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Mustang.Koji says:

    What a compilation of heroes…and horrible experiences for such young people. Dick, Cecil, and most of all, Waldo…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Kate Loveton says:

    I truly enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. i have been enjoying wayne’s journal. i come from a navy family: during the war, my grandfather was lt commander on the battleship u s s West Virginia (retired as rear admiral) and my dad was a gunner on the aircraft carrier u s s enterprise.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. GP Cox says:

    Will you be posting here again or starting a new site, Alan?

    Liked by 1 person

    • a gray says:

      With the post for 02 August 1945, “They All Came Home”, Wayne’s Journal is done.

      “Glory for Me”, posted on 08 August 2015, suggests a wealth of stories that might yet come. Those whose stories they were are almost all dead now. Their stories were shared during conversations between friends, one person to another and often with great sadness. Their stories will go untold although they beg for telling. If told, they would disappoint many. They are not stories of “guts and glory”. They are simply the quiet stories of men and women who lived through unimaginably horrible times and emerged changed in ways that, perhaps, they never understood.

      I’ve tried to put words to what I’ve learned from these men and women. I find it impossible. The sadness of it all can be overwhelming. The closest that I can come to explaining the feelings that were shared through their stories is best portrayed by Gordon Lightfoot’s rendition of the song Protocol: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeCLSfExXB4.

      Liked by 1 person

      • GP Cox says:

        Keep in mind, Alan, that all history should be recorded – whether we like it or not. I don’t agree with people who try to erase a part of history to suit themselves. Thank you for replying in such length. If you chose to make a blog of these stories, please be certain I get the address to Follow. Thank you.

        Liked by 2 people

      • a gray says:

        As one who holds a degree in History, I have had a long interest in the actual writing of history. There are those who, through ignorance or intention, try to rewrite history to suit their personal views. History is a broad subject that demands the rigorous use of original source material. That is something too often forgotten by those who only use derivative materials including popular books, television documentaries, etc., as their basis of understanding. There is a widespread failure to understand the writing of history, i.e., historiography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historiography.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. beetleypete says:

    My own father had a ‘good’ war, serving in the army (artillery) in India. He and his brother were regulars from long before 1939, but his brother ( my Uncle Harry) fared less well. He was sent to the fighting in Burma, captured by the Japanese, and endured hardships in the camps that he would never talk about.
    This is one more important legacy of WW2 that will hopefully always be here to be remembered. Thanks for your hard work in creating it, and to your contributors too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I have nominated you for the Liebster award for blogging: http://20thcenturybattles.com/2016/03/05/the-liebster-award/

    Liked by 1 person

  22. As a follow up, I do hope you are in the midst of another project. Armchair historians like me who don’t have the ability/intelligence to properly research/cite like you would be immensely pleased to read some more from you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • a gray says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Koji. “Wayne’s Journal” was, at times, nearly an all consuming task. The historical research took time, but it was also emotionally difficult. I learned much that I had not known before about people with which I had been close. Through the “Journal”, I lived Wayne’s life.

      As “Wayne’s Journal” came to its end, the only thing that came to my mind was “I will fight no more forever”, the concluding words of an 1877 speech by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce: http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/joseph.htm. I feel certain that deep in his heart “Old Man Jack” had similar feelings.

      I do have another diary, that of my father. It begins earlier than the journal Wayne kept and eventually parallels that of Wayne. It covers his washout from Cadets and his follow-on training as an aerial gunner. Much of it is mundane as is the normal case with life. I don’t know if it would be of interest to anyone but me. I have had it in mind, though, as another project, but I am not sure that I am ready to commence it. What do you think?

      Like

      • GZhang says:

        Mr. Gray,

        I am very interested in your father’s diary. Thank you so much for sharing parts of it in “Wayne’s Journal.” The diary and your excellent research provided me with a much better picture of what the men experienced while stationed in England at Framlingham (Parham) Station 153. Between December 1944 and April 1945, my father completed 35 missions as a tail gunner in the 569th Squadron. Your father completed six of the same missions. Your father’s story was incredibly moving and I was truly overwhelmed by reading it.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. a gray says:

    To hear from others whose parents or uncles shared the same experiences as that of mine makes it all worthwhile. What was your father’s name?

    Like

  24. a gray says:

    Tomorrow on the 11th of November no matter where you are at the 11th minute of the 11th hour, take a moment to reflect upon all the brave boys and girls who made your life possible.. It’s only a pittance of time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kX_3y3u5Uo.

    Think about it.

    Like

  25. GP Cox says:

    I know this blog is finished Alan, but just wondered how you were doing lately. I do hope all is well and you and your family are looking forward to the holiday season.

    Like

  26. Lloyd Marken says:

    G’day mate, just wanted to let you know I’ve nominated you for The Mystery Blogger Award. Appreciate all your support and interest and enjoy your blog. https://lloydmarken.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/the-mystery-blogger-award-nomination/

    Like

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