“…my Daddy would never talk to me about what happened to him during the war. Men in those days held things in. One measure of a man was that he had the inner strength to bear his own burdens. But the more Dad clammed up, the more I clamored for information……..
So what I knew about what really happened to my dad on D-Day, how he became a Purple Heart winner and my hero, I set against the backdrop of wartime newsreels and movie scenes.
It was June 6, 1944. My dad was a radarman aboard a destroyer, and the ship had taken up its position off Omaha Beach at Normandy, France. From their inland artillery positions, the Nazis pounded the beach and surf. Dad, only EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD, volunteered to drive a personnel landing craft vehicle, one of those defenseless small boats that carried heroes to death and victory. I was 10 years old when Dad finally sketched the scene for me. I filled the details, imagining he could feel the concussion of artillery blasts and hear the rattle of German guns from their beachside bunkers. I could see American soldiers streaming off other landing craft and onto the beach, some falling immediately, others charging up the sand, crouched low and firing. I knew from the movies that blood splashed the beach and bloomed in the water. And, in the middle of it all, I could see my daddy, just a teenager, piloting his boat into the smoke and thunder.
When Dad told me the story of how he was wounded, all he remembered is something exploded in his face and the world went dark. The Howitzers’ roar, the pounding shells, the bloody surf-all of it simply disappeared. The next time Daddy was fully aware, he was stretched out in a bed at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC. A thick cotton pad covered his left eye, held there by a belt of gauze circling his head. The blast at Normandy destroyed his optic nerve and for the rest of his life, he would only see out of one eye. My father did not complain and as a consequence, I did not know until I was twelve years old that he was technically half blind.”
I have just started reading NEVER SURRENDER A Soldier’s Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom, by LTG (Ret.) Wiliam G Boykin. It is an amazing book so far and I wanted to share the above because, just after I read it, I got sent the ‘joke’ below via email and couldn’t help but think about the 18 year old MEN of 1944 and the 18 year old of today. God help us all: