My dad is a WWII vet and I saw him yesterday for his 92nd birthday, which is actually today, 5/25. He is still proud of what he and his fellow airmen did. He was stationed in north Africa and later in Italy. He was with the 15th Air Force 461st Bomb Squadron which flew B24s.
He's moving slowly these days but in basically good health considering a stroke 9 years ago. He remembers EVERYTHING about his war years, he was also a Korean War vet having served in the reserves.
I doubt he has 7 years left in him, but we make sure that we see him for his birthday and get him to talk about the war years. Lots of guys right next to him never made it home. Just about all of the people I knew that came back in 1945 are willing to sit down and share their experiences about those days.
My grandfather, who will turn 90 and turned wrenches on B-29s in Saipan, doesn't talk about it all that much. But that's pretty much due to his attitude. Even now if he's got a job to do, he just puts his mind to it and gets it done. I like to think that he passed this trait to me, although it doesn't always show. lol
Throughout my childhood he was the most prominent male figure in my life, and I'm thankful for having him in it.
Indeed, and I too appreciate this thread. My grandfather was a WWII vet who was buried with full military honors when I was five. I remember it like it was yesterday. The ceremony, the 21 gun salute and the white gloved soldier that respectfully handed my grandmother the folded flag that draped his coffin. She displayed it until her death a few years ago.
A squadron of P-47 Thunderbolts flew over our house earlier and it literally brought tears to my eyes and gave me goosebumps.
A feeble, but heartfelt thank you to all those who have fought, died and been maimed so people they would never know could be free.
I see them frequently with my job. In Canada most all of them have Veteran lisence plates. I always take the time to thank them. What surprises me the most is how surprised and humbled they are to be thanked. They in a class all of their own, I will never forget the sacrifices they made, so I can do the things so many take for granted.
The beginning of "Saving Private Ryan" brings tears to my eyes everytime. Even now just thinking about it gets me going.
My grandmother used to tell me stories about WW2 days. When Hitler invaded and took over Rome, many people fled to the hills. They made little camps for shelter there while the Germans occupied the city of Rome. She would tell me how US troops who were advancing north from Sicily would come into these camps looking for food, shelter, etc. They would give them whatever they could spare (potatoes, bread, cheese, water, wine, etc).
When the Germans finally left and the American tanks went thundering through the streets while US troops would throw Hershey chocolate bars to the people as a part of the celebration. Man, that is some shit that I will never find in any text book.
One of our church members entered Normandy as part of the amphibious assault on the day after D-Day and was later wounded at the Battle of the Bulge. He's suffered foot pain from being wounded since that time. I sit and talk with him whenever I can. We had several other WWII veterans in our church at the time who were always willing to talk about the war, but they've mostly passed away now. Listening to them was time well spent.
My wife interviewed several of the WWII vets. She recorded their stories and transcribed the recordings so that their memories wouldn't be lost. The families always appreciated getting the written versions of the stories they'd heard for so many years.