I have already spoken of an acquaintance who’s combat weapon in vietnam was a sawed off shotgun. Now I would like to turn my attention to a couple of men who served in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.
Some years ago, I discovered that my next door neighbor was a World War II vet. I spoke to him about this and learned that he had been awarded a medal for bravery in combat while under fire on the beach of an island in the Pacific. With his assent, I brought my young sons to his house and explained to my sons what he had done and what an honor it was to meet such a man. I asked him to show them his medal, and he brought it out.
In an excess of modesty he remarked that he was simply too scared to retreat under withering Japanese fire. I thanked him and his fellow soldiers for their courageous service, and he responded that they were young, and scared, and he paused. I finished his sentence: “And you changed the world.”
On another occasion I learned that one of my Masonic Brothers had served as a sonar operator on a battleship–his job was to wear headphones and listen to microphones deployed in the water under the ship. He related that one night he thought he heard a Japanese Submarine. He raised the alarm and evasive measures were taken including dropping depth charges.
He noted that after the war was over, an examination of Japanese military records revealed that they had indeed sunk a Japanese submarine that night. I wonder how many American lives were saved because he did his job well. I have always been struck by the kind of life and death responsibilities combat places on teenagers and men in the their early 20s, and how they rise to the challenge.
As always, I am in awe and gratitude to those who have served in combat and paid the price of our freedom. I feel it is incumbent on me to influence our politicians to avoid unnecessary war and reduce the number of our children who must pay the price for said freedom.