Had Lunch with a WWII Hero Yesterday!!
Here is the minesweeping destroyer he was on:
I've known Jim ever since I was a little kid but never heard any of his stories. He is 83 now and recovering from throat cancer and losing weight fast & the Dr's aren't sure what's up. He may have a tube inserted into his belly & he's down to 125lbs. We got to talking about his condition and he told me. "Bubba, (yes that is my nick name and all my Dad's and Grandad's friends call me that) I'm a blessed man, I've been lucky and healthy all my life up until now and should be dead."
I watched a little while as his expression changed. "What do you mean Jim??"
He started of telling me about his responsibility on the 'Defense' was basically being the eyes for the ship and was always up top glassing, etc. He then went into a story about a kamikaze was being shot and heading right at him...he said they must have hit the bomb because it exploded right as it went down and close to the hull. "I side stepped a piece of the plane which ripped one side of my pants off & left a gash." He was told to go down to get his wound checked out and declined. "Those guys down there are a lot more hurt than I am as close as that jap hit." He then told another story of the kamikaze that was just yards from him and missed the ship into the ocean...he said they made eye contact & the jap had a look of "what the hell am I thinking!!"
I'm blown away at this point. Here I am almost 40 & just NOW hearing this??
He also told of being the eyes for the Marines at Iwo Jima and how they were there days before to clear the area and let the land boys know the best position. He swears he saw the 1st Marine die on the Island which is a famous Marine but can't prove it (John Basilone I think) "Bubba, we had been there for days and we were anchored close to the Island watching these boys get mowed down. We saw the cave doing the most damage and it took me three moves to get that bomb right on that sucker....Capt. told me you just saved lots of Marines Bowell."
Had another story of catching some weird 'blips' on the radar and something told him to take cover...."machine gun fire hit all around and the thick plates saved my butt."
Ther were other stories of saving guys who were drowning and then being saved himself from the exhaustion of trying to save them and being pulled up from the hair by a friend with salt water & fuel in his lungs. Man, I was just tickled & on edge listening.
I came home and flipped on the Military channel and low & behold I watch two hours of "Hell in the Pacific." Got to hear stories from a whole bunch more heros. Told bluntly and certainly not PC correct footage these days.
Anyway, what a bunch of cry babies we have in the U.S. after all that sacrifice. I'm just not just talking about WWII either...but all our wars including Iraq. Like the Marine from Iwo Jima on TV said "We don't care what anyone back home thought or thinks of what we did to those japs...they weren't there WE WERE." I would like to thank all vets for my freedom and mostly for keeping me safe and from not having to endure what you have gone through. Words aren't enough.
Wilbur / Bill,
Feel free to move this to the opt. forum if you feel it's necessary.
Visit a Memorial
Every chance I get, I visit a Memorial to our fellow Americans when ever I can. Here was the lastest in Alaska, that week.
I would not think of it. Tell Jim that we all stand in his shadow.
Originally Posted by Bill Wynne
..The funny part about your comment is his physical stature. Jim cannot cast a shadow standing next to anyone accept a kid. He was always the smallest man in the room. He grew 10 feet tall yesterday in my eyes. I've had many conversations with this man and I just never knew because he was humble about it I guess. He always treated me as any other guy unlike some of the other arrogant fellows who hang out at the club.
Like other warriors...his heros are the ones who did not return & I had to ask for more. I can tell he appreciated my enthusiasm and we talked about the sinking of that monster ship Japan had and his encounters w/ the USS Indianapolis during the war & all the dead he pulled from the waters over his time at sea. He always carried himself as dime amongst nickels....now I know why. It really was a cool day & I'm glad I got to steal a few minutes of his time.
After I left he kinda reminded me & got me thinking of Audie Murphy.