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Contest - Memorial Day / Decoration Day


Permit me an aside - I refer to it as Decoration Day because as a kid my great grandmother called it that. Each year she would get dressed up and decorate the graves of relatives, one of which served in the Civil War. Only later as an adult did I do some math and realize how our nation is not all that old. I was thirteen when my great grandmother passed away. I knew her well since we lived in the same town and visited her often. She lived to a ripe old age, into her mid-nineties. I have her driver's license and the year she was born was 1878. That was just thirteen years after Lincoln was assassinated. And I knew her well. Good heavens, how about that!

On to the contest. Given the topic, Memorial Day, it is only right that the topic be geared around those who served our nation. Here is how you enter the contest:

1. Tell us about an encounter or conversation you had with someone who has served our nation. It can be an impression you have from them, a story they told you, or maybe you have an item you inherited from someone who served - tell us about that.

There will be three winners chosen by random.org.

Each winner will receive a $50.00 credit to spend in our store on any items they like.

This is limited to CONUS only please.

We will let this run until a bit and then see who is chosen randomly.

~ The Captain
The man that hired me at the age of 14 was a vet of WW2. I worked there from the age of 14 through college, went out and saw the world for a few years and then was called and asked to come back. He lived to be 100 and the last few years were hard on him. He lived a very interesting life and once told a story that while in Germany in WW2 he and his guys were pinned down and surrounded. Guys were crying, some praying and he said he realized himself this was probably it. He came to terms with it and as they are taking rounds he said a plane came over them and started bombing all around them.

As he told this story to us in the break room back in the late 90's, he started crying. There were about 7 or 8 of us, me being the youngest and many people in the 30's through 50's. It was silent for a long time. He talked about carrying guys out that didn't make it. I owe a lot of what I have today in this world to that man. He made you think hard, work harder and at the end of the day you were better for it. He loved God, his family, his company and community.

A more fun story was when him and a bunch of buddies went after Dillinger when he was supposedly in the area. That one will have to wait.

By the way, not in, just wanted to share my story as it makes me remember him.

About thirty years ago, I met a fellow who quickly became one of my closest friends, despite being about forty years my senior. One day early in our friendship, he told me he had been having nightmares for years and slept very poorly. When I asked about this, he handed me a book "Danger's Hour" from his bookcase and asked me to read it.

The book was riveting. It recounted the day of May 11, 1945, when the USS Bunker hill, an Essex-class carrier just off Okinawa, was struck by two kamikazes. Three hundred fifty two were confirmed killed, forty-one were missing and two hundred sixty-four were injured. It is a story of incredible bravery and heroism. I returned the book to my friend and he took me into his den and showed me this photo as he explained the reason behind his nightmares:

HDB USS Bunker Hill World War II - Only six in photo survived kamakaze attack.jpg
My friend is the fourth man from the left in the third row. He grew up dirt poor on a farm in rural Georgia and after Pearl Harbor was attacked, he enlisted the Navy at the age of fifteen. He was assigned to the USS Bunker Hill where he served on the hanger deck, servicing and loading ordinance on the aircraft. All but six of the men in this photo were killed on May 11, 1945. My friend and several others, who were manning machine gun positions on the side of the ship during the attack, had to jump into the sea when the fire and explosions from the attack and detonation of ammunition and ordinance reached their machine gun position. He spent the night floating in the sea, witnessing about half of those near him succumbing to shark attacks, before being picked up by another ship.

Reading the account of those brave sailors and hearing first-hand from my friend how that day affects him even now (he recently celebrated his 94th birthday), really brought home the sacrifice that many of our fellow Americans have made to protect and secure our freedoms. I pray that their sacrifice will never be forgotten and that we, as a nation, will treasure the liberty that we far too often take for granted.


A number of years ago, before I was married, I lived in an apartment complex. I used to see an elderly gentleman standing outside quite a bit. One day I stopped and introduced myself. His name was Lou. Lou was always looking for a ride to the bank or to the supermarket, and I would help him out as much as I could. My own father is a WWII vet...he was in the Army in New Guinea, and growing up, he would always call me into the living room when the documentary 'World at War' came on. Watching those documentaries growing up, I used to build model tanks...Sherman, Tiger, Panther, T-34...anyway...I had an interest in the equipment, especially the armor.

Well...one day, Lou came into my apartment..I was grabbing something before heading out to take him to the supermarket...and I had a book lying open on my kitchen table...German Armor in WWII...the page was open to a picture of a Panther tank. Lou immediately went over to the book and said, "I saw one of those up close." I stopped cold. I asked him, "Where was that?" He responded, "In a field in France. We were all hunkered down in a field...high grass and one of those pulled into the field." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. He continued, "The tank crew must not have known we were there, but it didn't take them long to realize they'd just pulled into a field full of GI's."

At this point, I think my mouth was hanging open waiting for his next words. He said, "But when they realized they were in a bad place, they let off a round from the main cannon and sprayed the field with the bow machine gun and backed out of the field as fast as they could." At this point, I had to sit down. He continued, "We stayed down and covered up, but when it the tank was gone and we got up to leave, mu buddy next to me didn't get up...he'd been hit by a round from that tank's MG. It got to the point where...you didn't want to make friends because of things like that."

I came to find out that Lou was a thirty caliber machine gunner. He was in North Africa, Italy...pulled out for D-Day and went all the way into Germany. Lou died about ten years ago on Memorial Day of all days.

I never looked at those books the same ever again. God forgive me...
Not in. However, I can recall vividly talking with my Granddad, on my mom's side, about WWII. He didn't usually talk to anyone about those times, but because I was in the military, he would talk to me. He would tell me that it really wasn't such a big deal as he "only had a bullet whiz by his head once." He considered his service to be something that was reasonable for the opportunity to live in this great nation. I will always have respect for those who serve, regardless of how much or how little that sacrifice costs them.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
My grandpa passed away late last year. He was in the Army and served in Korea, I think as a tail gunner. He never talked about it until his last couple of years, and even then only spoke about his time there in generalities, never specifics. After he died, I asked my aunt if she knew whether he had any records or mementos from his time in the Army. She said not a chance. Apparently, the reason he never talked about it was that he lied about his birth date in order to enlist before he was 18. Some part of him, even at 85 years old, was worried that he would get in trouble for it. So he didn't keep any of his stuff and he never really talked about it.

I also mentored a friend for a year who served in Iraq. He suffered from severe PTSD and I learned a lot about the struggles that our veterans go through when they come home from active duty. They certainly deserve to be appreciated far more than they are.
Just read, think should be entered for Robert.

Hello all,

Recently I was staying in my vehicle on a road trip from back home. My father has recently passed away and I drove out to be there for his wife and for the arrangements. While "truck camping" in Needles, CA I was shaving one evening and was approached by a homeless gentleman wearing a 1st Cavalry hat. At first he asked if I could help him with any change for food. I handed him a $20 bill and told him that I was going to be cooking soon and he was more than welcome to join me for a hot meal to which he happily accepted. I cooked this gentleman a New York strip steak on my hibachi and served him his steak with a side of sauteed mushrooms and green beans. This man broke down into tears in front of me which with all I had going on caused me to break down myself. We then spent the next five or so hours chatting near the fire pit I had made. He had made mention of his time in the Vietnam conflict and how it was hard for him to adjust after returning home. I shared with him my story of my time in the Army and we laughed, cussed and reminisced of time gone past. He then started inquiring about seeing me wet shaving while camping. He said how he figured it would have been easier to just use a modern razor or an electric one. I explained to him my fascination and obsession with practicing the old ways of shaving and he smiled and said how glad he was that people still remember things from his past era. The man had looked like he hadn't shaved in months and I asked him if he would like to try it out and he was so happy to give it a try he nearly could not stop smiling. Now, I have seen many people wet shave over the years but this man took my brush, soap and bowl and whipped up a lather that would make soap manufacturers gasp in awe. He then proceeded to stretch and pull his face and glide my Rockwell over his face. This man transformed in front of my eyes and I could see the old soldier come out within him as he gussied himself up. After he rinsed and pat his face dry he hugged me and said it had been many years since someone had even taken the time to have a conversation with him and even longer since someone had expressed even the slightest of a care towards him. We cracked a beer, said a toast and drank one under the stars. Afterwards he told me he had best be on his way as he was unsure where his feet would take him through the night but he wanted to get a good start. Before he left I emptied out my dopp kit and placed my Rockwell, Brush, bowl, Soap and aftershave in it along with several packs of blades and gave it to him as a parting gift. He proceeded to break down again and wrapped his arms around me in a thankful embrace before shaking my hand and saying "God bless you soldier!". I literally watched this man walk off through the brush with tears in my eyes of both happiness and sadness. Knowing now what this man had been through, how he came to be in the situation he is in and knowing I made a good memory for him even if it may be his last great one. However I hold in my heart that I am certain everytime he uses that razor he will likely remember the guy he met in the hell of California known as Needles.

I know this is long but after having been off the forum for a while with all that has happened I thought I should share this as he has been on my mind a lot lately. There is far too little good in this world anymore and I hope that this experience I had and have shared with you will hopefully touch someone else's heart and encourage them to do something great for someone no matter how big or small. Just know that it will be appreciated.

Robert Jordan
A Co. 2nd Batt. 81st Armor, 4th Platoon

BOSC, BOSS, Karve Diem, Artists' Club
Hot Sauce Pepper Heads Club


Social Media Guru
Not in, but an old coworker of mine carried a lot of trauma from Vietnam. He unfortunately took the life of an enemy who turned out to be a adolescent soldier with a machine gun. He didn't speak of it much, needless to say.
Unfortunately, my story is similar to @KeenDogg. My mother's side of the family had three brothers that served in WWII. One was in the 100th Battalion, another in the 442, and a third in the MIS. the brother that served in the 100th Battalion came back with a lot of mental trauma. this was before they invented the term PTSD. He kept to himself, held a job but got drunk after work every night, and generally was considered the black sheep of the family. Luckily my mother accepted him as he was and taught me to respect him. He would not talk about his experience in the war except when he got drunk (which was most of the time), and I listened to him talk of his experiences. It was not a fun time for him and for the others Nisei soldiers and I learned that for every story of glory, there was more stories of trauma. This past year prevented me from returning to Hawaii, however every time I do so, I make a trip to Punchbowl to put flowers on all my uncles' graves and talk with them telling them how they influenced my life and thanking them for making the world better.
My grandfather served in Vietnam. He had many stories. One in particular was on top of "hill 362" (I think) during operation hastings. He was on top of a hill in a foxhole when he kept hearing a noise. He says the moon must have come out from beyond a cloud because, just all of a sudden, there was a face that was clearly not American. He fired a burst center mass and that was that. He'd then explain, that during most firefights, it's often very difficult to know who killed who, whereas, in this case, there was no question that he'd killed this young man that "couldn't have been a day over 20". When he searched the body for weapons he found pictures of a young woman that he assumed was his wife or girlfriend. It really got to him.

Funny thing...I didn't get why he found it so upsetting as a child. Now I find it absolutely haunting
My maternal grandfather served in the Air Force and was stationed in Alaska during the Cold War. Growing up we would talk frequently about the Air Force and he was extremely proud of his service there. One day, when I was maybe 12 or 13, we were sitting and chatting and he told me to always thank a veteran when you see one because you never know what they might have gone through during their time in the service. Honestly, at the time, I really had no concept of what he was getting at, but, that conversation really stuck with me. To this day, any time I see a veteran, I always thank them and think of my grandfather who has now passed on.

A few years ago, when my paternal grandparents had passed away, I was willed their house and a chunk of property. On the property we have a family cemetery that had fallen somewhat into neglect. We have six veteran's buried in that cemetery going back to the Civil War and I made it a point last year to take my son over and clean all of the headstones. I want to be able to pass on the respect that was given to me by my grandfather to my son. I feel that is the best way I can honor them.

My first boss who was more of a grandfather signed up for the Navy at 17 after Pearl Harbor. His mother had to go and sign with him. He wound up being a mechanic and some times gunner on a sub chaser searching for Japanese subs in the Pacific mainly around the Alaskan Islands. All his stories where about the "fun" things and friends he made. The only time he got serious and regretful was when they had located one of the small Japanese radio bases dug into the side of a small cliff on one of the islands. He was made to be the gunner and had to shoot some sort of phosphorus shell into the "cave". You could tell it bothered him to talk about seeing the burning bodies rolling down the side of the small cliff.

He'd much rather regal you with stories like the time the men snuck a prostitute onto the ship and carried her from Hawaii to California---he said she got a little worn out looking by the end lol. There was a time that they were transporting a brand spanking new Admiral who was a real jerk. The Admiral decided to flex his new authority and made the crew start doing bodily exercises on the deck---jumping jacks, push ups, etc.. My Boss explained something about how the Admiral didn't have actual command over them and how the Captain was the one in charge of everyone on the ship. In front of everyone the Captain tore into the Admiral, explained the rules, and then made the Admiral join in on the exercises with the men. He was a Captain that took care of his men. His own personal perk was that he was in charge of the equipment that distilled drinking water from sea water. He could bleed off enough pure water to rinse his clothes out while everyone else's clothes were washed in sea water and had to suffer the rough stickiness that entailed.

A friend of the boss would often come by to visit for a while. He served during Korea and Vietnam. All he would say was how cold it was in Korea. The next boss was a medic in Vietnam that would pick up the wounded in helicopters. He wouldn't talk much about it because of the sheer number of dying men he had to deal with.
One of my friends in grad school was a Marine Corps captain. It turns out we had gone to the same university for undergrad and he'd graduated a year before I did. Given how large our school was, it was unsurprising that we didn't meet until we were in the same grad program at a different school years later.

He didn't talk much about his time in Afghanistan, but he did tell me a couple things about his time over there. First, he told me that regardless of job title, every Marine is a rifleman, this included the JAG corps officers who were also stationed in Aghganistan.

He also told me a little about his patrols. He told his men that when in doubt, shoot first. He didn't want them to end up dead or wounded because they hesitated at a crucial moment.

During our final year of school, he was notified that he would likely be recalled to active duty. This was at a time when his wife was pregnant and they'd just settled down near her family. His deployment overseas had stressed his marriage before. With the help of her family, their marriage had survived. He was concerned that if he were recalled and sent back overseas, it would ruin his marriage. Fortunately, he wasn't recalled before his IRR time expired.

I have nothing but the most profound respect and admiration for those who serve our nation. The risk not only their lives and their health, but also their families to achieve our nation's goals and objectives, including protecting those of us at home. It's a sad truth that the divorce rate among servicemembers is higher than that of civilians.


George Bailey Fanboy
I'm going to lighten up the mood, believe it or not.

I think it was my birthday, but anyway, I was working second shift in a rest home as the floor nurse.

One of my patients was a Vietnam veteran. He used a wheelchair, and went ALL OVER that place.

I always had fun, joking around with my coworkers and the patients. So this vet rolls by me as I'm joking around with the girls at work, just then I said to him "I look pretty good for 47, don't you think?"

He says "yeah, you look pretty good for 57."

I says, "no, I said I look pretty good for 47."

He says, "Oh....you don't look so good."

I laughed so hard I almost wet myself. The man was pretty deaf, but I'll never know if he knew what he was doin' or not! But I don't think a professional comedian could have had better timing!


Social Media Guru
I'm going to lighten up the mood, believe it or not.

I think it was my birthday, but anyway, I was working second shift in a rest home as the floor nurse.

One of my patients was a Vietnam veteran. He used a wheelchair, and went ALL OVER that place.

I always had fun, joking around with my coworkers and the patients. So this vet rolls by me as I'm joking around with the girls at work, just then I said to him "I look pretty good for 47, don't you think?"

He says "yeah, you look pretty good for 57."

I says, "no, I said I look pretty good for 47."

He says, "Oh....you don't look so good."

I laughed so hard I almost wet myself. The man was pretty deaf, but I'll never know if he knew what he was doin' or not! But I don't think a professional comedian could have had better timing!
That sounds like you met your older self, Dave!


George Bailey Fanboy
You ain't kidding there.
I had the honor of practicing a little nursing today. Can't (won't) go into to many details, but someone close to my lovely War Department and I was admitted to hospice officially today and I was able to assist (very minimally) in their care.

Pray for a hospice nurse if you think of it today. It is both the most gratifying and soul wrenching work I ever did as a nurse. How people like the nurse I assisted today can do that daily for YEARS is beyond anything I can imagine. Seriously, they are the Angels among us.
I spent three months in rehab about five years ago. Everybody had to take turns being the welcoming committee, showing new patients the ropes, but after a few weeks I basically got "volunteered" to take care of all the new guys. Part of the reason for that is that I was kept in the detox unit for my whole stay, where normally guys would only be in there for a week or two, depending on the severity of their condition on admit. I stayed in there the whole time because it was the only room with a handicap accessible bathroom, which I needed at the time (don't ask).

So I ended up being the seasoned veteran to all the new guys that came in. I was OK with it. I kind of liked helping the newbies. Gave me a sense of purpose during what was otherwise a really hard chapter of my life, a time when I felt totally devoid of purpose.

A couple of weeks before I completed my stay, this new guy comes in. From day one, this dude kept completely to himself, didn't talk to anybody, didn't even interact with anybody. Didn't even make eye contact. Scuttlebutt was that he was a veteran of Afghanistan. He was there on court order, not because he wanted to be. Hence no interaction with anyone. He was just trying to serve out his time and GTFO.

Everybody there had PTSD. Some had it worse than others. I had it pretty damned bad myself. I knew nobody was going to reach this guy unless he expressly allowed it. And he was closed for business. So I left the guy alone.

A few days before I checked out, I told my story in one of our daily 12 step meetings. It was routine, everybody told their story as they approached the end of their stay. This guy would come to the meetings, but, of course, never participate. I had no reason to believe he was even listening to me as I told my story. But something I said must have resonated with him (I've been through some stuff). He spoke for the first time that evening in our room. That night I took some of his load upon my own shoulders, and I've carried it ever since. It's not the kind of thing you forget.

I left a few days later. I gave him my phone number and email address, but he never contacted me after that. I have no idea where he is or if he's even still alive. I have my fears based on what I learned that night. But they just get added to the load.

Thank a vet.
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