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Highlighting Memories this Memorial Day

My Grandpa died in March of this year.  He was in the Navy as a late teen, having lied about his age to get in early.  He was stationed in the Pacific War and the Korean War, he was your James Dean/Jack Palace type of soldier that would rather go AWOL for a party weekend, start a fight instead of get promoted, or guard the nurses cabins on hot nights.  He had tattoos of women’s names, most notably “Gert” (who is not my grandmother, mind you), which I never saw until he was in the hospital in February, when he made jokes about how skinny his legs were (“who the [censored]’s legs are those?”).  It’s memorial day, and I can’t stop thinking about him.

I have a few beloved friends who were in the Marines and the Army, and I am always fascinated by their stories – of fear, triumph, hard work, friendships, camaraderie, pranks, death, tradition, heroes, and politics.

Today on Reddit I was pleased to come across this AMA from an amazing granddaughter (NOT me, btw), helping to share the life of her grandfather (AMA stands for ‘Ask Me Anything’):

wCCsyTkIn honor of memorial day, I am an 88 year old WW2 aerial photographer/vet (self.IAmA)

by ilovemypapa

My granddaughter will be asking me the questions and she will be quoting me word-for-word. I was 18 years old, from a family of 8 brothers. I was a photo recon and served in the South Pacific from 1943-1946. I was a receiver of a Purple Heart, when I was shot in the ear by the Japanese after I had been taking pictures of bases. I now am almost deaf in that ear. In Leyte, Phillipines, I lived in a village where I owned a pet monkey and took pictures of the locals. I was a part of the 8-Ballers, which was a photo reconnoissance squadron. I am very knowledgeable in cameras, planes, and other pieces of technology. I even have an iPad that I research on daily. In 2010, I took the Honor Flight, where I was sent to DC with fellow veterans to visit memorials and speak. My experiences from the war are some of the fondest memories I have, and I would love to answer any questions you have. I have great recollection of things and am open to anything you might wonder about.

I encourage you to read through the questions from the community, and the answers provided by this World War II Vet.  My grandfather has passed, and I miss him every single day.  I may not have his exact memories, I do have his stories.  I wish I had done this with him, like “ilovemypapa.”  What a great tribute, and shared experience.

One of my favorite passages is as follows (something straight out of a movie):

Now that I am in a nursing home, I think of all the compassionate and understanding people and many of my nurses are Filipinos. I think these people work in hospitals and medical centers because they truly care about others

Edit Although I am fully functional my wife had an accident a couple of years ago where her leg was amputated and she has a bad case of Parkinsons. In order to be with her I decided to live in the nursing home with her. She has full recollection of everything. I also have spinal stenosis from crouching in the airplanes and I had to have both knees replaced. It is difficult for me to walk. But I have my iPad and a TV in my room along with war memorabilia!

If you have a loved one that is a Vet, please take some time to listen, care, and appreciate what they experienced (good and bad).

Izzy Neis
Director of Digital Strategy & Engagement

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Talk Back

Posted on May 28, 2013

Good read.. My grandfather was in the navy during the Korean war. I remember when I was younger, I used to get to see him marching in local parades with some other veterans where they wore these red bucket shaped hats. Good times. It was about 5 years ago that he died, in either June or July I believe. The last thing I remember of him was when he took me to a restaurant for my birthday in October of 2007 when he came to visit from out of state.

I had to laugh because he was hitting on the cute waitresses and flirting, something I never witnessed him do before. When he dropped me off at home, its like he knew and expected it to be the last time he would see me. He laughed and jokingly said, “I’ll see you next year if I’m still alive.” And that was it.

Posted on May 27, 2013

This is such a beautiful post. Very moving.

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