George never talked very much about what happened to him during WWII. He returned our copy of Ernie Pyle's "Brave Men" about a week after he borrowed it with the comment.: "I can't read it, it brings back too many memories." That's when we found out he'd been in Italy. George served in the 45th, Thunderbird, infantry division. He was in the Oklahoma Guard for training when the war started and he didn't get out until the war was over. I believe he was a sergeant at the end of the war, but he mustered out as a private. He and some buddies didn't feel like waiting for official permission to leave Fort Dix. His rank was restored several years ago. He claims the closest he came to physical harm was when a bullet cut through the strap on his rifle. I can't imagine the memories he came back with. From what I've read about Italy, take "Band of Brothers"-tripled. The division served in Sicily, Anzio, Italy, southern France and Germany. For some small idea of what it was like, try Bill Mauldin's "Up Front." His shoulder patch had a Thunderbird on it, too.
George came home, married-no children, worked construction, and nursed his first wife though a long illness. He found love again, drove the Alcan highway-twice, and made numerous highway trips home to Oklahoma. He was always there when a neighbor needed help.
George doesn't drive anymore. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about three years ago. He still stands as straight as he ever did. He waves when he sees me. His wife, Eileen, is caring for him with the same love he showed when it was his turn. What goes around does come around.
2 days ago