Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

This is my grandfather, Peter:

He is my height. The only one in the family as tall as me. Before the war he was a horticulturalist.

I love this pic. It's got a bit of a "What're YOU lookin' at?" going for it.

He enlisted in the Marines just a few days after my Mom was born. His service record we obtained via the Freedom of Information Act shows he went to Twenty Nine Palms (I believe... San Diego at least) for basic, then to Guadalcanal at "Camp Cactus," then he shipped out with 1stBn/7th Marine Regiment (First Division) to land on Peleliu, under Herman Hanneken and ultimately under the command of Chesty Puller (who was a good Marine, and a good Marine was he). He was a radioman in the Headquarters company.

He never left the island.

His Silver Star citation reads partly like boiler plate. Typed up by some clerk in Washington to not untowardly alarm his family. Words like "savage burst of hostile machine gun fire" and "died instantly" are listed, but they ring hollow.

I'd love to read what his CO wrote up recommending him for the decoration, but those record may well be lost to history.

What DOESN'T ring hollow in the cite is that he volunteered to repair communication wire breaks under fire to keep contact and coordination with fighting units who were battling "fierce Japanese resistance." This all happened in the Southwest sector of the battle. And he died on 19 September, 1944.

Here he is again:


My other grandfather (not pictured) was too old and too near-sighted to join up, proper. At first. He wanted the Navy, but had to 'settle' with the Army after Pearl Harbor, age 35. Before the war he ran a Five and Dime called Kresge's, and had a college degree, so they made him a Captain and he ran a PX or two in Pennsylvania. My grandmother cried and cried when he got orders to go to Europe, but they were eventually rescinded. He left the Army a Major in 1954 and he lived through to the 21st Century.

I think of both of them, now, on Memorial Day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it's good to know where we came from. You sound unfamiliar with Kresge. S.S. Kresge & Co. became K-mart in the early to mid 1960's.