Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jarhead Stories

Several decades ago, I got to sit down with my Uncle, a Marine from WW1. Rudy had served in France. He had plenty of war stories, but when ever any neighbors or friends asked him about his time in the Corps, he would shrug and tell them, "You really don't want to know."
The occasion of our visit was the death of his brother. I was sitting at a table after the funeral with my nephew. He was in the Corps, and had come to the funeral in uniform. Rudy sat down with us and started talking about his time in the corps. At first it was stuff about boot camp, and his time at Camp Lejune after the Armistice. After a few stories though, he began to talk about combat. As a young guy about to head off for basic, I was especially interested in what he had to tell. He mentioned being wounded at Mon Planc, actually Monte Blanc but I misunderstood him. He was a machine gunner. They set up by a large tree that afforded some shade, and as the battle comenced, a shell from the artillery barage burst in the upper branches of the tree. Uncle Rudy got shrapnel from that in his back, and his assistant gunner who was sitting at his side caught it in the face. They were the first two casualties from their unit, and saddly, the only two from it to survive.
He was proud of his service, and rightly so. He was also torn by it, A native of Germany, he volunteered for service, and was sent to fight against his home country. That troubled him, but pride in his adopted home fueled him.
That day was the only time he opened up about his time in the service. Many of our soldiers and Marines come home with out physical wounds. The memories though can haunt them for a life time. Nearly all of them cope with it, but all of them are changed by it. Freedom isn't free. These men pay a price so we can be. Free.
Thanks Marines.

No comments: