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Mark P

D-Day. 76 years ago today....

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13 minutes ago, Jennings Heilig said:

Indeed.  

 

And appropriate words that have never been truer than today:  

 

"Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it."

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, the problem is precisely that many remember history very well and want to repeat it. ^_^ 

Radu 

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My Dad was in that. He really didn't talk much about it . Out of 123 men of the original men that was in his group during the war only 23 made it back.  I think a lot of those guy's wanted to forget about the war and move on. 

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2 hours ago, Radub said:

 

Actually, the problem is precisely that many remember history very well and want to repeat it. ^_^ 

Radu 

 

ouch!!!!

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I had an uncle from Philadelphia who was in "The Red Devils" tank division. If memory serves me correctly, he was a driver. He NEVER wanted to talk about his experiences. I think he was traumatized for life.

My father had a cousin who was a Navigator in the RCAF. Flew 79 missions in the war. Also quite traumatized, but oddly, unlike my uncle, he had no problems talking about what he and his mates went through. People respond differently to these types of trauma. They are all heroes to me, and they truly are "The Greatest Generation". Sadly, the veterans of this horrific conflict are almost all gone now, and who will bear witness after they ARE all gone? That is what worries me at night. As it should all of us, who cherish freedom and democracy. Sorry, don't want to get preachy here. Lest we forget.....

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I was a ground zero eyewitness to 9/11. I can understand not wanting to talk about things you see during such times; my grandfather never spoke to me about his time in the PTO, and he was a Marine Air Corps pilot so not even on the front down in the dirt. I don't enjoy telling people I watched helplessly as office workers tumbled from windows. But I tell my story every 9/11 to my students so it won't be forgotten (by some at least) and to let off some of the pressure the memories build inside me.

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6 hours ago, J.C. said:

Sadly, the veterans of this horrific conflict are almost all gone now

 

Indeed so.  That's why I treasure every opportunity to interact with them.  I've had several patients who were WWII vets recently, including one retired Navy nurse who served on Guadalcanal in 1943/44!  She was amazed that I knew about Guadalcanal.

 

I may have told the story here before, but I love it so much I'm going to tell it again.  About 12 years ago when I was working in the ICU in Virginia, I got a patient admitted with cardiac issues.  Older men sometimes look askance at a middle aged guy coming in and telling them he's their nurse, so I always tried to break the ice by asking if they were a veteran.  He said he was, and I asked if he was WWII or Korea.  He answered WWII, but didn't seem very forthcoming.  I asked what service, and he said Navy.  So I said "Pacific or Atlantic?".  Atlantic.  Then his wife chimed in and said "Well go ahead, tell him what you did!"  So then I got really interested.

 

Turns out he was a coxswain's mate, whose job was to pilot an LCVP that hung on the fantail davits on an LST.  During Exercise Tiger in April 1944, he was on the LST at his station when the S-boats attacked and torpedoed the LST.  The German torp hit directly underneath where his LCVP was hanging, blowing it completely clear of the ship, where it landed on top of him upside down amidst the burning oil and other debris.  About 750 US soldiers were killed in the attack.  If you're not familiar, look up Operation Tiger, and watch the "Foyle's War" episode about it.  

 

He said they were sworn to secrecy and told never to breathe a word of it to anyone.  Exercise Tiger and the fiasco that led to all the American deaths was classified until the mid-1980s.  I had read up on it after watching "Foyle's War", and had learned that one of the German S-boats used in the attack had survived the war and been given to the Polish navy as war reparations.  They used it for several decades, and it finally found its way to the UK, where it was then under restoration.  Mind you, this was *the* S-boat that had launched the torpedo that hit this man's LST!  There was a BBC program on the restoration which was on YouTube.

 

So after I got him settled in, I pulled one of our mobile computer workstations into his room and brought up the YouTube video to show him.  I told him that this was the *actual* boat that had launched the torpedo that had changed his life that day in 1944.  As he watched he started to cry, so I left him alone with his wife.

 

A little while later she came out to the nurse's station and told me that he said that was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for him, and that it had only been in the previous couple of years that he had begun talking about his experience.  Their grandson had told him that Exercise Tiger had been declassified, so it was okay for him to talk about it.  Her telling me that brought tears to *my* eyes.

 

Sadly, that gentleman died a couple of days later, but that brief interaction is one of the most moving things I've ever experienced.  

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Just saw this thread. The wife and myself were at Omaha Beach on June 5th last year. The cruise ship we were on took us there for about 10 hours or so. It was truly a special experience walking in the American Cemetery where so many youngsters made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. Another special place is Pointe du Hoc where so many Rangers died while trying to scale the cliffs to capture that position.

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