This is an insight into war as told to me by veterans I knew or knew of.
“They gave me a motorcycle and a .45 revolver and I delivered mail, dispatches, and messages up and down muddy roads in France. I worked for the U.S. Air Mail Service out of Newark Airport until I retired 30 years later. I met and had my picture taken with Charles Lindbergh.” – Private Robert Rutherford, U.S. Army, France, WW1
“I was at a church social after the war, when a woman asked me how I felt after I killed my first Japanese soldier. I said to her ‘Madam, I was too busy killing the second Jap behind him to think about it.’” – Platoon Sgt. Henry Jackiewicz, U.S. Marine Scout Sniper, South Pacific, WW2
“His supply ship was hit by two torpedoes from a German U-boat. The boat still got to its port because the cargo was waterproof telephone poles. My father never complained about the phone company after the war.” – Fred Goddard Jr., reading the eulogy at the funeral of his dad, Fred Goddard Sr., U.S. Navy, North Atlantic, WW2
“I was with a cryptology unit when a demolitions sergeant walked into our tent and put a box of C-4 explosives with a plunger on the table. He said to us, ‘If the Germans overrun us, don’t fight them – just fall on this.’ And he walked out of the tent.” – Private Robert E. Rutherford, U.S. Army, Battle of the Bulge, WW2
“It was damned cold!” – PFC Art Battista, U.S. Army, Korea
“My helicopter was hit by ground fire and I was going down. The only place to try for a safe landing was a river that was close by. That is when I got scared; I couldn’t swim!” – Warrant Officer Thomas Stryker, U.S. Army, Vietnam
“I was trained to be a radio man. My first day of action, the helicopter that I was in was hit by ground fire and my radio was shot to pieces. When we landed at the LZ, I told my story to a sergeant who handed me an M60 machine gun and said, ‘You’re a machine gunner now, son.’” – PFC Bernie Sterns, U.S. Army, Vietnam
“I served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in Afghanistan. I would prefer if you instead mentioned one of the many other men who made incredibly more sacrifices. My friend, Army SSG Jorge Oliveira, was a Portuguese immigrant who served four overseas deployments and was killed in action in Afghanistan on 19 October 2011.” – New Jersey National Guard Staff Sergeant Jason “Buck” Schriever, U.S. Army, Iraq and Afghanistan
“War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality.” – John McCain, Lieutenant Commander U.S. Navy, POW, and U.S. Senator, Vietnam
This Veterans Day, we salute all who served and all who are still guarding us around the world.