Veterans Day always sits heavy on me. Growing up a military brat, I’ve seen first hand the sacrifices that are made daily by those who serve. The big and the little sacrifices that provides for the common defense. I witnessed mostly the little things. I’ve only heard stories about the big ones. One of those stories is the experience of my wife’s grandpa.
Bob landed in Normandy 3 weeks after the invasion. One of the first things he witnessed was an American GI who had been run over by a tank and killed. A quick introduction to the atrocities of war and a stark reminder of what he was in for.
As a member of the infantry, Bob was tasked with a group to scout different areas for headquarters. Out on a mission, the group came under heavy fire to the front of their formation. A soldier in the lead was injured and there was a mad scramble to get him to safety. The group in back set up cover fire for the others and an order to retreat was given. While laying down covering fire and yelling “Drop back! DROP BACK!”, the group began to retreat while trying to fend off the enemy. Bob began to drop back, continuing to yell and lay down cover fire. He did so until he was the only one left firing and the injured soldier and the rest of the squad retreated to safety.
For this he received the Silver Star, the third highest military decoration. He was able to return to Ohio in one piece and became a teacher. He recently turned 97 and shows no signs of slowing down. He looks as though he’ll blast through the century mark like an M1A1. He lives alone and only stopped driving in the past few years. He is incredibly fun to be around and you need only do so for a very short period of time to realize why his is called the “Greatest Generation“.
I feel a great deal of appreciation and pride for Bob and those like him who were called into service and did so with great selflessness, valor, and honor. Thank you, Grandpa! We honor you today and will not soon forget what you’ve done. Today is the day we set aside to remember.