June 6, 2014

The Love of a Good Man

Posted in Faith, Just Life, WWII tagged , , , at 8:55 pm by catsinboxes

70 years ago, today, a young soldier landed on Omaha Beach. He arrived in a later wave, not one of the first waves, waves that were mown down by machine gun fire.

Charlie - Dover - April 1945

Later, he would remember and tell his grandchildren about the dead rabbits he saw. Since the Germans had blocked the beaches, the rabbit population had thrived, but the initial allied bombardment had killed many of the rabbits. He never mentioned the bodies, just the rabbits.

He was 18 years old the summer of 1944, the son of a Georgia sharecropper. He had wanted to join the war and fight for his country, and he was glad when he was drafted. His employer was not glad and quite upset to be losing such a fine, hard-worker.

In the days following D-Day, the young soldier’s unit moved across Normandy. He remember these days and would tell the light-hearted stories . . .

The time he hit the ground during machine gun fire, only to find himself in a bed of the most delicious strawberries. . .

Or, sober stories:

As a forward observer, his pack got tangled and his buddy, Private Walter Moore from Chatanooga, TN, was trying to loosen it. Moore had just given up when a German round, probably a mortar, exploded right next to them. Moore took the full impact of the explosion.

Years later, after the war, the young soldier took a train through Chatanooga. He wanted to stop, to find Moore’s family and talk to them, but he was not able to do it. Like many soldiers, he would be haunted by the question, Why him and not me?

Only God knows the answer to that question, but I know the rest of the young soldier’s story.

Charlie at Siegfried Line, Germany March 1946

He served in Europe through the rest of World War II. After the war, he became an officer. He returned to Europe during the postwar years, and also served in China until the Communist take-over.

While in Germany, he met a young, American school teacher. He returned to the United States, but a correspondence blossomed. He proposed in a letter, she accepted, and they were married.

Charlie and Jan in front of Chapel - July 14, 1962

He served in two more wars: Korea and Vietnam.

He was the father of four daughters and, in time, the grandfather of 11 grandchildren.

Charlie with Holly - 10 weeks

Last Sunday, he went home to be with the Lord. He was 89 years old.

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He loved God. He loved his family, and he loved his country.

He was my grandfather.

His story is not unlike the story of many other men whom we remember today, yet for me it is so much more than a story. It is a life well and fully lived. I am proud to be his granddaughter.

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