A Nerd's Revenge

A not so serious look at life.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Of War and Men

Both my grandfathers served in WWII. The first was a nose gunner on a bomber. I want to say a B-17, but I believe it was actually a smaller plane. Airmen would amass mission points according to how many runs they had successfully completed (i.e. survived) and the casualty rates for bombing crews over Europe were extremely high. He was on one of the first planes to come home after the war ended.

The second was a paratrooper that made the fateful D-Day jump on Normandy. He was dropped off course, but survived the initial fighting. Later, he was wounded when the Jeep he was riding in hit a land mine. He still bears a scar that stretches down the side of his head and neck.

I believe every person handles traumatic events in different ways.

The first never speaks of the war and to this day hates to fly on planes. This is probably a direct result of his pilot's bombing tactics. His pilot would attack by diving at targets. Maybe this is what ultimately kept them alive, however, as a nose gunner my Grandfather always had a front row seat to death.

The second frequently speaks of his war time experiences as if it were yesterday. Kind of strange, but I watched a few Band of Brothers episodes with him a couple years ago at Christmas. He actually knew and could relate stories about the main characters in the series. It was very surreal.

My Dad seems to think that the paratrooper saw some very hairy fighting, but ultimately, the airman actually witnessed much more death and destruction. He carries his scar internally.

I saw both of them at my brother's wedding a few monthes ago and it has reminded me of the passage of time. I keep telling myself that I should grab my camera and record their stories before it is too late. I hope I follow through.

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