Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

If Only The Dead Could Talk

Family, Military History, Veterans, Memorial Day, WWII, Normandy Invasion, 9th Infantry Division, Guest Post

Today is Memorial Day.

The day we honor and remember those who have given the last full measure of devotion by sacrificing their lives in service to our country.

Dad survived the war and lived to talk of it much later in his life.  Many of his comrades did not survive to speak of their experiences.

Dad has been gone about a year now but he recently returned.  His ashes were delivered several weeks ago by the Medical College of Wisconsin's Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy.  What to do with them?  I have a notion to scatter at least some of them in a Norman hedgerow but I'll discuss it with Brother first.

In any event I'd like to honor dad's memory, including those service members - especially those members of the 9th Infantry Division - who have gone before, with a brief story lifted from his memoirs.


It was a warm morning in Normandy.

As usual our machine gun squad was attached to the lead rifle company.  Our advance through the hedgerows had bogged down.  Out of habit we began digging slit trenches.

Suddenly, the division commander, General Manton S. Eddy, appeared on the scene walking at a fast clip toward the front and followed by an M.P.   Incoming mail was getting closer and closer and more frequent.  As General Eddy passed he could be heard muttering words which I recall were - What in hell is holding us up?  What I remember most was the General's calm demeanor.  He gave nary a flinch regarding the 88mm's while his bodyguard looked like he wasn't sure what to do.

This was the only time I saw our esteemed leader.  It was shortly after this visit that we got our asses in gear and struggled forward.

Days later we played cat and mouse with a jerry tank which had backed into the entrance of some Frenchman's barn. As I recall, several of us ran like hell across open ground while the tank let go with everything it had.  Because of the unique sharp, cracking sound of a bullet or missile passing overhead, I truly felt that one of the rounds, an 88mm fired by the tank, cleared my head by a fraction of an inch.  The velocity of the round, fired point blank, lifted the helmet from my head. 

I retrieved my helmet after the situation quieted down.

I'm not sure of the psychological term for certain experiences, but this was the second time in Normandy that my entire life flashed before my eyes.  We felt like ducks in a shooting gallery, but somehow we beat the odds that day.

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