My father was a Sergeant in the army. I’d heard him talk about being in WWII many times as I was growing up, but he never talked about the horrible parts…at least, not to me or my sisters. He told my brother about it though, who said the stories were terrible.
Dad was born in Kentucky, one of eight children. His great-grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee. His great-grandfather was one of the first 6 families to settle Boonsboro, Kentucky with Daniel Boone. Several years after he was born, the family moved to Indiana.
Having grown up in the backwoods, my father was an experienced tracker and hunter. I remember walking through the woods with him and trying to be as quiet as he was. It just wasn’t possible. The skills Dad had were not ones that would be looked upon favorably by modern society, so he always felt out of place.
Dad managed to stay in school until the 8th grade, but he had severe learning disabilities that prevented him from learning to read until he was in his late 50s. He was good with machinery, but without being able to read, directional manuals didn’t help at all. Fortunately, he could look at a machine and pretty much understand how it worked just by seeing it.
He was often ridiculed for being an uneducated hillbilly. None-the-less, when he joined the army, they had a place for him. I think that’s why his years in the service made such a strong impression on him. He was in reconnaissance. He could creep around without making a sound and he was a dead shot with any gun you put into his hands. He’d finally found a place where his skills were looked upon favorably, a place where he felt he belonged.
I’m proud of his service to this country. I’m glad for his sake that he found a place where he felt useful, because I don’t know that he ever felt that way again.