We hadn’t gone more than a hundred yards or so when an enemy rose up in front of us and started spraying us with a Schmeizer machine gun or ‘burp gun’ as we called them. We hit the ground and I, for one, just tried to get closer to the earth without returning fire immediately. What did happen immediately was that they started throwing in artillery or mortar fire (or both) on us.
About this time I figured my number was up. I found that I just accepted the fact. My thoughts were about how sad my mother would be when they got the news.
I was sure that I was about to die and didn’t. I have not feared death since and have realized how great it is to be alive, regardless of circumstances.
I can remember these couple of days quite clearly because they were an experience that has been paramount in my life.
Charlie Green writing about his Service during World War II
I’ve been away from the blog and podcast for the past two weeks with my family in Richmond, Virginia. Thank you for your many inquiries and expressions of support while I have been away, I apologize for not being able to respond to them sooner.
My father, Charlie Green, passed away peacefully at the age of 91 on September 9th surrounded by the ones he loved.
The quote above is a small sample of what he wrote about his experiences during the second world war. His life did not end on that hill in France 73 years ago, he would live on to father four children, and enjoy 52 years of marriage with my mother Shirley who passed away in 1998.
Dad was drafted in 1943 when he graduated high school and became a private in F Company 101st Infantry, 26th Yankee Division. I have tried to imagine how difficult it must have been to leave home at eighteen and spend the next two tumultuous years in the service. Dad carried the anxiety for two brothers in the service and the responsibility to support his mother after his father’s untimely death. I also realized how close Dad came to being a name on a white cross in a field in France, and how much we owe the men that do lie beneath them.
We enjoy the privilege and blessings of freedom today because of what he and millions of the greatest generation did for us.
At his request I read the poem “Soldier” by Vietnam Veteran George L. Sypeck at his funeral last Saturday –
I was that which others did not want to be.
I went where others feared to go,
and did what others failed to do.
I asked nothing from those who gave nothing
and reluctantly accepted the thought of eternal loneliness … should I fail.
I have seen the face of terror; felt the stinging cold of fear; enjoyed
the sweet taste of a moment’s love.
I have cried, pained and hoped … but, most of all,
I have lived the times others would say were best forgotten.
At least someday, I will be able to say that I am proud of what I was …
Dad will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in mid October.
Verl Dasher says
Mr. Green, I just finished reading “The Scouting Journey” and I want you to know that I enjoyed it immensely. I am sorry to see that your father died, may he rest in peace. I’m going to recommend your book to all of my scouter friends. Thanks for writing the book. You put words to many of my feelings. Happy Trails!
Dave Griffin says
Thanks for sharing Clarke. I immediately was flooded with thoughts of my dad, his service to our nation and like your dad the sacrifices they made. He passed 10 years ago and I miss him every single day. I manage because I find hope in his spirit that lives on in his grandchildren and a host of other people. I hope you can do the same. Look, he’s there in you and countless other people he touched.
They truly are America’s greatest generation.
God’s peace to you and your family.
Uche Akwuba II says
I’m sorry for your loss. It is very generous to share this. Thank you to you and your father. Thank you for your service and letting us know about his.
William Jn Debiec says
You should be proud of your Dad. He made an enormous contribution to what we have today. Blessings!
Philip Ingram says
My deepest sympathies on your loss. A good useful live well lived is the greatest blessing a man can have. It seems like your father had such a life and deserved it.
Bill Chapman says
Clarke, I was worried when I did not see any activity on your various media and appreciated the post about taking care of family business. We all agree that that comes first. We are all saddened that the loss of your father in a way that just cannot be expressed in words. The fact that your father was such a valiant man makes the loss even more poignant. However, for those of us who believe that there is something even more important than life itself, his example of bravery and courage is stirring, indeed. When I read your post, it not only made my eyes well up with tears but it made me realize that all of my own personal fears and struggles are nothing in comparison to the bigger things in life.
One of the things I love so much about your philosophy, character and style of teaching is that you are always turning a small problem into something that melts away when we step back and look at the bigger picture. I can’t tell you how many times I have read one of your blog posts or listened to you read one of your emails on the podcast and felt like I would have no idea how to solve that problem and probably my efforts would’ve made the problem worse.
When I listen to your response, I realized that many times if we look at the problem or question with the big picture in mind, the solution or answer comes to us quickly and easily.
Now that I have read your post above and have a little better understanding of who your father was, I would echo the old refrain, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” We love you, your family and our prayers and thoughts will be with you during this difficult time. However, we join with you in celebrating the life of a true American hero, your dad!
Clarke Green says
Thanks Bill, that means a great deal.
Brad Watts says
Clarke, I am oh so very sorry to read of your loss. I too hope you find some peace and joy in your memories. I am also very thankful to you for sharing his story in this post.
I have huge admiration for him, and for his generation. When i am not reading scouting stuff, I am reading autobiographies and memoirs and I try to focus on those from WW2 vets. I would be interested in reading more of your father’s writings.
You and your family are in my prayers.
Paul Teel says
Very sorry to hear this Clarke. I wish you and your family all the best. Your dad seems to have been a very special man and his service lives on through you. We’ve missed you the last couple of weeks.
Robert Grimes says
It’s a bitter sweet pride to be the son of a soldier. When you hold your head high, eye wet with tears.
Thank you to your father for his service. I am sorry for your loss.
Jim Woods says
Thank you for sharing. It’s obvious how much your father gave in service, and I am thankful for him and men (and women) like him. The story you posted reminded me of how little most of them wanted to talk until very late in life, and how much poorer we are from what we’ve missed hearing.
What a beautiful tribute to your Dad! May he rest in peace and may you keep him alive in your heart by all the great memories you shared. Thank you Mr. Greene for your service to your country!
Kristian Wang says
My father was a small boy growing up in occupied Norway while your father was helping to save the world. The fact that he was willing to give his life has made my father’s life and my life possible. Thanks to you and your father. My wishes and prayers are with you at this time.
Clarke Green says
Thank you Kristain
Kyle Burkholder says
Sorry to hear of your lost. I hope that when you look back and remember him that you will remember the love, fun and good times that you had with him.
Clarke Green says
Thank you Kyle
Frank Maynard says
Clarke and Teddi,
Sorry to hear of your father’s passing. He was clearly a great inspiration to you and you have carried his mantle well. May the Lord bless you in this difficult time.
Clarke Green says
Thanks so much Frank.