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.