Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You To A Gentle Man




I wasn't planning on writing anything special for Veteran's Day. I certainly know some vets, and am especially proud of some family members who served - My Dad (Navy), My Uncle Jim (Air Force), My Uncle Rick (Army) - but a couple of things I read yesterday changed my mind and prodded me to write this. I'll give you a quick bit of back-story and then send you to read about a fellow I admire.

My swell friend, Cricket, wrote about some vets he knew. It's a good piece - as is everything he writes - and worth a look. You can find it HERE. After having read his post, I decided to leave a comment.

Another comment, by another friend, Thimbelle, prompted me to say something concerning Bill MacDonald, my stepfather. Here's what I said about him, which, I'm sorry to say, included what seems to be a mistaken notion concerning his military service.

My Stepfather, Bill, received a bronze star for his World War II service - quite a high decoration - and he never ever speaks of what he did to earn it. When anyone asks him to do so, he specifically refuses. I know he was a prisoner of war, but that's as much as I know. I respect his wish to not speak about it, although some try to prod him to talk. He's a true gentleman - a gentle man - and someone pushing him to speak about his military career is one of the few things about which I've seen him get truly angered. I've just told him "Thanks" once or twice, and even that seems to be more than he would like to hear about it.

I admire that reticence to cast himself as a heroic figure, a lot. Doesn't mean he wasn't (or isn't, for that matter.)


Before I go any further, I need to let you know about my mistake. It seems Bill was NOT a prisoner of war. I guess I had heard someone else say that he was, and Bill, being who he is, just didn't want to talk about his service, period, so he never corrected that person. As a result, I had always harbored the notion that he had been. As I've since found out, that appears to not be his story. The actual story is, to my mind, much more interesting.

After leaving that comment, I decided to see if there might be anything about Bill, and his military service, on the web. I specifically wanted to see if there was a listing of Bronze Star recipients, and see whether or not Bill was on it.

Don't get the wrong idea; I had no doubt that Bill had received that medal. I just wanted to see if there was someplace where he was receiving some recognition for having done so, and perhaps I'd also have some light shed on what his actions were during his time of service. I've never pushed him to talk about it, but that doesn't mean I wasn't curious to find out.

Well, I put his name in Google, along with "Bronze Star", and I found something. It wasn't a listing of recipients of the award. It was a newspaper account of how My Mother had prodded him to try and get another medal he deserved - The Purple Heart.




The Purple Heart is awarded for being wounded in action.

While Bill does not seek the spotlight, My Mom is not one to sit idly by and let a person, especially her husband, not get credit where it is due. I have little doubt that Bill kept on saying it didn't matter whether he got the recognition, but My Mom, extremely gentle woman that she is, is like a pitbull when she feels that some wrong should be righted. She won't let go of it until it happens.

And now, please go to the link below, and read Bill's story. I'll finish my part of this by once again, on this Veteran's Day, saying "Thanks, Bill." The difference is, this time I know why I'm thanking him.

Bill's story.

Soon, with more better stuff.


26 comments:

Michelle H. said...

What an incredible story! I can't think of any other words to describe what I was feeling when reading the article. This definitely brings home what Veteran's Day means. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Hilary said...

Oh Jim, I hope he gets his Purple Heart. What a story. Good for your Mom and your Stepfather's daughters for making sure your country hono(u)rs this hero. Your pride for this man just shines. Thank you for sharing his story.

Your Veteran's Day is our Remembrance Day and I wrote about how we Canadians honour our heroes who have lost their lives in Afghanistan. I hope you'll stop by if you have a chance.

Pam said...

What a great story and I certainly hope he gets the Purple Heart. We owe more than words can say to all the fine people who have served our country, past and present.

Daryl said...

You are right, he is a gentle man, and I love that your mom is fighting to get him the recognition he deserves .. thank him for his service even if he doesnt want to hear it, I want to say it.

Quirkyloon said...

Thank-you.

So very much.

Uncle Skip, said...

Excellent.
Thank you, Jim.

Lori said...

Wow! This is exactly why I honor all the men and women just like Bill. I thank Bill and all those that have served and the families that have sacraficed along with them. Thank you for sharing this story.

Craig said...

Truly Amazing. . .

Thanks, Bill.

(and thanks for sharing, Sully. . .)

Craig said...

And I've always sorta had the impression, from vets I've known, that the closer a guy was to the actual killing part of the war, the less he was inclined to talk about it. . .

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Bill is a true hero, not only for his considerable contributions to our country, but for his humility.

A rare individual indeed. Thanks for sharing this, Jim.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all the men and women who serve to keep us free and safe. May they be treated with kindness and encouragement when they return home.

Cricket said...

Quite the story, Jim. Glad you were able to find it, and thanks for sharing it.

Buck said...

Bill is not unlike ALL of the guys in the Greatest Generation I've ever known. My father never spoke of his time in the Big One (B-17s over Der Vaterland), either, until the very last time we were together... and he knew he was dying. Then the stories came. I don't have words to describe the experience.

My hat's off to Bill and all the other guys who took fire. There's service, and then there's service.

IT said...

When I served, I was privileged to serve with guys who were in WWII and Korea. None of them much talked about any experiences unless they somehow related to what was happening at that moment.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis we heard a lot about waiting around for whatever was going to happen next.

Thanks for the story... and thank you to all the others who've served.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Definitely a HUGE thank you to Bill! Jim, I'm so glad you found this and shared it with us! He deserves the respect, recognition and sincere gratitude of all Americans! Hugs, Janine

Maggie May said...

We need to thank all people like Bill who sounds quite a hero albeit a quite one.
We owe our freedom to such men.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

TechnoBabe said...

You found a wonderful veteran story.
Your heart is big.

Crazed Nitwit said...

Thanks Bill.

Brittany said...

A real American hero!

Thanks for sharing this story and giving us all a reminder of what real courage is!

Thanks to Bill and all the countless men and women who served with him, before him, and after him!

Great post!

foodies at home said...

Wow...amazing. Happy Veteran's Day!

Thimbelle said...

It's no surprise that Bill is such a great guy - after all, your Mom is married to him, and we all know how great she is! :)

Bill, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you gave for our country.

slommler said...

I too hope he gets his Purple Heart!
Amazing story and how proud you are all is plain to see.
Hugs
SueAnn

Jeni said...

Agreed, this is really an awesome story and I certainly hope Bill gets his awards -quickly, too. Great post, Jim.

i beati said...

freedom is not free

Barbara Shallue said...

I love your mom. Mine can be a pitbull, too. Thank you so much to Bill - I hope he gets that medal. I'm glad you finally learned his story - thanks for sharing it with us. God bless him and the other soldiers!

Tim King said...

Jim, Catching up on some reading. I really enjoyed this article. Thanks for the link. -TimK