Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank You To A Gentle Man




This is from last year on Veterans Day, but worth repeating.


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.

[2011 update: Bill has still not received his Purple Heart. His scars, however, remain.]


26 comments:

Daryl said...

Thank you to all who served and those who serve us now .. and thank you for sharing this post

Kat said...

Thank you for this post. And thanks to all of our Veterans.

The Broad said...

Do you happen to know where this monastery in Northern Italy was? Not far from Lucca in Tuscany there is a monastery, now in ruins from the war. An American unit took it from the Germans and many were killed. I've been up there a couple of times -- it's a dizzying ride up and up to the site overlooking the village of Ponte de Mariano. God bless your Uncle and your Aunt. My father too was reticent about talking about his experiences. He was at the Battle of the Bulge and crossed the Bridge at Ramagan before it collapsed. I know about this because when the movie was shown on television, he wanted to see it. It break my heart when I think of what soldiers must endure...

messymimi said...

We owe them so much. Thank you is not enough, but it's all i have right now.

Even if you never tell him your readers said it, know that i am grateful to him and all who served and are still serving.

Suldog said...

Broad: I will try to get an answer about that.

Craig said...

Wow.

Thanks, Bill. . .

And thanks, Sully, for telling us his story. . .

Barbara Shallue said...

I remember his story. Thank you to him and the others who have sacrificed so much. (What's the hold up on his Purple Heart?)

Cricket said...

'tis a day for reposts, among other things. Ah, well... this one is worth retelling.

And what amazes me, if you think about it, is not so much how unusual this story is, but how common, if you know what I mean.

My thanks to Bill for his service, and to you for the story and the link.

cube said...

Thank you for sharing that story and thank you to Mr. Bill and all the veterans for their service to our country.

Suldog said...

Broad - My Mom says that she thinks it was Montecassino. At least, that's what he has mentioned to her as a place he was.

Barbara - They still have not been able to locate any official paperwork detailing his wounds. Since those papers were lost in a fire long ago, it is doubtful they will be found. I know Bill doesn't care about the award, but the rest of us sure do.

Buck said...

Jim: I was gonna suggest Monte Cassino; there was a lot of controversy surrounding the bombings (plural) of the abbey there.

One hopes Bill will finally get what's due him before he leaves this earth. I salute him.

Suldog said...

Thanks, Buck.

Although I'm not expecting him to go anywhere soon, that is my big fear, that Bill will not be around for the accolade by the time they decide he deserves it. As I've said, he really, truly doesn't care one way or the other. He knows what he did, hasn't any desire to glorify himself. It would mean an awful lot to his daughters (my step-sisters) and My Mom, though.

And, while getting this ready for re-posting, I especially was taken by your comment from last year on this.

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.


Very good.

notactuallygod said...

The shame of it all is how poorly and ingratefully vets, especially wounded ones, get treated when they get home. Many are homeless now. Others went to Walter Reed (which was a cesspool before it got exposed). Politicians can't seem to wait to send the boys in, and then forget them when they get home.

Ami said...

Thank you for posting this. I rely on people like you to be more eloquent than I am. You didn't disappoint me.

My oldest little brother has been in uniform for a long time. Due to retire in a few years.

I only wish he hadn't been in harm's way and been shot at more than once, but am grateful that he's safe and currently state side.

He, and all his brothers and sisters in uniforms are heroes, and I think we should remember them EVERY day.

silly rabbit said...

I have not read Bill's story yet... on my way to do so. I know you read my post and know that Papa lost a lung to mustard gas. He also did not speak much about his war days. I know he was in a hospital in France for over 6 months. If he got a medal he never said. Certainly never bragged. Of course he had no trouble joking about the ladies in France!
I am thankful for your Bill and the rest of your family's service.

silly rabbit said...

Back now. Good for your mom for pushing this! Bill deserves his medals and a whole lot of respect. Please thank him for Randy and I as well.

Jeni said...

Whether you write a brand new post or do a rerun here, it matters not because it's always a good read!

Michelle H. said...

God bless all those veterans who served, and I hope your Uncle Bill will get the medal he deserves.

Clare Dunn said...

This wasn't a re-run for me! Thanks for re-posting it.
And thanks for your comment on my blog...I have relayed your message to my Dad, and he was very touched.
You're the best.
xoxoxo, cd

Teacher's Pet said...

To Mr. McDonald....
"Thank you: isn't close to adequate to express what I feel as I read your story.
But I do. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your service is so much a part of our history and your service to our country leaves me awestruck at what you and your fellow comrades went through on the battlefield(s.)
Thank you so very much.
Love,
Jackie

Hilary said...

I sure hope he gets his Purple Heart. And I thank him from the bottom of my own heart.

SueAnn said...

I too hope he gets his medal...soon!!!
My heart filled thanks to all who served and those who have fallen in this service,
Including my dad and my uncles!!
Hugs
SueAnn

missing moments said...

Nice post and hope it happens!

Dianne said...

I have had the honor and privilege of being Bill MacDonald's daughter for the past 51 years. And just as Jim says, my father has never wanted any recognition or accolades for his service to our country. Because of my amazing stepmom's insistence, he received the bronze star and a few other well deserved awards. But time and time again, he was turned down for the purple heart.You see my father was wounded with shrapnel on the battlefield. Rather than leave his unit, he chose to stay and fight with his brothers. Unfortunately, we have been told over and over again there is no record of him being wounded, therefore he is not eligible for the purple heart. Let me tell you from my own experience. There is no one braver than my father. He takes pride in his country, his god, and he conducts himself with dignity and grace.In a world where so many people take for granted being born in the greatest country on earth, my father truly honors and appreciates what he has, and has instilled in my the same. My father doesnt need a purple heart to prove to me how brave and courageous he is. It's something I have always known, and will be forever grateful for. I love you Dad

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