My Father the Patriot......

The uniform patch of my Fathers infantry company, The 334 th Abraham Lincoln "Railspitters" ........After the Battle of the Bulge the German POW's called these men the "Hatchetmen "......
The uniform patch of my Fathers infantry company, The 334 th Abraham Lincoln "Railspitters" ........After the Battle of the Bulge the German POW's called these men the "Hatchetmen "...... | Source

chapter one......

My Father , twenty -seven years old when he enlisted in 1942 ,the United States Army Infantry , served during the second world war , leaving at home unknowingly , a pregnant wife who would later desert her marriage for another man while my father slugged away at surviving in battle . My Father worked at the time for an Pratt and Whitney aircraft engine industry and could have , if chosen so , to be defered from serving in war by staying with his job . However , the patriotic rising waves of the nation pulled him into the raging sea of war . And pull him in it did !

A farmers son from a barely surviving small town in Northern Vermont , he had somehow survived a poor and tragic childhood in this very rural upbringing , Not many people realize that in the nineteen twenties and thirties , it wasn't unusual at all to have been an indentured laborer or house servant as a young boy or girl , poverty , hunger and desperation would often drive a parent to "lease " out a child for serving as farm or house labor to another family, "better off " than yours. I have seen the written permission slips by parents to loan out ,for certain payments , a child to pay off a dept or to provide a few dollars a week for income .
It seems strange to hold in your hand these handwritten notes from my grandparents of long ago that had to be kept in the town clerks offices for records , For instance , if a truant officer had seen a young boy cutting hay in a farm field , the farmer would have to "prove " this child was out of school legitimately !

Poverty often seems a twin brother to tragedy in life , and if that's not true , you could not prove it by my Fathers youth . He never shared much of his youth or his war memoies unless he was suffering from the effects of alcohol , but when he did ! The foggy images of long ago tragedy and of war come fully clear as if when we talked you could envision the fully colored images on a large flat screened TV. And yet , in each voiced secret , for lack of a better word , that was often divulged for me at least , there was the knowing that the reality is often romanticized by the simple and spounge like minds of an interested son .

Quite often , in an altered state of mind , my Father would reach out as I walked by his chair and wrap his arm , almost desperately , around me to trap me in a bear hug ! When that happened , it usually meant ........"okay , time for a war story ".......Now I have no regrets , This writing isn't about me , it's about a man who returned from one of the most mind altering states of the human condition . War . And I also believe , his need to confess his sins perhaps , and to relate his experiences in life or to tell of the personal histories in real life time were important to him , especially though , when altered by the alcohol that became his curse and his own personal medication .

Our conversations were often started by my questions , those of a young boy trying desperately to find his identity , or his own path to adulthood . Yet , whatever the reason for a question , there was almost always an answer and like it or not ,in full color , in extensive detail . Even now I can hear his voice in his mono-toned heavily country accented rhythmic voice . Now nothing whatsoever was spared for the sake of a childs mind . Be it blood on the hands or the bodies on the ground or the secrets that lie hidden in the minds dark corners half consumed by personal acceptance .My Father was a casualty of war .I mean that symbolically Yes , he survived through one of the most dark ages of modern warfare , though not without scars .......both on the flesh and on the soul.

Now , as I think back to a time when a young soldier sat in the snow covered and broken pine forests ,where he had slept the night before , drinking cold coffee , cleaning his 50 caliber machine gun and listening to the big 88's ,the German Howitzsers thunder across the skies over his head and light up even the cold dawning skies , I realize how much a true patriot he was ! He often spoke of how he would rise early in the battlefields of Normandy and on into Germany in winter and look out across sleeping bodies of his fellow soldiers under blankets covered in snow and watch thier frozen breath rise from beneath the wool army blankets . And think .........what is the meaning of all of this , of war , of death ,blood and screams of the wounded on both sides of the battle front ?

He often talked about the long lines poor German civilian refuges that would march by them in the opposite directions and beg for food , for water , for anything , a blanket , or a coat . My Father never liked dogs in life after the war , seriously . He spoke of marching across Belgium
and watching the half wild and starving dogs eating the dead bodies that lined the battlefields , When I would ask, " what would you do when you saw this ?" He would reply , " we would shoot the dogs ".

I believe the reason that I write about this and about him is that I think not a lot of people today appreciate the extreme personal costs of a soldier in battle . Especially , to me anyway , the American soldier , going off to "save " or defend another country . I shake my head in disbelief at the rants of anti-war people who have never been anywhere but to a liberal college and who have never been to another country except on a student exchange program . My plan is to write about the memories he spoke of , individual memories, of tragedies , of a young and innocent soldier thrown into the middle of the caos ,into the dark and the misty fog of war !

Comments 18 comments

Ghaelach 4 years ago

Hi ahorseback.

A sad story.the old folks that lived through the last war and believe me they where

Living here in Germany for the past 20 years I here a lot of tails from so glad that the allied troupes came and rescued them from a dictator that came to power and did a lot of good things in Germany, but then lost all reason and thought he could rule the world.

In todays Germany there are only a few problems with people over in the former East Germany where they still believe he was God.

The stories your father used to tell you, could be told in many hubs. All interesting and individual stories, but very sad.

Thanks for sharing.

LOL Ghaelach

shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

I have been waiting for this to come forward and just let me say, it was well worth the wait. Although it will be very hard on you as you continue to write about your brave fathers experiences, you are paying him a priceless service so generations after him can read and truly understand the depth of the misery, especially those young boys who participated in the unbelievably long and bloody Battle of The Bulge.

You an I have conversed about both our fathers time in WWII so you are already aware of the endless hours spent with my Dad and his fellow comrades. But nothing compares to the experience of your Dad at The Bulge. Having to sleep in a fox hole only to wake and need your fellow comrades to chip your frozen legs from the ground is just skimming the tip of the endless agony they endured. So many died hanging onto that one part of the forest. So many young boys starving, frost bitten and horribly injured with no chance for replenishing supplies of food or ammo. I have read extensively and listened to my Dad as well. The boys at The Bulge were a huge part that helped to finally tip the war and win it.

I will be an ardent follower as you allow me the distinguished pleasure of reading about your father, and I am proud of you for taking this on.

Your friend, Beckie

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Ghaelach, And thank you again for stopping by , yes I would actually like to tell all that he told me and will ! The fine people of Europe are appreciative Im sure , every time I see the gravesites of our fallen in Normandy , Belgium , England, I'm reminded of the great people there ! I'll see you in more hubs and have a great holiday season my friend !

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Well Beckie ! Thank you so much , By the way I know that my Father fell in love with my mothers ShiningIrishEyes ! Although they could throw flames at him from time to time ! I am so proud of you for listening to your Dad ! They are [were ]such great great heros all ! My God Beckie when I think of the horrors they saw ......Im still saddened for them ! Lets you and I keep in touch this way ! Thank you and Have a wonderful gathering at Turkey day !...Ed

shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

I am impressed that you picked up on the hidden dangers as well as the positives found in a pair of shining Irish eyes! I learned the honed and highly skilled technique from my Mom and she learned from her mother, and so so so many generations before! It is a fine tuned technique lovingly handed down through the many Irish females! LOL

I agree with both of us continuing to check in with each other. But remember this, you are leaving a proud and thorough legacy these selfless men deserve. Your words will survive both our lifetimes and continue to enrich so many generations to come. Continue the great skill you have already shown and also continue to choose each word carefully. I know you will. So fare you have done an amazing job and I really do look forward to the next chapter.

Enjoy your Holiday as well my friend and stay safe.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Its funny ! My own beautiful daughter who is 35 has those same eyes and has Used them several times against her DAD ! Ohhhh , they do flame up and yet when she smiles ....when she smiles ! Thanks Beckie !

always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

I am so glad you are writing this story of your father's battle in the war and after. Like you say, young men have no idea what war was like back then. I have a friend who was on Iwo Jima when the war ended. He still suffers from PTS. He told me his company went in with 310 men only 11 came out. I am looking forward to the next chapter. Thank you..

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this great account. It is important that your father's story and heroic be remembered.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Always ! We have a duty to remember a priveledge . Thank you for this , tell your friend for me , he's a hero !........:.....-}

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Mhatter , Yes , next chapter ! Thanks for sharing this !

aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 4 years ago from American Southwest

The Iwo Jima veteran I know wants younger generations to understand war is not fun; it certainly isn't like the movies. However, he is also very clear there is a time for war, and only those who understand the sacrifices made in wartime are prepared to fight to win, and get out. It is when we don't take war seriously enough that we play around with it and leave more pain than if we had done nothing at all.

Thank you for an article that both takes war seriously and recognizes that there are some things worth fighting for.

Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

Pavlo Badovskyy 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

Great story. Every soldier who participated in the war had his own story. Your father had his own one. War is a horrible thing and we should remember about it. Shared.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

aethelthryth, Now Thats a name to write ! lol Yes mam , they are right about that , hereos both !As are you for listening ! Thank you !

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Pavlo , and the same for the Russian troops ! Was it eleven million Russians who perished as well ? Thank you for stopping by !

Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and interesting. Fascination story all the more that it is a true story. Life can be so hard and war just makes it tougher. Looking forward to more. Passing this on.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Thanks Gypsy ! I hope to write of his many "adventures in the war !........Happy turkey day!

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Very interesting post and such a great story on the history of war. It is an eye opener. I was a little sad about the bodies being eaten by dogs. What a tragedy. Great writing.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Only the truth Teaches ! Only the truth , what a crazy world we live in . Thanks for reading . .....:-}

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