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War Stories

Updated on January 1, 2015

Interesting tales from the military I have heard

I hang with an older crowd. This isn't necessarily by choice, though I have enjoyed many a ride to the hospital enamored with my patient's storytelling abilities. Working as a paramedic, I tend to see the elderly quite frequently.

Time and situation permitting, I like to strike up a conversation with these people, and ask about their lives.

Where they lived?

Are they married?

How many children?

What did they do? I always look forward to this question, because it can provoke some very interesting conversation.

Frequently, I would hear stories from veterans and other people involved in the military regarding their experiences. These turned out to be some of the more interesting conversations I have ever had.

I'd like to share these stories with you.

Lt. Cmdr James L Chisholm

My grandfather

This is a very special entry for me, as it is regarding a story my grandfather recounted to me.

My grandfather was Lt. Cmdr. on the USS Antares.

He recounts a story about how they spotted a Japanese mini-sub in Pearl Harbor, reported its location. The mini-sub was sunk shortly afterwards by the destroyer USS Ward.

This would mark the first shorts fired by the US in the Pacific theater.

The sinking of the mini-sub occurred at about 0630, which was more than an hour before the actual attack on Pearl Harbor.

It was unclear why this report took so long to get up the chain of command, and December 7, 1941 remains a date well known to WW II veterans and historians.

The spec ops guy who worked for Office of Strategic Services

Pt. 1

Technically, I met his wife, he having long since died. She recounted a story from her husband during World War II. He was part of the OSS, which later became the CIA.

She recalled a story about how her husband encountered some Germans on U.S. soil.

Apparently, the Germans landed, in full U.S. officer uniforms and attempted to infiltrate the U.S. They stole a car, and were driving along the highway when the driver lost control. He struck the underside of an overpass.

Emergency services convinced the Germans to go to the hospital, where they were outed as spies, captured, and later executed.

The spec ops guy who worked for Office of Strategic Services

Pt. 2

Same wife, same spec ops guy.

Her husband was found to have a brain tumor. In the prime of his life, the surgery was expected to go well. However, something went wrong and he lost all short term memory. After years of caring for her husband, she decided that she needed assistance and placed him in a home. One of the instructions she left the caregivers was not to lock him in his room.

They either forgot, or thought they knew better and locked the spec ops trained man in his room. In the morning, he was gone. He had picked the lock, climbed a 6 foot fence, and fled.

He would break out a few more times over the course of his stay, once bringing other elderly and confused patients with him. They had a night on the town. They would go to dinner, see a show, etc.

A few times he was caught before escaping. His training kicked in and he would ask "Why am I being detained?" and would not cooperate with the caregivers.

He remained in prime physical condition until the day he died many years later. His wife reported that he would do sit-ups, pushups, and other body weight exercises daily. When other elderly people were slowing down and getting weaker, he was still in excellent shape, and could jump a fence at 70 years old "without creasing his pants" as she said.

The Chemist who helped develop the flamethrower

I met a chemist who helped develop the flamethrower used during World War II, specifically perfecting the mixture of chemicals/propellant. Burning someone to death is considered one of the most horrible ways to kill another human being. Captured flamethrower teams were frequently summarily executed.

Being the root of all the flamethrower teams from the US, this chemist is indirectly responsible for the deaths of many people by fire.

All things considered, this guy had a lot on his conscience.

Part 2

War stories, part II is now live, please continue reading there.

In part two, I share some information about a man who was in direct contact with the Enola Gay (of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Also a relative in the Army Air Corps...and more!

What's your story?

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    • Old Navy Guy profile image

      Old Navy Guy 4 years ago

      I listened to many stories from my Grandfather in WWI, My Father in WWII and my Uncle in Korea. Each was silent about "their time" and no one knew anything of their service time. That is until I returned from Vietnam and we became a small family club of sorts. For the first time in my life, all three stepped off that pedestal that identifies them as Grand father, Father and Uncle and they shared with me things that I thought only I had experienced and it allowed me to re-adjust to civilian life once again. I thank you for taking the time to remember these men. Cheers.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      This was fascinating. I wish more of us would record the stories of the elderly while we still can.

    • CaztyBon profile image

      CaztyBon 4 years ago

      I am a WWII buff and I enjoyed reading your lens. Over the years I have heard many stories from Vets I think the story that stuck with me the most was one about Vietnam A young soldier did two tours the first one not bad but the second he spent most of the time in danger and his life really on the line. When he came home to his family he was shaken and suicidal it took his family years to help him through the nightmares and flashbacks but they Saved his life and his future he went on to marry and have a family with hardly any problems.

    • Grifts profile image

      Devin Gustus 4 years ago

      @pawpaw911: Just added it to my wishlist! Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 4 years ago

      Pretty amazing historical connection you have to WWII, through your grandfather. Too bad they couldn't have connected those dots sooner.

      I also enjoyed the other stories. It is good that you have saved them. So many stories get lost as we lose more and more of the greatest generation every day. It is great that you look at those older people, and see a person who matters, and that you can learn from.

      As a hobby, I collect WWII letters. I hope your grandfather's letters survived.

      Your stories reminded me of a conversation that I had recently with a WWII veteran. He told of a time he had a German soldier trapped in a basement, and was able to get him to surrender without having to kill him. He told me that he never took a human life unless he had to. He said that he and the German soldier remained friends until he died years ago.

      If you have never read the book "War Letters", but Andrew Carroll, you might try to get hold of a copy.