In the last several years he has been more willing to talk about the war, and give us some small idea of what he went through. His stories often still evoke laughter. For example, Dad and another soldier accompanied an officer to pick up a truckload of ice and beer donated by a brewery near Las Vegas to the men training under Patton in the desert around Bouse, Arizona. They were offered a drink at the brewery but the officer said no, and ordered the men to guard the truck while he attended a meeting. While they waited in the heat they noticed water dripping from the melting ice on the truck. So, they caught that with their helmets, drank a few beers, and filled the bottles with the water, and re-capped them. Needless to say, some GI's first beer back at camp was not full-flavored.
Many members of my family have made pilgrimages to Bouse, where he trained, and to the Patton Museum in Chiriaco Summit, California. Patton oversaw desert training for troops planned for North Africa, but by the time they were prepared the fighting there was over, and they were shipped out to Europe instead.
In late May of 1944, Dad drove a load of sub-machine guns to Manchester, England for modification. As the job was nearing completion he received orders to proceed with his load to Swansee, Wales immediately, pulling out all stops. When he arrived, he backed his truck onto the LST, the gate was closed and they headed for sea. After seven days going south around Wales and through the North Atlantic to the English Channel, they landed at Normandy on D-day.
His truck being the last one on, was the first one off, and the water was deep. His unit had to fill in for artillery bearers who were lost and after spraining his ankle and unable to keep up with the rest, he spent the night alone on the beach. He was 23 years old at the time.
Sometimes life is hard. We have to do things we'd rather not do. Occasions like this anniversary serve to remind me how lucky I am that people like my father, and so many others, were willing to do what I can't even imagine, and because of their sacrifice, life is pretty good! Thanks, Dad.