Two Old Men and a Father’s Day Anguish

It was Monday, Valentines’ Day 2001.  My wife was five months pregnant at the time we moved into this wonderful neighborhood smothered in US Naval glory.  After I came back from work the next day, she told me a kind old man stopped her as she was wheeling out the trash bin.  She said he hobbled from across our quiet street lined with peppercorn trees then kindly wheeled them out for her.

I found out the “old man” was a World War II combat vet.  Worse yet, he was a sailor in the Pacific – he fought the Japanese in World War II.

“Holy crap,” flashed through my mind, “What if he finds out we’re Japanese?”

Twelve years later, I was honored to have been a pallbearer at his funeral.

I was so far off base about my first thoughts on Old Man Jack that even George Burns could have picked me off without being called for a balk…and this while he was in his grave.

I felt so ashamed.

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I snapped this picture of a happy Jack Garrett when we went to the Chino Planes of Fame in 2003.

“Young man, get over here and plant your butt in that chair,” barked old man Jack from his cluttered garage across the street.  Having lived in that house since 1953, it was filled with his life history.

“But I have my stogie going, Jack,” said I.

“Well, I can see it and I sure as hell can smell it.  Now shut up and sit down.  I want to tell you something.”

That was Old Man Jack, my dear neighbor who lived across the street.  I like to think we were close.

He was 87 years old by that summer’s day in 2010 when he called me over.  While he had become feeble, his barrel chest was still prominent.  He was a rabble-rouser in his youth.  He was always “mixing it up” throughout his young years…  Well, he was mixing it up even while working at Northrup in the 50’s.  That makes me grin.

His handshake was always firm and warm; you didn’t need to be psychic to sense his insight and outlook on life.  He always spoke his mind.  He earned that right having been shot at, strafed, and bombed on “those stinkin’ islands” as he so often said during a most bitter war.

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Taken on Father’s Day 2010

I had invited Jack to Father’s Day dinner that summer just two years ago; my Dad who was 91 was coming as well.

Jack knew my dad was US Army but I fretted over what they would say to each other when they first met.  Or how they would react to one another.  It was more than just a concern over the centuries old rivalry between Army and Navy.  It was the bitter war.

Dad was in the front room when Jack rang the bell – right on time as always.  Jack had on his favorite blue plaid shirt; he wore it often as it had a pocket for his glasses.  I often wondered how often he washed it, though.  Jack and Dad are shown here on Father’s Day 2010.

“Dad,” I said, “This is Jack, US Navy, Aviation Machinist’s Mate, First Class, the Pacific.”

“Jack, this is my Dad.  US 8th Army, sergeant, Military Intelligence Service.”

Although not as agile as they once were, they immediately saluted each other.

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You didn’t need a sound system to hear them.  Dad and Jack are both hard of hearing.

It was easy to hear Jack ask Dad what he did in the Army.  During the Occupation of Japan, Dad said he went into a room once a week that reeked of dry cleaning to retrieve a crate.  (The crates contained documents, photos and other personal items such as war diaries written by Japanese soldiers.  They were removed from a WWII battlefield – read on.)  He would then translate the contents for military intelligence (below).

2016-11-12_04-06-14
Dad translating captured war documents in the U.S. 8th Army HQ’s, Yokohama, Japan. 1947.

I had to tend to cooking so I lost track of the conversation.  It was regretful I didn’t keep tuned in.

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So back to being called over by Jack.  He was sitting in his favorite blue wheelchair.  He didn’t need it but it belonged to his beloved wife Carol who passed away ten years before.  They married during the waning days of the war.  They had been married for 55 strong years.

“So what did you want to tell me, Jack?” I asked.

He then went into his trance – one signaling evident anguish and remembrances.  When he went into these trances, he always started by staring at his hands while picking at his right thumbnail with his left ring finger.  He would lift his once thick eyebrows then begin talking in a slow, deliberate pace, never taking his eyes off his hands.

“I went on ID patrol…” Jack whispered while ever so slightly drawing out his words.

“ID patrol?  What is that?” I asked.

“They would issue six of us white caps M1’s with bayonets…  Then we’d follow two Marines on a patrol into the jungle.”

“Patrol?  You?  You were ground crew, Jack,” I remarked.

“Ain’t enough of them (Marines) to go around on those stinkin’ islands so we got picked,” he said, still speaking in a lifeless yet pained monotone.  He added, “If you got killed, you rotted real quick in that jungle heat.  And if you got killed with shit in your pants, you got buried with shit in your pants.”

His stare doesn’t change.  His eyes have glassed over.  He is in a different world now – one of 70 years ago in a stifling jungle, his sweaty hands trying to grip onto his rifle while wearing a smelly steel helmet. Listening in terror for any sound that may signal a Japanese soldier concealed in ambush. A world that only combat veterans understand.  Thankfully, you and I never will.  Never.

“The Marines had two bags – one small one and a big one.  When we found one, the two Marines would stand guard.  We’d hold the rifle by the butt end and use the fixed bayonet to fish out the tags.”

I then realized what he was painfully regurgitating.  They were going back into the jungle to locate the dead Marines they had to leave behind after a “tussle” with the enemy as Jack liked to say – a life or death firefight.  Jack was only 20 years old.  The Marines were likely younger.  Ponder that thought.

“We weren’t allowed to touch the dead (Marine) as the Japs would booby-trap ‘em.  We’d hand over the tags hanging on the the end of the bayonet to one of the Marines who would put a tag in the small bag.  They marked a map for the graves registration guys to come back later.”

Jack’s anguished delivery dimmed even further.  “But we’d come across a dead Jap.  Nobody cared about them so they rotted where they were.  But we’d have to stick the bayonet into the rotting goo and try to fish stuff out.  The prize was a pouch or a satchel.  Those would go into the big duffel bag just as they were, covered with rot and maggots. We headed back to CP and that’s the last I saw of those bags,” he said.

He abruptly ended but his unconscious stare didn’t change.  He was still in the jungle, scared out of his wits. He was still picking at his thumbnail all this time.  His head hardly moved while he sat in the blue wheelchair that belonged to his beloved wife.

I thought to myself, “Is that the end, Jack?  That’s it?  Why did you tell me this?”  I knew not to pry any more so I kept the thoughts to myself.  He was in torment already.  Seventy years had passed but he was reliving the awfulness of a brutal war.  Nevertheless, I wondered why he chose that time to tell me about this horrific recall of something he experienced so very young.

It bugged me for several weeks.

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About a month later, I understood why Jack told me the story.  Apparently, the items they recovered from Japanese corpses were dry cleaned to remove the rotting body fluids.  After getting dry cleaned, they ended up in the crates that were in the room my Dad went into once a week when he was in the Military Intelligence Service…and why the room reeked of dry cleaning.

The brief chat with my dad on Father’s Day sparked that vile memory back to life.  It had been eating at him since that day.  He wanted to get it off his once mightily barreled chest.

I lament to this day that an invitation to a Father’s Day dinner had resulted in an unwanted recall of horror Jack was very much trying to forget.  More so, I lament he relived such horrors each night for the last 70 years of his life.  Seventy years.

Jack was a great man to have endured combat in the Pacific during World War II.  He was an immeasurable giant in learning to forgive – although he was never able to forget.

I miss him greatly.  I thanked him for all we have when I visited him today at his grave on this glorious Memorial Day.

155 thoughts on “Two Old Men and a Father’s Day Anguish”

  1. Hi Koji –
    What a wonderful story…full of misery, but still a wonderful story.
    I never had the opportunity to listen to the tales of war my dad carried, as he was taken from me when I was mid-way thru my 3rd year, and when I listen to the few others I’ve had the honor to hear who were there I wonder “Did you know my dad?”.
    Thanks Koji…

    1. Jer, I wish I was able to meet your dad. It is also regretful I was unable to come up with more information on your father. He played in integral part in the Pacific War.

  2. Well written documentation, and much like a short story. I can understand the essence. While he had a definite reverance for the U.S. dog tags, he also had a certain respect for the personal effects of the once enemy and soldiers of Japan. I believe, as you said, he had forgiven, though neither he or your father have or will forget. Both Americans who knew the meaning of more than war, they must have shared much if not in conversation, but in thought. This makes interesting and historic reading. Thanks for sharing this material as only you can.

    1. Thank you, Robert. I’m sure there are many, many other stories others may have heard or even experienced. Such history is to be remembered in their honor and that is my task. Writing is not my forte; I wish it was now.

    2. Please also note that my use of the word “J_p” is not something I wish to utilize but is only used here to convey the internal turmoil within a combat veteran. He was reliving the horror.

      Jack accepted me and my kids with open arms; he sees us as Americans through and through. He NEVER saw me as anything else or called me any discriminatory name whatsoever.

  3. Unimaginable horrors they saw. You are right to remind us of how fortunate we are to live in this age and in a part of the world where death isn’t random, brutal and commonplace. You do well to honour your friend Jack Garrett thus, and all the fallen of his generation, American or Japanese. They were all somebody’s son, brother, friend, lover, husband or father. Hats off to you for your efforts. To quote Laurence Binyon in a poem called To The Fallen written in 1914;

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember them.

    1. Thank you for your visit, Janet. I am sure you are extremely busy with recent events and are deep in your own thoughts and feelings as well. May I ask in what terms it was difficult to read? Sentence structure, grammar or emotional?

  4. You definately have a talent for writing. You took me from Illinois and put me right into your house. I am looking forward to your future writings.

    1. Thank you, photoroach, for visiting and your nice comment. Technically, English is my second language; thank goodness for our public school system. 🙂 But seriously, all I did here was quote old man Jack. I do hope you will continue to stop by once in a while.

  5. I greatly admire your documenting the history of your father, of Jack, of our histories through men we can relate to. I can’t imagine what these men have lived through. Even reading their stories doesn’t bring me close enough to their feelings. Thank you for sharing them with us.

      1. I look forward to more of your stories. I can’t imagine how you feel being around your dad, or before your friend passed, and knowing these things and trying to fit it in to your perspective of the men you knew/know.

  6. Koji,
    How wonderful that your Dad and Jack were able to meet and salute each other. The image of their mutual salute is so endearing and speaks so much of their respect for one another. Their salute is really something I would have loved to have seen myself. The story that follows the Father’s Day dinner is so very emotional and I can picture Jack picking at this thumbnail, but needing to relate … to relive the horrific events of the past … to someone who would simple listen. The memories that were stirred up on Father’s Day for Jack needed to come out in the open and you allowed him the opportunity to do so without judgement. You were a wonderful neighbor to Jack. I have to say as well, that this story also worried me. Seventy years later Jack would recall the tragedies of war as if he was still standing right next to those dead young men, friend and foe. On my most recent visit with my son, I walked in unexpectedly to a conversation between my son and his father … a conversation not meant for my ears. Not meant for my ears simply because it is not an account a son wishes to share with his mom. Reading about Jack … I was also frightened … I wondered about Jack and his mom. Thank you Koji … what you are doing is good for the soul … both of the writer and the reader. 🙂

    1. JeanneRene, thank you once again for taking the time to stop by and read about Jack and my dad.

      When Jack got into the mindset to talk about those horrible memories, as you say, he was standing right there with those bodies. He was standing in that miserable jungle, cutting off leeches. The “J” word would come out but that’s what it was like 70 years ago. There was no malice towards me or my family whatsoever. I kept telling him, “Jack, we’re neighbors today on account of what you endured so long ago. Thank you.”

      Jack rarely talked about his parents except to say she was about one-quarter Cherokee and that she was a powerful little woman. His dad – as I later confirmed by my own research – was also on nearby islands in the Pacific. He was a baker. Jack never told me if he talked to his mother but I believe she passed away early on.

      I am sorry to have worried you, a Marine mom. I know you and your husband will be there for him. A mom like you always will…and your dad’s watching out for him, too.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read the story. I do wish with all my might he didn’t have to endure horrors he buried in his mind for all those years. Only combat vets truly understand so I am honored he shared his life with me.

      1. My own grandfather was a British Tommy in the trenches of ww1. He died in his 90s in the spring of 1991. I’ll always remember his last Xmas dinner with us. He began to open up about many of his experiences in the war. He’d been carrying that in his head for nearly 80 years. My grandmother mentioned later that much of what he’d told us all she was also hearing for the first time, and they’d been married since 1930.

      2. It must have been painful to have lost your grandfather.

        But it is so true of what your wrote, isn’t it? So often, a combat vet MAY share his horrors with his son – if at all – but never with his own mother, wife or daughter.

        I do wish all combat vets who have passed on have attained peace…as well as those that are still with us.

  7. I have to tell you that I am close to speechless. This is such a beautiful portrait of brave men, both Jack and your father, yet I am almost unable to comment! My father was still in highschool during the war and as a result, the horrors of what these men experienced didn’t really touch my childhood at all. I “know” of what it cost our men and women in terms of nightmares for the rest of their lives, but I cannot imagine it, even with deliberate reflection! I am in such awe and it is with such respect that I read this story and pause to consider that such great man went on to his final reward…I can believe he is greatly missed. You have such wonderful stories of great men! I love reading about them! Debra

    1. Debra, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read about two men and their pasts. Yes, Jack is dearly missed. I was outside today in the front yard and thought about him as I looked at his beloved home.

      They were all so young when they went to war. His father was also on a nearby island. He was a baker in the Navy. I’ll have a story about that some time later.

      Thank you again! It is nice to know that people have read the story.

  8. I’m glad that you were there to hear and then share such stories. They need telling. Over and over again. Until everyone understands just how terrible war is BEFORE the next generation to learn the hard way. My Fathei-in-Law was at Tule Lake internment camp and then volunteered for service during WWII. He is a very good man and has been a great Fathier-in-Law. He is doing poorly now after a long and vigorous life. I wll miss him greatly when he is gone.
    Russ

    1. Russ, I returned from Tokyo and Hiroshima about ten days ago. I apologize if this reply is late but connecting to the internet was nearly impossible for one reason or another during my stay.

      I am sorry to hear of your father-in-law’s condition. If he volunteered for service as did many thousands of others, he likely qualified for the Congressional Gold Medal. I hope he was somewhat isolated from witnessing first hand the horrors of the battlefield.

      Dad and his older brother’s family were also at Tule Lake first, then moved to Minidoka. I’m sure you know there is a database for “internees” if you are curious about his past.

    1. I hold any military man or woman who faced combat in high regards. I do not have to fight alongside them because they are there to protect my family and friends. Yet, when they come home, they need our help. Too many of us do not understand what is going on inside them.

  9. I was tearing up for Jack myself. Pierre Legace referred your blog and I’ll have to go back and thank him. My father was in the 11th Airborne Division and I am always open for hearing more stories. I know that glassed over look, my father had it when he hear Taps.

    1. I most definitely understand how your father must have felt when he heard, “Taps”. It is a very moving piece in general and it must heighten his memories buried deep inside. I did refer a gentleman to your blog as his uncle was in the 11th A/B as well…

  10. Koji, I came back to reread Jack’s story and to catch up on replies. I’m glad I did because the story of your dad and Jack is so endearing and so important for future generations.

    I thought I should also let you know that I have gotten in contact with one of my dad’s combat buddies …actually his best friend during his time in the Pacific. I pursued the initial contact and I’m glad I did. Maurice has sent me several stories that he wrote about their time in the Pacific Theatre.

    Just as you wanted to make a “connection” with Jack, I felt the need to make contact with Maurice.

    Thank you again for sharing your blog. 🙂

    1. I’m honored you came back to read it again, jeannerene. Truly. And will you be writing of him because I would really like to read it. 🙂 I hope 2013 will be full of good times for you and your good family. Oo-rah.

  11. I’d have to get permission to share his written stories. I made a couple of C.D.s of all the pictures I’ve retouched and posted (you’ve seen them) and sent them to him. He really, really liked that … and he would like to help me identify locations and circumstance for the book I hope to put together for my sons and my nieces. I’ve many more pictures to retouch and post … got to get down to business. 🙂

    The end of 2012 has been difficult, but we support each other.
    Thank you for your good wishes, and many good wishes to you and your family in 2013 as well!

    1. Gee, Patty… I missed your kind comments until now… Thank you for reading it once again. I feel it is one of the better stories on my little blog. I do still think of him frequently! He had quite an impact on my life.

      1. That is the best way to honor someone by never forgetting them! And thank you for your kind words…your kindness overflows to the rest of us and is contagious!

  12. What an amazing story. Reminded me of my uncle who fought in Europe with nisei brigade. They saw awful things there. He lived into his late 80s, but never really talked about it, until the end of his life when they were documenting experiences of the 100th battalion in Honolulu. Amazing young men they were.

    1. Thank you for reading this during your very busy day. Your uncle… Was he interviewed on video…like for JAVA or Densho? Like Old Man Jack (my kids and I really called him Ojisan Jack…and my son was named after him), your heroic uncle kept nearly everything inside until the end. It must have been horrible. I thank them and your family.

  13. A World War II Marine once told me, “Damn it. Damn it. It you didn’t hate those damn people, you couldn’t shoot ‘em. And if you didn’t shoot ‘em, they’d shoot you. War is sshit.” I am not proud of the fact that some Japanese prisoners were poorly treated by American Marines, but I understand it. I don’t excuse it, I just understand it. War is barbarism.

    I notice that Jack and I have something in common. We are both Free Masons. I feel as though I’ve known Jack for a long time.

    Thank you for this post, sir.

    1. Sir, you are very observant. I was puzzled at how you would know that Jack was a Freemason. Not being as well educated as you, I had to look up the meaning of a “Freemason”. When I did, I recognized the symbol…which is on his grave marker. Until just now, I had just thought it was his symbol from being ground crew. Thank you.

      I have learned intimately from these two great men in the last years of their lives that war is barbarism at its worst. They taught me about the horrors of war and its sheer ugliness. I hope to learn from yours as well…if not to educate the young and spoiled generations of today. I understand your feelings completely and agree.

      Perhaps if you just look at these photos of Jack, you will understand one reason why I respect and honor these simple men from the Greatest Generation…when they were just boys.

      https://p47koji.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/the-forgiveness-of-a-wwii-sailor/

      Thank you for your visit.

  14. Not long before he died, my father had a short spell in hospital and, with the best of intentions, a couple of other patients encouraged him to talk about his period as a POW in the Far East. This set him remembering too much and a few days after we got home, he woke up one morning convinced he was still a prisoner and that I was an hallucination. It took three-quarters of an hour to convince him that he was in England and had had a long and full life (he was 94) and that I was just one of his four children.

    1. Thank you for visiting the blog, Hilary. I feel sorry for your father and the anguish he may have endured not long before he passed away. And that is precisely the point why I never “pushed” Old Man Jack or Mr. Johnson for more information that what they volunteered on their own. Believe me, it was so hard NOT to ask more questions…even basic questions like “What island did this happen on, Jack?”

      In coincidence, my dad is also 94. He will forget having looked at a picture just two or three minutes earlier but still recognizes me. Guess I’m lucky.

  15. I thank God I wasn’t born during those hard times. Jack reminds me of my grandfather very much, victim of war and have painful stories to tell. Up to this day he still have the marks of gun wounds and sadly still a “slight” hatred in his heart for what the Japanese did to him. Thank you for sharing this story for I think I’ll share it to my grandpa one day as well.

    1. I am sorry your grandfather has been pursued by this war for so many decades and also sorry for his wounds. The scars must be a painful reminder for him.

      War never truly leaves the conscious of someone who was there. Old Man Jack was the same…but he had learned how to forgive. I pray for the healing of your grandfather’s eternal wounds. Thank you for your contribution.

  16. This is a beautiful story. And to think these men were 19-20 years old to see the things they saw. To have to retrieve the ID tags from the dead and search the bodies of dead ‘enemies’ a truly horrifying ordeal for anyone, let alone a young man.

    How wonderful that you were friends with a man such as Jack, and that you were able to show him your gratitude and honor for that friendship. He sounds like he was quite something.

    1. It still wells up my eyes when I think about Old Man Jack in certain ways. He truly gave it all and asked for nothing in return… but it pains me to realize he carried demons with him to his grave. One such guilt he let slipped when I took him to the Planes of Fame. After he cried in the sun after seeing his beloved Corsair, he mentioned something with red eyes. He was ground crew chief for his plane. When it didn’t come back, he wondered if the enemy shot him down…or was it him?

      1. It still is for me. I miss him greatly and his (loving) scowl when I would interrupt him…purposely. On Mar 17, 2014 11:27 AM, “Masako and Spam Musubi” wrote:

        >

  17. Wandered over here by way of appletonavenue…

    My grandfather is named Jack, and he too was involved in the Pacific conflict during WWII, as a Marine of the 3rd Division. He is 90, as of last August.

    1. The 3rd Marines fought with honor from Bougainville to Iwo Jima. I hope you were able to document some of his history during that most bitter war. I pray he was spared horrors and thank him deeply.

      1. I don’t think he was spared many horrors. *sigh* I was going to say that he has generally been very tight-lipped about any of his experiences. My father has taken it on himself to be family historian right now; he had some of Grandpa Jack’s thoughts that he had saved to a floppy disk, which he brought to me (since I’m the only one who has a computer with a floppy drive). I read it, recalled what few things he had mentioned before, and noted things he had not.

        Still so scarce. When Grandpa talked to me, he usually did so with the propaganda tone that the media used to promote the war, including the use of the atomic bomb. Ironically, the fuel for the Fat Man was produced at Hanford, which is only about an hour’s drive from my home.

        When I visited Oahu maybe some 20 years ago with my mother, Grandpa Jack, and my grandmother, we did visit Pearl Harbor and the Punchbowl cemetery. He was still generally tight lipped about it all, even then. I am not sure if he has said much more than my father has archived; it really is fairly little.

      2. Sir, your grandfather’s tight-lipped behavior is typical. They keep their horrible memories bottled up for eternity… unless something cracks that bottle open. Even then, they manage to put the cork back in quickly.

        I learned to NEVER ask my Old Man Jack probing questions about what he saw…or did. But the most telling horror he had was a very poignant and short recollection of when he was ground crew chief on an island. It was about his favorite plane, the F4U Corsair. If you wish to read about what had haunted him for all these years, please feel free to read it here: https://p47koji.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/old-man-jacks-love/

        He fought a very bitter and personal war. It sounds as if he lost some good buddies and it is not easy to forget – or forgive. I’m sure he relives it every night as did Old Man Jack and Mr. Johnson.

        I know you want to know… but let the man be. You’ll just have to wait and see if he’ll feel the time is right and begins to talk, bit by bit.

        They went through hell.

      3. Yes, I know. He often said, “I lost a lot of buddies in that war.” One horror which he did share with me was about meeting a local islander who chose to wear… I think it was an Allied uniform of sorts. Apparently he quietly ambushed Japanese soldiers and beheaded them, and Grandpa had taken a photo as proof, which he showed to me.

        At best, he introduced me to commanders, and usually that was a very awkward affair. He wanted me to talk with his sergeant, who ignored me for the most part, but talked on and on about the incident Grandpa got his Purple Heart for… “Sarge, am I going to die?” the man claimed he said over and over. Grandpa got shot in the finger.

        I don’t say that to minimize his wound– just that it was awkward. Generally speaking, I don’t think anyone he introduced me to seemed to be the slightest bit interested in meeting me.

        Then there’s his Devil Dog tattoo. He has been LDS/Mormon his entire life and I have no idea why he got it, only that he regrets having gotten it. (Our church generally forbids its members to get them.)

        I’ve never pressed Grandpa to share details, ever. Trust me on that one. Maybe my father might glean a tiny bit more, but, unlikely. Dad and my mother finished moving him and my grandmother to assisted living as she has Alzheimer’s and dementia. We still have the house to clean out, but despite the urgings of my sisters and I, my parents claim over and over it must be on Grandpa’s timetable. That has been about the only thing I’ve pressed on… asking about the war is so far down the list as to be nearly insignificant.

        No, I suspect he has said all he cares to and will likely carry the rest until death.

  18. I’ve read this several times before, Koji-san. It always brings a smile to my face… not something easy to do. My father was a Navy pilot in WWII and passed away in 2012, two months before his 94th birthday. They were (are) a strong breed. Semper Fi!

    1. Gunny, I am honored you have come back to read this several times. That is one purpose of these stories – to always remember because our children’s history books won’t.

      As with Old Man Jack, I hope your father was able to deal with his demons and pray in my own way that he did not have to endure – or see the effects of – combat.

      I am also indebted to you for fighting over in Vietnam. Thank you.

  19. Koji, I’ve dropped back in here to ask a big favor of you. If you get the time, could you translate (if possible) the propaganda leaflet found at
    http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/intermission-stories-10/
    I’ve been trying to have it done by my Korean readers, but I don’t think their English is good enough to understand what I’m asking – at least that’s how their answers sound. I thank you for any effort you put into this, thank you.

      1. Thanks, Koji, I appreciate the effort. I don’t think I have any Chinese readers and I sure don’t know how to do a machine translation.

    1. LOL, Gunny… I’m an Android guy! 🙂 I do most of my translating when necessary using Rikaichan in Firefox. Cool software for the Japanese language…and it’s FREEEE.

  20. Thank you very much for this story. I came via Cee’s Photography blog, and am very glad to have stumbled upon your site. I hope you won’t mind if I visit again. Warm wishes from Japan, from Takami

      1. 金本様
        こちらこそ、お返事ありがとうございます。
        金本様の御祖父様も四国(愛媛)出身と聞いてビックリしました。これも何かのご縁ですね!今後ともどうぞよろしくお願いいたします。
        茨原

        I am sorry for hijacking the thread. Once again, I’m happy to have discovered your site!

  21. This is an incredible story and ever so touching, I do wonder sometimes what everyone else thought back in the war. About what the world is like now, I have so much respect for all the men and women who fought to preserve freedom and defend their country back then.

    1. Thank you for reading, sir. Many of us here “looking back” today share the same sentiments and thoughts. They are truly being forgotten. They are even disappearing from our school textbooks. As such, we must tell their stories here. Thank you again.

      1. We really should, share it here. That’s the wonderful thing about blogging I find, it helps remember and share the most important chapters so they are never forgotten 🙂

  22. Thank you for this important story, told with tenderness, grace and sensitivity. It’s the kind of story that should be told in every middle school. What a beautiful testament to the human spirit!

    1. Thank you for your visit and kind comment. No, you will never see many paragraphs at all any more about WWII in school textbooks since the “change” towards “political correctness”. WWII history now, perhaps, leaves the young student wondering why the US dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. History textbooks now ignore 99% of the sacrifices made by men and women like Old Man Jack – no matter what side of the war your family was on.

  23. Thank you for sharing the story. I agree with lizmc, it’s told with grace and sensitivity. I agree history texbooks have overlooked the sacrifices…

    1. Thank you, Amy. I really am beginning to dislike the new mentality or viewpoints being taught to our children…but that’s just me, I guess. But it isn’t right to push into oblivion the 400,000 young men that were killed in WWII to preserve our freedoms…

  24. This was a very moving story, and I thank you for sharing it. I don’t think you should regret helping Jack share his memories. Sometimes it is therapeutic to speak of those things. I have some army buddies that I met at my uncle’s 30th division reunion, and it was relieving a burden for them to finally talk about it.

    1. Naomi, thank you. I am overwhelmed with all the kindness and sensitivity being shown by readers like yourself. If I may… the “J” word only came out when his mind digressed to being in hell on those islands 70 years ago. He never showed male ‘ve towards me or my family. Ever. He was a good man.

      Thank you again.

  25. An absolutely riveting story. There are very few posts with this much text that I would take in every word. Your story grabbed my heart. I believe you may have actually helped Jack to get these memories out in the open and to let them go before leaving this world. May jack rest in peace..

    1. Thank you for your kind words and thoughts about Old Man Jack. This was one of my earliest stories so my apologies on its length. His daughter told me Jack would twitch and kick in bed every night while uttering muffled yell outs of names. Yes, I do hope he is at peace now.

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