Old Man Jack-isms #3

One of the few times Old Man Jack would tell me what island something happened on, it would be humorous – as humorous as he could make it.

He HAD to laugh off some of the horror.  He needed to survive being under attack by his own thoughts.

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On January 16, 2011, eleven months before he passed away, we decided to go to Denny’s for breakfast.  He hated that place – except for their (gawd awful) coffee.  He loved their coffee.  And he complained about the coffee on the islands.  Imagine that.  Denny’s coffee couldn’t have tasted that much different.  Denny’s uses ocean water, too, you know, for their distinctive flavor.  Perhaps that is why he liked their coffee.

Jack with “Green Island” story and his tradmark grin – Jan. 16, 2011.

“Green Island” was Jack’s last combat station when he earned enough points to be rotated back home.  He told me when they yelled out his name, he just ran straight onto this makeshift pier where a PBy was starting up.  He jumped in wearing only his shorts and boots.  They took off.  He was on his way home.

(Click here if you wish to see official US Navy photos of Green Island when Old Man Jack was stationed there.)

In my internet research, I did come across some detailed battle history of Green Island.  I printed it out and not knowing how he would react (even after 11 years of friendship), I presented it to him before the (gawd awful) coffee came.  I didn’t want him to be TOO alert in case things didn’t go well. 🙂

Well, you can see his reaction.  He was “tickled and pickled” I went through the trouble.

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During breakfast, he told me about one detail he was assigned to on Green Island – the digging of new holes for latrines.   Never mind my eggs were over-easy.  But he’s gone through hell whereas I was spared.  This was everyday fare for him.

He told me he picked out two “dumb new guys” who thought they knew everything for the detail.  They went out where the other “used up” latrines were.  He ordered them to start digging new holes in this hard coral-like stuff not too far from the other “used up” holes while he “supervised”.

I knew I would get his goat if I interrupted him.  That was part of the fun.

So I interrupted him.  For fun.

“Jack…dig?  Why didn’t you just have them make a small hole then throw in a grenade?”

Well, I asked for it…  in Denny’s…  on a busy Saturday morning.

“You dumb shit,” he declared with that boyish grin.  “YOU could have been one of the dumb new guys.  YOU would have fit right in.  We didn’t need any more craters!  We had LOTS of craters – all around us!  So we dug holes like we were ordered to.  So shut up and listen!”

Whooo-ee.  That was fun… in Denny’s… on a busy Saturday morning.

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I never asked him if he read the history on Green Island.  Later on, though, Old Man Jack said he had wanted to go back to those “stinkin’ islands” just to see.  It felt as if he wanted to let some demons out.

He never made it back.

Perhaps he’s there now saluting his young buddies he had to leave behind.

22 thoughts on “Old Man Jack-isms #3”

  1. I love Old Man Jack and I wish I got to meet him. Dad was just digging a latrine in one of his letters. But in 1943 he would not have been a new dumb ass. lol Thanks for sharing this wonderful man with us.

  2. You must have been a gift to him. You helped him laugh, helped him cuss, and helped him race his fancy mustang. I enjoy your stories with him as much as you appreciated the time you had with him.

  3. Great Story, I felt like I was in the next booth. What a wonderful relationship, love Jack and I unfortunately never met him

  4. Funny…I miss having someone like Jack in my life. Jack reminds me of my own dad in so many ways…and if there is a Denny’s or a Perkins (my dads favorite because they made good strong Army coffee) I am sure they are swapping stories over their coffee. 🙂 What a treasure you found in that friendship.

    1. It isn’t funny at all… We both lost treasures and indeed, they are likely both having a drink right now and being rabble-rousers…or having a good ole Army/Navy duke out. 🙂

  5. What a wonderful man! I’m so new to your blog that I will need to go back and learn a lot more about him and your relationship to him. I’m sure he had horror stories, but that smile definitely shows his sense of humor. How wonderful that he held onto that. I look forward to piecing together a bit more of the story! Debra

  6. I am glad that you were there for Jack. From what I’ve read you both benefited from this relationship in lots of wonderful ways, most of them intangible. Those are the things of great worth in one’s life. And it sounds like your family benefited as well. Thank you.

    1. …and I thank you, Jeffssong, for your past service to our country as a US Marine. I also pray you also find a loyal companion to get things off your chest when you need to…

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