Friday, June 06, 2014

D-Day: What did you Do in the War, Grandpa?

Yes, I was there.  Well, no, not on Normandy Beach, but I do remember coming down the stairs to breakfast on the morning of June 6, 1944,  and hearing the radio news and saying "is it today?"  Yes, it is today.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief: I had long since computed the number of days* to my 17th  birthday and expressed the prayerful expectation that they would get this nuisance over with before then or I would have to go, and I would die (on the last point, I had no doubt).  So I heartily endorsed General Eisenhower's decision to smack 'em good.

I followed the newspapers thereafter and shared the general dismay when it turned out to be far harder than I had supposed it would be.  I learned about places I had never heard of (Aachan?)  Who spells a word with three a's?).** By the time the Battle of the Bulge rolled around--well, I suppose Ike wasn't too happy about it either. 

*3,180, with put me square into the Korean War.  But here, I had some of the best luck of my life.  Young men could "test out" of that one by getting high grades on the exam.   I guess you had to be 18 before you had to take the test: in the fall of my 17th year I remember watching my elders troop into the big open assembly hall for their moment of truth (or error, as the case may be).   By 
then, of course, we had the Eisenhower detente.   In any event, they must have suspended the test before they ever got to me.

Careful observers will be able to anticipate that I got lucky on the other end, also: by the time Viet Nam rolled around, I was too old to be of much interest to anybody.  I did have to serve a brief spell as a reserve trainee but that was more or less of  lark, of no earthly use to anybody.

**Wichita, who claims to have lived there, says my memory is faulty:  it's "Aachen," with only two As.  Very likely, but three is what I remember and two is more than enough.  And see also this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was just a year older than you but still in that lucky cohort that was first too young then too old to get caught up in our excellent adventures. My dad fell into the same category. Too young for WW1 and too old for WW2. He did spend the war doing construction all around the world.
No problem with Korea or any of the other cerfluffels but I did get to Vietnam as a civilian employee of the Army. Just before Tet so the war around Saigon was quiet.