(photo http://www.flickr.com/photos/fatguyinalittlecoat/5310405113/ by Justin Cozart)
Imagine you are a young man, raised on a farm in South Dakota, USA. Imagine you are sent to countries you have barely heard of to fight during World War II. You train with guys from states that previously meant nothing more to you than an outline on a map.
You and those guys ship out, and you rely on each other for your lives. Imagine being caught in a battle on a jungle island in the Pacific. Soldiers around you--guys you know--fall dead or injured. You could run to save yourself. Or you could try to help one of your own. What would you do?
My husband's uncle, Howard Johnson, chose to help a fallen comrade, and in doing so, sustained injury himself. His wartime service earned him a Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, Bronze Service Arrowhead, and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon.
When Howard's family went through his things after his death this summer, they found and displayed his Army uniform. In the pocket, all these years later, was his ticket home.
Howard went on to work, marry, and enjoy the freedoms he helped earn, as so many veterans have. Across the United States are men and women who served in the Armed Forces with the desire to preserve that freedom and to come home to experience it. On Veteran's Day, November 11, we honor them and remember those who did not come home.
Thank you, Howard Johnson, and all who have served and who are currently serving in the US Armed Forces.
(For more family history and WWII connections, see this blog post.)
If you have a veteran's story you'd like to tell, please leave it in the comments below.