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11/11/2008

Don't forget.

Posted by Gwen |

My Grandpa.  Air Force, World War II.

Growing up there was a secret "war pouch" stored at the top of the hall closet in my grandparent's house.  All we knew about it was that Grandpa brought it home from the war and we WERE NOT TO TOUCH.  The pouch was so verboten that we all forgot it existed.  The summer between my junior and senior years of undergrad I stayed at my Grandpa's house.  Grandma had passed, he was living there alone, and honestly, I had nowhere else to go.  We had a grand summer.  We did all kinds of things together but our favorite pasttime was sitting at the dining room table and pouring over maps.  He would show me where he had been in the war and tell me stories.  We would pick out places I should see before I die.  I can hardly write this through the tears, I miss him so much.

One day we were looking at maps and he got up and went into the living room.  I had no idea what he was doing until he came back carrying The Pouch.  I immediately went still, waiting to see what he was going to do, mesmerized by fear and confusion because he had never, ever, ever wanted to talk about the war and yet there he was, 45+ years later, dragging out The Pouch and showing me its contents.  The things he had kept were amazing: official orders, patches, letters, pictures.  The best thing in that pouch was a picture of him standing next to a naked Aborigine woman who he called by name and described as his "girlfriend."  It was a red-letter day, one I will never forget.

This is my Grandpa's brother Milo.  No one ever called him Milo, he was Uncle Spru.  I don't know much about his service history but I do know that Uncle Spru was always going to take me home in a paper sack.  I loved him because he wanted me.

Every family has men like these.  Take a moment today and think about them.  They were brave whether they wanted to be or not.  They saw horrible things so we don't have to.

Don't forget them.

25 comments:

Dr Zibbs said...

Oh man!!! I totally thought you were going to say that in the sack was Hitler's head. Also, what was the name of the naked Aborigine girl? I bet it was something like MookaBooka or something like that. Was it? Yeah. It was I bet. Old MookaBooka.

Dr Zibbs said...

And Gwen, could you post the picture of nude MookaBooka? Please? If not, please email it to me. And what was your Grand Pappy doing in Australia? That's where Aborigini's live you know. Unless she was like a spy or something. Was she? Yeah she was.

Poobomber said...

I can't imagine going to war. The people that did in the name of freedom were (and are) brave and honorable.

Your grandpa was a sugar daddy! I thought things like that only happened in movies! Awesome, really...the stories he had must have been astounding.

Gwen said...

Doc: I don't remember her name - keep in mind it was like getting to look at the Holy Grail - I was a nervous wreck! Grandpa was a mechanic in the Air Force. I suspect that's where they took the broken planes to get fixed.

pistols at dawn said...

It's great that you got to spend that time with your grandfather. My grandfather was a pilot toward the end of the war, I believe, but I never really paid attention when old people were talking, so I don't have a touching story like yours, just yet another one where I'm a self-obsessed jerk.

Still, I imagine that for him, sharing those memories with you and seeing your interest in his sacrifices made them all seem worth it.

Renaissance Woman said...

I love that you are sharing his stories and reminding all of us to be thankful. I love the stories, pictures...and your love for him is so sweet.

McGone said...

My dad didn't discuss Vietnam until - one day, out of the blue it seemed - he opened up and re-embraced his Marine identity. It really was odd to look back and see the ways he had to cope with it, but in the end it truly shaped who he was. I ran his picture on the IHoB today too (along with my grandpa).

By the way, I love the name Milo - why did he go by Spru?

Stacie said...

great post...

Anonymous said...

My grandfather was in WW 2. That's where he met my grandmother in Germany. He was proud to fight for his country although he told me about what it was like to be Black in the U.S. Army in the 40's.

My uncle George (My grandmother's brother) flew for the Luftwaffer(?) Unfortunatley I can't show you the best familt photo I have seen. It's my Grandmother and her sister, Grandfather and 2 of his buds in their army greens and my great uncle George, his cousin Wolfgang and another soldier in their German greys.

Gwen said...

McGone: Vietnam, what a mind fuck that had to have been. Family legend says Uncle Spru was a bit of a dandy and Spru was a derivative of getting "spruced up for the ladies."

Gwen said...

Anon: What an interesting story and family! Why can't you show us the picture?

Sass said...

Gwen that was seriously an amazing post.

I used to work with elderly people, and one day, this guy sat me down and started talking to me about Iwo Jima. I left with tears in my eyes, and a new friend.

Thank you for this post. :)

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Great story Gwen. I gotta say that I thought there were some serious weapons of mass destruction in that pouch. How cool that you got to view it's contents with your Gramps.

LYDIA said...

Why does Zibbs want to see the Aborigine woman naked? Gross.

Your post reminds me of my grandpa's, both have passed - They were also in the Air Force in WWII.

Dr Zibbs said...

Lydia - for research purposes.

Giggle Pixie said...

This was beautiful, Gwen. Thanks for sharing.

Falwless said...

Beautiful post. I have nothing dumb to say.

enc said...

Thanks for the thoughtful remembrance. My grandpa was in WWII, also, and this day always makes me remember him. And miss him.

:D

words words words said...

Days like this tend to be mundane and get divorced from their meaning until you read something like your post. It was very personal and yet universal.

Some Guy said...

Late to thepost as I am, I have nothing to add other than thanks for a touching post, Gwen.

Sausage Mechanic said...

As a veteran (not of a shooting war, but the Cold War) I thank you for the post. Veterans are, after all, just folks...fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, etc. We did our job, then lived our lives for the ones we love. Your Grandfather would be proud you felt strongly enough to post this. Regardless of how you feel about this current war in Iraq, remember that some day the men and women fighting there will be grandparents telling their grandchildren what it was like.

Fancy Schmancy said...

My father was a mechanic in the Air Force, also.

He, thankfully, didn't see any combat first hand, but he was sent to the Russian border at one point in the mid-50's when they thought things were going to get out of hand.

Thanks for bringing back some memories of things he told me from those days. And thanks for remembering the people who have fought for our freedom.

Spud Mack said...

Great story Gwen. A lot of American service men were stationed in Australia because the Japanese were moving south through asia and had even deployed submarines in to Sydney harbour at one stage. My grandfather was stationed in Darwin where bomb raids were nearly undertaken. It is amazing how involved Australia actually was in this war that is not well known elsewhere. When the war ended, a huge number of US troops who had met Aus women got married and moved back to the US. So much so that the term 'war bride' exists and there are large networks of expat war bride's that meet regularly in the US and have been for the last 50 years.

slopmaster said...

I would also like to see the picture of the naked aborigenee. come on!!

Awesome story though. Not everyone has a grandpa like that, you had a special one.

LegalMist said...

That was beautiful. I was even tearing up. Then I read the comments, starting with good old Dr. Z, and laughed my ass off. Great combo!

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