December 21st, 2010

Icarus

Hidden Gems


Tonight I talked with a WWII vet who also happens to be my client's dad. He served right at the end and participated in the tail end of the Battle of the Bulge as a tank driver. I love finding gems like this and listening to them tell stories... I encouraged him to tell me things, asked a question here or there and just let him talk until he looked like he needed more direction, then I'd ask another question. 

 

He told me about how they used to tie big trees to the sides of his tank to beef up the armor, how they'd react when they got hit by a mine, bazooka, or high power cannon... and what it did to the men inside (mines just throw the tread, but there are usually gunners waiting to hit those who jump out, bazookas penetrate and send shrapnel everywhere, and cannon rounds went right through, hopefully only getting one guy in the process). He was hit 5 times in total (all in different tanks, of course) and was the only one of 25 men in his platoon who didn't get wounded or killed... and in only 6 months.   He came in at the end of the war and sat outside Berlin as the Russians negotiated their way into having the honor of being the first into the city. 

 

Everybody else sat elsewhere and talked a lot about nothing... but I noticed one of his adult children was listening. I have this vague feeling they don't ask him to talk about it.  He never hesitated to keep talking as long as I wanted to listen and more than once I saw a tear sneak its way down his cheek. He ignored it like it didn't exist and so did I.