This Chief’s D Day Thoughts

Posted: June 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

This D Day Anniversary I thought about an old veteran I met in Staten Island. I walked into a bar below the apartment I lived in wearing my dress blues, having just returned from the funeral of a shipmate.
An older man I had never met asked, “Hey Chief, can I buy you a beer?” Thank you, I replied.

He stood up and crying, gave me a hug. “You look great Chief and do the uniform proud. Thank you for your your service and I want to say that you make an old sailor awful proud.

He turned and left before I could say anything. I asked who he was and was directed to a yellowed newspaper article hanging in a frame on the wall.

The man who had just left was a WWII veteran whose ship had been sunk by torpedoes and he was the sole survivor. In that article he talked to the reporter about guilt over being the only guy who made it and of being haunted by the screams of his shipmates from their injuries and helplessly watching as they struggled to stay afloat.

I never saw the man again to express my thanks and to try and ease his burden. I think I did that day though. Those of you who have never has a shipmate might find that odd, but there is a comradeship, a bond that is shared by those who have served and suffered with the loss of their shipmates.

I am fortunate to have been a part of that brotherhood and some of my old shipmates will read this, knowing that I am always here for them. I’m also unfortunate to feel the guilt of having survived the loss of many shipmates.

This D Day, take a moment and think about the brave men who served that day, who gave their lives selflessly and gave everything that they could give. If you are fortunate enough to meet a WWII Veteran, take a moment to tell him that you are proud of him and thank him.

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