This is a rambling post about a member of the Greatest Generation I met today while getting my lunch – it is probably too wordy but the 15 minutes I got with this hero today was hard to put in a few sentences.
Today I walked into a local pizza shop for my lunch break – craving their Italian sub – not really what I needed but man they are tasty. As I entered the establishment an older fella got my attention because of the baseball cap he was wearing. It was a WWII hat and when I see those I immediately drawn to the person wearing it. Two reasons – they are part of the greatest generation and as many if not all WWII veterans are in their 90’s they are a virtual vessel full of information! I planned on stopping by before I left to just tell the gentleman thank you for his service.
Looking over the available tables I settled on the one next to where the fella with the WWII hat was sitting. This is when I was going to simply tell him thank you for his service. I said “WWII vet huh?” (I am pretty observant, ha) and he said yes sir. I told him thank you for your service, shook his hand and also asked the other gentleman at his table if had served as well. He said yes during the Vietnam era – I told him thank you as well and shook his hand. Blame it on bad manners but I did not catch his name – but he was not as eager to talk as they guy I am about to introduce you to was.
My sub was going to take 10 minutes so wanting to know more I turned my chair towards their table – I said to the WWII veteran can I ask your name, he said yes it’s Carl, I couldn’t catch his last name. He asked mine and I told him – then we got to talking and Carl was eager to talk – perfect!
Carl was born in Massachusetts and still has his accent, which is cool! We got to talking about age and he said he was 29 backwards – 92 years old and still making jokes! We talked about kids, his career and briefly about his brother. His brother i believe had recently passed away but Carl mentioned that his brother was a gunnery sergeant in WWII and let a platoon of 350 men – I wish I had taken better mental notes (I took a few on my phone as he spoke but didn’t want to appear rude by being on my phone) but with sadness in his eye he said that only 60 including his brother survived. 250 men killed within a few minutes/hours – fighting for our freedom. You hear about it via movies, history books, etc. but to hear it from a WWII vet was quite moving.
I can’t recall even what Carl’s branch was – but listening to him talk about everything made me smile, especially when he began to talk about his family, which he did with a smile on his face the entire time. Carl and his late wife of 69 years had 11 children in all, 8 I believe which served in the military in some capacity. Carl told me he saw his wife as he and some other soldiers were driving by and he told a fellow soldier, “I can’t leave without talking to her. His wife was serving as a Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) I believe he said – he showed me a picture of her he carries in his wallet of her in uniform – there was a reason Carl couldn’t pass up the chance to speak with her, she was beautiful. Well Carl did talk to her and they were married two weeks later – he also showed me their wedding picture with a huge smile on his face. I felt like Carl and I were old friends reminiscing.
As my Italian sub arrived I talked a few more minutes with Carl and learned he had 32 grand-kids and 52 (yes fifty-two!) great grand-kids! I ate my sub, emptied my trash and then made my way back to the Carl’s table – told him and his friend “Thank you again for your service” – Carl replied yes sir and God Bless you.
*I hope to meet Carl again in town somewhere to fill in the many gaps of this post but if I don’t I am a better person just for listening and talking to him today.
#WWII #worldwar2 #greatestgeneration