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Memories of War: A Bulldog's Perspective

While we remember those who lost their lives fighting for this country, what we often forget is those who survived war were still victims. They carried memories of things they saw that stayed with them for all of their lives, memories that would often turn into nightmares.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - While we remember those who lost their lives fighting for this country, what we often forget is those who survived war were still victims. They carried memories of things they saw that stayed with them for all of their lives, memories that would often turn into nightmares.

ABC 24's Bulldog Mike Matthews shares a story about one such man.



The old man sat and his son ordered a couple of bottles of beer. It was one of the great things about getting old, he said, being able to have a couple of drinks with your son.

They talked for awhile, mostly about baseball, the old man used to talk about living a life of disappointment because he followed the Boston Red Sox.

But then he started talking about the war.

He was tall and skinny in 1944 and 1945. The Navy wouldn't accept him because he was, in fact, too skinny. So he at a bunch of bananas and joined the Coast Guard.

He drove a Higgins Boat, a troop landing barge. The old man talked about seeing the fear in the eyes of the soldiers.

"They'd get sick," he said. "Sometimes they lost control of their functions."

He said he could never forget that.

Then he started talking about Okinawa, how he brought troops in, during that first wave of troops.

He spoke in a loud voice. His hearing was one of the victims of the war. The guns firing, the wounded screaming, he had heard so much.

As he brought his group in, the men started yelling that there was a soldier on the beach. The old man saw the guy and went to the big machine gun in the back of the Higgins boat.

At this point, the old man started to cry. His son was surprised; he didn't know what to do, he'd never seen his father cry.

The old man said he opened fire on the guy on the beach and killed him. Later, when the beach had been taken, he went back to maybe get a souvenir of the man he killed.

That's when I realized, he said, he wasn't a soldier, he was a farmer. He wasn't carrying a gun, he was carrying a small shovel

He wondered what would happen when he died; this farmer with the shovel was his nightmare, he said, and he was afraid he'd be damned to Hell because he shot and killed a regular guy.

There have been so many people like this old man, ordinary young men who were called on by their country to do extraordinary things. Their wounds weren't just physical, sometimes their souls were victims, always wondering whether they did the right thing, always trying to forget what they saw, knowing they could never forget it.

The old man finished. He wiped his eyes quickly.

The son sat with his head down, not knowing what to say. He never heard the story again.

That old man was my father.

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