Saturday, June 06, 2009

I had two great-uncles, both now in the soil,

who served in WWII. George Llanes was a skinny guy from south Texas who wound up in the Navy as a hard-hat diver. Ray Wells, Army Infantry in Europe.

Neither of them talked about it. Ever. Until the last few years before they died, each would say a few things. Not much. When Clinton was talking up an invasion of Iraq(and being surprised everyone didn't jump on his wagon), and George talked- a little. About Tarawa, mostly, and dead Marines in the water and on the beaches. Only time I ever heard him speak of his time in the Pacific. He wound up on full disability from injuries received. He did mention(that same night) that a lot of it came when they were diving on a sunken Japanese submarine, and were bombed; as I recall, he said "They knew we were diving on it, and didn't want us to get any intelligence from it."

Ray went over, and came back. And didn't talk about it to the family at all, not even his wife. The little ever heard was when a guy from his unit passing not too far away made a point to visit. Ray's wife, that evening, got him aside and asked him about it. Didn't get much; he didn't like talking about it either. Ray was a country boy who grew up hunting and fishing, he knew how to move in the woods and was, until the last couple of years, one hell of a shot. The friend did say that in one battle, there were eight Germans he personally knew Ray killed; and, worse than the killing, kids coming to their camps to beg for food. Ray was one of those who went without some nights because he couldn't stand to see them go hungry another night. He served from somewhere in France until the end, came home and, like George and a lot of others, considered it a dirty job that'd had to be done but they didn't want to think about it, or talk about it, once over.

Both were the kind of men you were glad to know, good friends. Who did something that had to be done, like a whole lot of others.

1 comment:

Fire said...

Bless their hearts.

I can't even begin to imagine what kinds of hauntings they would experience when they would hear a certain sound, or smell something, see something, etc. And being that they never talked about it...they dealt with the haunting memories alone, to spare others, no doubt.

May God hold them close now.

(Just found out that my nephew is now back in Iraq...his third time)