My dad was one.
He was a doctor who volunteered for WWII and was in the jungles of New Guinea and landed after the Biak invasion.
He was ambushed during surgery once by some Japanese soldiers and had a gunfight over the operating table.
Some of the time, there was no American air cover, and the Japanese planes straffed the operating tent.
He received a case of permanent jungle rot from his experience.
He told me that the worst part was seeing young people die from their wounds. He wound have to examine the guts of the wounded to find and close up bullet holes.
He was a hero, one of many.
My mom said his personality was different after the war, more serious and a bit irritable.
He probably had PTSD.
My dad was one.
My father was U.S. Army during the war. He wasn’t in combat - although he did witness the attack on Pearl - the Army taught him Japanese and he spent the war monitoring communications between Tokyo and the Japanese Embassy in Moscow.
His wife was a WASP who was killed when the bomber she was flying crashed.
My mother was Red Cross and served in Hawaii.
And, of course, many of their friends had similar experiences.
My great-uncle, who passed away this past year, was a WWII vet. He was not very willing to talk about his war experiences. He was German-American, and unfortunately he was the target of a lot of nastiness about his German heritage from his fellow soldiers and also officers. He eventually overcame this to some extent, by being twice as friendly, twice as patriotic, twice as willing to do dangerous or unpleasant work, and I think as time went on, this constant effort created a great deal of anxiety for him. He was sent home after being wounded in Italy, after two years of service. I believe he was always a little bitter about the poor way he was treated while he was putting his life on the line for his country.
My great uncle was in the Battle of the Bulge. He died not long ago.
A close family friend was a Navy machinist’s mate. He was present in Tokyo Bay, on another ship, when the surrender documents were signed on the USS MISSOURI.
Both of my grandfathers were not fit for service - one had a heart murmur, one was older and had many children. They both served in their way, as did everyone on the home front at the time. One was at the shipyards in Baltimore building Liberty ships, the other was in Pittsburgh in the steel mills.
My one grandfather, and my grandmother who worked as a nurse at this time, are still alive.
Delphica, it is my understanding that 30% of the U.S. military in WWII was of German descent, including, most notably, Eisenhower.
I am not saying this to doubt your uncle’s experience, only to note that it was probably common. And yet these men served.
Dad was one of eight kids, five brothers and three sisters born between 1915 and 1930 or so.
All of the brothers served in the Pacific:[ul][li]Eldest was a marine and was at Pearl Harbor. He may have shot down a Zero.[/li][li]I think the worst thing Dad experienced was the New Zealand lamb that was green by the time it reached Guam. The only enemy he saw were a guy who walked out of the bush when they were watching movies (he just wanted to watch) and, after VJ day, a couple of Japanese officers who jumped out of the bush in front of him and a buddy and gave a swordsmanship demonstration before surrendering. Dad and the buddy were unarmed at the time.[/li][li]The youngest got his parents permission to join the Marines. I think he was at Iwo Jima, but family lore says that the other marines pushed him to the bottom of the landing craft and kept him there. He re-upped for Korea, and was stationed in Japan for Vietnam but snuck in a few times–something about proving the littlest was a man like his brothers.[/li][li]I would have had an uncle who was a tanker in the Battle of the Bulge if he wasn’t killed there by a grenade.[/ul][/li]
BTW, Mr. Moto, Grandmother’s last name was Schumacher. My wife’s father’s family is all German-American and they went. One of them was awarded something for getting ten or fifteen German soldiers to surrender; all he did was told them in German that he knew where they could get some food.
An Uncle and my Father-in-law served in WWII and Korea respectively.
My late grandfather served in the Royal Artillery in North Africa and in Burma. Another relative is one of the very few survivors from HMS Prince of Wales, torpedoed in the Pacific.
My grandfather is a WWII hero (at least I think he is). He served in the Navy in the Pacific. He doesn’t really like to talk about it.
A close friend of the family who died recently served as an Army infantryman in Europe during WWII. Another hero as far as I am concerned.
My dad, who was in the Army, was stationed in both the Phillipines and New Guinea during WWII.
One of my uncles served in the Navy both in WWII and Korea. He, too, was also stationed in the Pacific.
My mother was attending an engagement party on 12/7/41 – the announcement came over the radio re Pearl Harbor, and the festivities came to a screeching halt. Everyone in attendance had a family member in the armed forces…
Neither my dad nor my uncle every spoke about what they encountered…
My immediate response to this question was I grew up with them as my parents, aunts, uncles, teachers and everyone that was a grown-up. Maybe like veterans of other wars it was that they just did not want to talk about the war and so they talked more about the depression. It still left me with the impression that the depression actually was a bigger deal in their lives than WWII.
WWII played a part in the earliest part of my life that I can remember, so it would be something like some dopers who were small children during the Vietnam War and their knowing members of the generation that served in that war. There are at least a couple of dopers who are part of the “Greatest Generation”.