Today is Memorial Day in the states, the day we remember and honor all of those that have fought and served this country in our military. I thought I would share a few stories of my grandfather.
John "Jack" William Head was a veteran of World War 2. A marine who fought in the battle for the Pacific. He was on Guam. He was part of the 3rd marine Division assault. Unfortunately the Marines were dropped on a beach at surrounded by a high ridge. Japanese soldiers opened fire immediately and the Marine casualties were high. Your grandfather was the Master Sergeant and every one of higher rank was killed on the landing. Dad's men were pinned down by rifle and machine gun fire from on top of the ridge, so Dad took two men with him and started up the ill to try and open a path for the men on the beach. The Japanese saw them coming and began to roll live grenades and mortar shells down the hill. The two men with Dad were killed. He was badly injured and rolled back down the hill. He was placed with other injured men on the beach. When it became obvious that the assault had failed, the Marines withdrew leaving the dead on the beach. Dad was one of those they thought was dead. When the Marines returned in the morning with greater numbers and better support from heavy Navy guns they found some of the men left behind were in fact still alive. Your Grandfather was one of them. He was sent to a hospital ship where he recuperated. He then was assigned to the invasion troops that would lead the assault on the Japanese islands which never happened. My grandfather was one of the most gentle and kind men I ever knew, but he was also someone you didn't cross. There was strength there. (thanks to my Uncle Tony for reminding me of the specifics - I have used his words)
Years later, my grandfather was looking through a book of photos from the war. He received the book as a proud veteran and member of the VFW. My grandfather made his living as commercial artist, during the same time period that Mad Men takes place in. So he had an eye for great work. As he was looking through this book, he found a photo that caught his eye. He saw the aces of three of his friends from the war. He pointed them out to my Grandmother and said 'I should be somewhere around here - I remember walking with them on Christmas Eve.'
Imagine his surprise as my grandmother Rosalie looked over his shoulder and said "Jack, that's you right in the middle!" and so it was. My father and uncle both got copies and now I am proud to have one in my office. Hanging right next to his medals, including the Purple Heart.
Today is a day we honor our veterans and active military. Today is the day I remember my Papa Jack.