Monday, May 30, 2011

Condolences on the Beach

My father's brother was a Marine in World War II. He was killed by a sniper during the battle for the coral atoll of Palau.

Days later, my father, a sergeant in the Air Force, had just waded onto a Philippine beach 800 miles west of Palau when the officer commanding his advance party came up to him with an envelope. He opened it and handed my father an American Red Cross message reporting the death of his brother. Then, while troops and equipment kept coming ashore, the officer handed Dad a cup, opened a whiskey bottle and poured it into the cup.

After a few words of condolence, the officer moved away and Dad went on with his work but he never forgot that brief moment of empathy shown by the major which lingers in his mind, 67 years later.


Leann said...

I have to admit the first thing I thought was, what poor timing. When your Dad should have been focusing on the task at hand and keeping himself alive he was told of his brother's death. It is wonderful, and sez a lot for the man's character that he empathized with your father in that fragile moment.
We are fortunate to have had men like your father serving when wars were fought that actually meant something.

MarkD60 said...

I will never forget when my sister called me and told me that my brother was murdered.

Penelope Marzec said...

Mark: My sympathies on the tragic passing of your brother. My brother died when his F-111 crashed. I'll never forget that phone call either.