I first met this D-Day survivor in a retirement kitchen

(c) 2019 copyright by nancy vorkink machin

My neighbor, Pete, as we knew him cheerfully said ‘every day is a good day.’  A quiet, kind gentlemen who received meals on wheels. His door and inset held many Catholic crosses, and wooden mementos to “Dad”. I knew nothing of his background, just every day was a good day.  This was refreshing. I sensed a man however with a history, an actively engaged individual as exemplified by daily trips to the post office. Did he have a secret admirer?

I had been working with war heroes of World War II on the Library of Congress Veterans’ History Project. We had covered tropical battlefields, naval dockyards, serving underage, and pride in service. I even wrote one book, a profile on one Navy Seabee in WWII who experienced the ocean for the first time, transferred on several troopships in the Philippines and China, and sent $19/month to his mom in Texas, besides living on white bread and one slice of baloney. All my Navy guys were sea sick: vomiting, completing the mission were the norm. Leaving home after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and leaving school also was a common denominator. Much of the military information was still classified. I had no connections, but I did have a curious, research mind to keep digging.

One day, Pete’s sink overflowed, from lack of use — the disposal — what a mess. My sink also was impacted. I walked into his small unit then, and noticed the photo of the LST 510 wreck on the wall, a large writing table facing the park, and an open Bible. By then, I knew what a LST was, a military landing tanker like ‘jaws’, and soon learned he had survived the Allied Invasion of Normandy, June 1944. 

And why he made so many trips to the post office.

[To be continued. May 28, 2019]


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