Today is Veteran’s Day, a day to honor those who have served our country in the armed forces. If you have served in one of the branches of our military, thank you! Today I want to talk about one of my army heroes…
My papaw was born in 1895 and grew up on a small farm. He was drafted into the army and was wounded in the World War I Battle at Chateau-Thierry and later received the Purple Heart.
I was lucky enough to grow up just down the road from this wonderful man, who just happened to be the apple of my eye! Papaw and my dad farmed together, and they were my day-care providers the year before I started school. In addition to learning how to use tools and take care of the farm animals, I developed a love of baking from helping Papaw make cookies and cakes. He never used a recipe… just started mixing ingredients to make the most delicious desserts. He was known in the community for being an excellent cook and baker, and was often asked to bring dessert to local shindigs (as he liked to call all gatherings). His talent in the kitchen was fine tuned in the army after he was wounded and was sent to cook in the mess tent instead of being sent back into battle. Apparently his cooking skills caught the attention of someone, because he was moved to the officers’ mess tent to cook for them.
When I was in the eighth grade, I had to interview someone I admired and write a report about their story. I chose Papaw. I referred to him as “Grandfather” in the report because my teacher said reports should be formal and I was afraid she would take points off for me referring to him as “Papaw.” I got an A, and more importantly to me, I got to read the report to my class and tell them what a great man my papaw was!
On April 29, 1895, my grandfather was born in a small community named Olympia. At the age of 21 Grandfather was drafted by the United States Army. About a year later he was sent to France. On July 15, 1918, three months later, the Germans shelled them all night and most of the next day. There were only 75 out of 150 men that weren’t wounded or killed. My grandfather was sent to take some men to the hospital and on his way he was shot in the head. An American man found Grandfather and took him to the hospital. Grandfather had to share a bed* with a man who had gotten shot in the foot. Grandfather said that when he would turn over or hit the man’s foot that the man would yell, “Foot!” My grandfather would then say, “Hole in my head!”
After Grandfather got out of the hospital he had to cook for the fighting men because he wasn’t strong enough to fight. After the war Grandfather was discharged from the Army with the other Americans that were sent to France to fight in World War I.
*The hospital was so crowded with wounded soldiers, that the injured had to share hospital cots. It’s humbling to think what our veterans have done for us.
I did not mention in my story that my papaw had to play dead so he wouldn’t get shot a second time as the enemy walked around kicking at the soldiers to make sure they had been killed. Years later after Papaw’s hair had turned white, I always scrambled up on his lap right after he’d gotten a fresh crew cut to look for the bullet trench in the top of his head. The scar ran from the front to the back and actually was a hollowed out trench the length of the top of his head. It was an amazing sight to a little kid!
As much as I loved my papaw, my favorite veteran was my dad…
- Who is/was your favorite veteran?
- Are you a veteran?