My grandfather served in both World War II and the Korean War, as did many of his generation. Thankfully, he survived both wars, and became my Dad’s Dad and my Grandpa. Grandpa turned down a purple heart for a wound he received on his hand during combat. He turned it down because he felt there were so many others who had suffered much more than he, and he did not believe his wound was worthy of a purple heart.
When I wrote to my grandparents in college asking them for family stories, he shared a story about surviving a typhoon while on a navy ship near Okinawa. I guess this one stuck with me because years after this story took place, I was born on Okinawa while my Dad was in the army.
Those who serve our country endure so many perils day in and day out, and I am forever grateful for them and the freedom they protect.
My Grandpa died eleven years ago from heart disease, and I still miss him terribly. I get my love of history and stories from him. Here is my Grandpa’s short story in his own words.
In 1945, I was at the island of Okinawa. A typhoon was coming and we were ordered out to sea to ride the storm out. At that time, I was on a small ship, LCSL-17. It was only about 25 or 30 feet wide and no more than 172-200 feet long. We had a flat bottom and in a storm, it shook you to pieces. The waves were thirty-five feet high. We could not cook or do any work. I found a five gallon can of mixed nuts and lived on that for about three days. My job was to steer the ship, and we had to be roped or tied to a metal round bar behind us so we could have our hands free to steer. There were two or three larger ships lost in that storm.
I was young, and I don’t remember being scared – but I should have been. It was en experience I would not want to do again. But I am glad that I went through it.