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Old 12-27-2019, 12:13 PM
 
12,785 posts, read 19,010,743 times
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I usually don't post personal information on here, but over Christmas I was visiting family in another state, including my aging father (in his 90s).

He flew a B26 Invader in the Korean War, flying 50 missions over the bomb line into North Korea on night interdiction missions in 1952-53. The B26 was perfect for Korea: a light and fast bomber designed to fly at low altitudes and drop a heck of alot of ordnance including napalm, and top it off with strafing runs with up to six machine guns in the nose or wing. He has written down his memories about a decade ago for his children and grand children telling his daily life on a rustic air base, the cold, the military nonsense he had to go through, his life between missions at the base, and some of his more hair raising missions. But it was somewhat watered down, with only hints here and there of the horrors those in the air and on the ground must have gone through. He had also forgotten alot.

Last few years I have gotten more and more into the history - reading books the Korean War, sharing books with my father on the B26. This year I had a historical air force jacket created with a historically correct patches designated his bomber squadron and wing that I proudly showed to him just last week on my visit. For christmas I gave him a B26 coffee cup and one of my left over patches. For me, it's part of history, somewhat glamorous and adventurous. I want to hear more and understand more from him, hey it's part of history. I love history.

This was a mistake I think, it's resurrected some dark memories. I just found out now that on Christmas day this week my sister sat with him as he was staying at her families house (I would see him later that day). He was up, sat on a bed, and said softly "Christmas 1952 was a bad time for me", he then described flying 4 missions back to back. December 23rd to December 26th. Then he looked down and said "I killed people on Christmas Day" and was quiet for a time and didn't say a word after that. Just repeated it was a bad time. Finally they moved on to another topic. And me the idiot later that day gave him a B26 coffee cup as his Christmas gift. It breaks my heart, what he must have been thinking about all day.

Not sure what the lesson is here except that for those that prod our fathers and grandfathers for their war history, be careful about digging to deep. Some thought are best left forgotten. It breaks my heart that I caused these memories to resurface.
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Old 12-27-2019, 12:30 PM
 
Location: Roaring '20s
1,820 posts, read 465,382 times
Reputation: 6935
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
I usually don't post personal information on here, but over Christmas I was visiting family in another state, including my aging father (in his 90s).

He flew a B26 Invader in the Korean War, flying 50 missions over the bomb line into North Korea on night interdiction missions in 1952-53. The B26 was perfect for Korea: a light and fast bomber designed to fly at low altitudes and drop a heck of alot of ordnance including napalm, and top it off with strafing runs with up to six machine guns in the nose or wing. He has written down his memories about a decade ago for his children and grand children telling his daily life on a rustic air base, the cold, the military nonsense he had to go through, his life between missions at the base, and some of his more hair raising missions. But it was somewhat watered down, with only hints here and there of the horrors those in the air and on the ground must have gone through. He had also forgotten alot.

Last few years I have gotten more and more into the history - reading books the Korean War, sharing books with my father on the B26. This year I had a historical air force jacket created with a historically correct patches designated his bomber squadron and wing that I proudly showed to him just last week on my visit. For christmas I gave him a B26 coffee cup and one of my left over patches. For me, it's part of history, somewhat glamorous and adventurous. I want to hear more and understand more from him, hey it's part of history. I love history.

This was a mistake I think, it's resurrected some dark memories. I just found out now that on Christmas day this week my sister sat with him as he was staying at her families house (I would see him later that day). He was up, sat on a bed, and said softly "Christmas 1952 was a bad time for me", he then described flying 4 missions back to back. December 23rd to December 26th. Then he looked down and said "I killed people on Christmas Day" and was quiet for a time and didn't say a word after that. Just repeated it was a bad time. Finally they moved on to another topic. And me the idiot later that day gave him a B26 coffee cup as his Christmas gift. It breaks my heart, what he must have been thinking about all day.

Not sure what the lesson is here except that for those that prod our fathers and grandfathers for their war history, be careful about digging to deep. Some thought are best left forgotten. It breaks my heart that I caused these memories to resurface.
Your sharing of this story is a very worthy contribution to this forum.

I think one lesson is that the unseen scars of war run deep, and that veterans suffer from what they did even when those things are widely deemed necessary or right. It's one thing to receive recognition (medals, parades, etc.) and congratulations for one's service along with assurances that it was honorable. It's another to grapple with the reality of taking the lives of people. It's the same reason that LEOs often suffer the psychological consequences even of shootings that meet every standard of justifiable.
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Old 12-27-2019, 12:30 PM
 
Location: Wisconsin
18,070 posts, read 18,498,161 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
(snip) my aging father (in his 90s).

He flew a B26 Invader in the Korean War, flying 50 missions over the bomb line into North Korea on night interdiction missions in 1952-53.

This was a mistake I think, it's resurrected some dark memories. I just found out now that on Christmas day this week my sister sat with him as he was staying at her families house (I would see him later that day). He was up, sat on a bed, and said softly "Christmas 1952 was a bad time for me", he then described flying 4 missions back to back. December 23rd to December 26th. Then he looked down and said "I killed people on Christmas Day" and was quiet for a time and didn't say a word after that. (various snips)

Not sure what the lesson is here except that for those that prod our fathers and grandfathers for their war history, be careful about digging to deep. Some thought are best left forgotten. It breaks my heart that I caused these memories to resurface.
I am so sorry. Look at it another way. He kept those feelings and thoughts hidden for so long that it may have finally been a relief to share them.

A relative was in the Vietnam and rarely, rarely spoke of the war. Except for his sadness of the "hidden war" that all three of his children and all of his grandchildren -including two that died- had serious birth defects almost certainly connected to his exposure to Agent Orange.

However, now that he is older (mid 70s) he is starting to share some of the less happy, less "PG 13 stories". I think that it is because he is facing his own mortality and wants to "get things off his chest:.

Last edited by germaine2626; 12-27-2019 at 12:43 PM..
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Old 12-27-2019, 05:00 PM
 
12,785 posts, read 19,010,743 times
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Thanks guys, it's been bothering me all day. Indeed mortality is part of it, my sister says he is going to church now and questioning if he was a good enough husband (my mother passed away a couple years ago).

What is still troubling is that his hearing aid went out that day (batteries) a few days ago. So he couldn't hear a thing. So here we all a huge family having dinner, children, grandchildren, great grand children, friends, celebrating Christmas, laughing, cheering - peace, good will to men, all that. And my father sitting in silence, not hearing a thing, thinking back 67 years ago to a Christmas spent in a cockpit of a cold metal B-26 flying 100 feet off the ground, maybe lower, sweating in fear in spite of the cold, dodging everything from flak to small arms fire, maybe after lighting them up with a napalm run, seeing humans run around like so many matches, pushing the .50 cal machine gun release, and reigning death down to people on the ground that were simply trying to do a job and make it home alive just like him. Seeing the human matches drop. And then me, with my damn gift - a damn B26 coffee mug.
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Old 12-28-2019, 02:09 PM
 
5,652 posts, read 2,461,210 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
Thanks guys, it's been bothering me all day. Indeed mortality is part of it, my sister says he is going to church now and questioning if he was a good enough husband (my mother passed away a couple years ago).

What is still troubling is that his hearing aid went out that day (batteries) a few days ago. So he couldn't hear a thing. So here we all a huge family having dinner, children, grandchildren, great grand children, friends, celebrating Christmas, laughing, cheering - peace, good will to men, all that. And my father sitting in silence, not hearing a thing, thinking back 67 years ago to a Christmas spent in a cockpit of a cold metal B-26 flying 100 feet off the ground, maybe lower, sweating in fear in spite of the cold, dodging everything from flak to small arms fire, maybe after lighting them up with a napalm run, seeing humans run around like so many matches, pushing the .50 cal machine gun release, and reigning death down to people on the ground that were simply trying to do a job and make it home alive just like him. Seeing the human matches drop. And then me, with my damn gift - a damn B26 coffee mug.
I am sorry to hear your grandfather is fighting these "demons'. Just speculation but even though he may not have "heard" your words he was among family. I am sure that was a great comfort. Your gift of the coffee mug I seriously doubt made those bad memories he may have had or is going to have any worse. He is just another casualty of war that is not included in the statistics.He is however to be honored for his sacrifices...……...
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Old 12-28-2019, 02:33 PM
 
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Very worthy post! I remember being very curious about my Grandfather's part in WWII but noticing that he did not really like to talk much about it. Thankfully our family never really pressed it much. I think we are only thinking of the just and honorable acts but even though that may be the case it is not easy to take lives even under such circumstances and this can really scar people all their life. My Grandfather just recently died this year nearly 102 years old. Miss him!

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12-28-2019, 04:43 PM
 
Location: San Diego CA
5,714 posts, read 3,751,289 times
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The emotional and physical scars never go away for those who defend us against our enemies. Hopefully people will never forget the incredible sacrifice our American service men and women make while we sleep peacefully in our homes far away and safe from the battlefields.
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Old 12-29-2019, 06:42 PM
Status: "wishy-washy liberal" (set 7 days ago)
 
1,461 posts, read 389,791 times
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my father was at pearl harbor during the attack..as a little boy i would ask and he would say nothing (would not watch any war films) as i grew older he would tell me brief things about how they were terrified for a few weeks of a Japanese landing force and shot at anything that moved...he would mention that they friendly fire damage to Honolulu was down played


my father had reoccurring nightmares the rest of his life to some degree..and we just never talked about the war...
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Old 12-29-2019, 08:19 PM
 
9,695 posts, read 9,688,259 times
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Veterans pay an enormous personal price serving their country. The cost cannot simply be measured in terms of lives lost or the number of amputees.

I thank your father for his service.
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Old 12-30-2019, 09:20 PM
 
Location: Howard County, Maryland
6,173 posts, read 3,968,996 times
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OP, I hope you won't beat yourself up about this. Your grandfather knows that you are interested in the history of the Korean War, because you've discussed it with him before, and I would assume that he didn't tell you to not talk about it at that time. And of course you had no way of knowing what had gone on earlier that day, before you gave him the mug.

It's possible that he'll toss the mug in the trash and never think about it again. But it's also possible that he has somewhat fond memories of the B-26, the plane that always got him back to his base after every mission. So he may well choose to use your mug regularly and enjoy looking at it.

Logically speaking, it's no worse to kill someone on Christmas Day than it is to kill them in April, or July, or October. But traumatic memories have a "logic" of their own, so there's no point in belaboring the point.

And for what it's worth, I learned something from your post. I've always known the B-26 as the Marauder, a twin-engine bomber that saw service in World War II. I never knew that the A-26 Invader was later re-designated as the B-26.
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