Saturday, April 22, 2006

A little family history


For a long time I always wondered what my father did in WWII because he never really talked about it much. I knew he was a tanker in Europe, but that's about it. I didn't understand until later, when I myself became a veteran, that most soldiers who've seen combat don't really want to talk about it much. There's a lot of things I still don't like talking about and probably never will.
In the words of an unknown Civil War soldier coming home said; "I have seen the elephant, and I am forever changed..."
So I do understand why my dad never talked about it. I have seen the elephant too and it has changed me also. I'm not the same person who left his neighborhood in Philadelphia in 1983 and I'm sure my father was never the same kid who left Philly in 1943...
But me being a ardent history buff, especially the World War Two era I was curious. Since my father died in 1992 it was a little hard finding out certain information, but dug I did for he raised (and the Rangers tempered) this guy into one tenacious fuck. I don't give up when I set my sights on something. Using his discharge paperwork I found what unit he was in and then pieces began to slowly fall into place.
The top photo is a M-10 Wolverine Tank Destroyer like the one my father was a gunner on. The lower photo is of his unit patch, a leopard with a German Panzer in it's teeth with the motto "Seek, Strike, Destroy".
My father served from 1943 to 1945 in Texas, Oklahoma, England, France and Germany. I'm very proud of what my father did, for he was a true example of what Tom Brokaw called "The Greatest Generation".
If you care to, please feel free to read the complete combat after-action history of my father's unit, "C" Company, 824th Tank Destroyer Battalion.
Go here:
Even though you've been gone these long years dad, I'm proud of you.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

11 comments:

Sherri said...

Thanks for sharing. That was quite the article, he deserves the praise.

Red said...

Very cool...

Thank you both for your service to this country!!

phlegmfatale said...

Wow, I'm proud of him too, and I'm proud of you. Thanks for serving this country so bravely, both of you.

Miss Fire said...

Neato. Thank you both for doing what most of us don't have the courage to do.

Okie said...

My grandfather served in the Navy in WWII so I love to watch the Hitler channel when they cover the war in the Pacific.

cmk said...

My hubby served in a non-combat area during the Vietnam war. Can't put into words how proud I am of him--and every other person who has, and is, serving in the military. If not for them, we would not be the great country we are. Also, thanks go out to all of the extended family members of our service people--they also are heroes for the sacrifices they make. (And it is a BIG sacrifice to see your loved one go off to serve their country--war or not.)

Ranger Tom said...

Sherri: I thought so too. I'll post more when I find out more.

Red: You're welcome. We both were only doing what we thought was the right thing to do, giving a little back to a country that has given us so much.

Phlegmfatale & Miss Fire: I'm not sure bravery has anything to do with it, just doing the right thing. Thanks.

Okie: It does give that impression some times, doesn't it? My GRANDFATHER, (not great-grandfather...) was in the Navy during the Spanish~American war. Someday I'll do some reseach on him too.

Cmk: Sometimes the rear-echelon guys get a raw deal over the combat-arms guys. No matter what job one had in the military, it's important. Thank him for me for his service.

Jay said...

It must be strange to learn things so much after the fact, and connect the dots inside your head.

Bev said...

I've heard most vets don't like discussing what they've seen. Makes me wonder what was so bad.

Crazy Me said...

I found out when Pearl Harbor, the movie, was released that my great-great grandfather was one of the radar operating guys that sounded the alert when planes were spotted coming in but was told the planes were ours from the mainland. If you watch the extra features, they talk about how he could have been the "Paul Revere" that averted the catastrophe if he had been listened to.

One of my brothers is a Navy guy serving in the gulf right now and another one is hoping to go to Annapolis. My stepfather was a Marine that served in Vietnam and my boy is ex-Navy. I have much, much respect for our fantastic military families and those who choose to serve. It takes a pretty amazing person to make the sacrifices that the military calls for. My hat goes off to you and your family!

Romancing Simplicity said...

This reminds me of my grandfather and great-grandfather serving in wars. Somehow, my dad's generation got lucky and missed the cut-off by a couple years. And somehow my generation and the generation below me have too - for the most part.

I never really knew my great-grandfather as he passed away when I was a little kid, but I do remember that he used to savor every bit and we weren't allowed to get up from the table until he was done. It felt like we were squirming there for hours. And if we squired too much, he'd jab us with his fork and remind us that he fought for our freedom and the least we could do is let him enjoy a good meal. He didn't have that for years, and damn if he wasn't going to enjoy it.

My grandfather never said anything about it. After he died, we got all of his journals and this is where your quote REALLY reminds me of him. I guess you could say that there was very little where you would expect there to be quite a bit. It wasn't until a year or two after his death that we found out (through some letters someone inherited but hadn't had the heart to go through at the time) just how much he'd gone through during the war. And that was just scratching the surface.

I'm really proud of every individual who ever served our country in it's hour of need. Thank you very much for what you did - for those at the time, for those today, and for those to come. I'm sorry that you had to see that elephant, but I'm very glad that you did. And that you lived to tell whatever of it you ever do.