Monday, May 30, 2011

Re-Post Remembering My Grandaddy

I originally posted for Veterans Day many years ago. But I thought it was a fitting tribute today. While my Grandaddy survived his service in WWII, he had many scars from that service. I am thankful to him for the sacrifices he made to protect our country and get back home to his family and my mom :-). As a lover of the study of our nations history as well as our Christian History, I am also aware and thankful for those who sacrificed their lives and freedoms so that I can worship God in my church as well as live in freedom and without fear of oppression.

My Grandaddy Bunch served in WWII with the 457th Bomb Group that flew B-17's better known as Black Puff Polly. (Above is a picture of him in his flight suit. He is the man in the back on the left) Grandaddy was a bombardier. Many times he also served as a gunner in the glass "window" up top as well. When you could get him to talk about it he would tell stories of freezing as they reached the higher altitudes flying their missions. As most that served he didn't tell many stories connected to this time. It was too painful and horrific for him.

He was shot down over France on June 14th 1944 on a mission to Paris. Now in case you didn't know or remember, France at this point in the war was German occupied. So wherever you landed you were bound to run into the enemy.
I only know about these details because his squadron leader compiled a book back in 1991. (All of us Grand kids were given a copy). But I should say I heard stories of this time but only in brief snippets. Anyway, God certainly protected him as he floated to the ground in his parachute. A french family intercepted he and his pilot Lt Rogers. They also treated Granddaddy's ankle that was badly sprained when he landed. After many days they finally reached contacts in the French underground who gave them civilian clothes and papers. After almost 8 months of walking, passing through German checkpoints undetected and/or ignored, hiding out in barns and haylofts,they were finally rescued by men from General Patton's 5th army.
Ultimately they reached Eisenhower's headquarters where they were able to get cleaned up and get back to the states to be debriefed and reunited with loved ones. Imagine my grandmother who thought her husband was either dead or in a prison camp for over 8 months. She finally got a telegram saying he was rescued and was coming home for a brief leave.
In Grandaddy's things there is a copy of the telegrams that Grand mama received. He always liked to tell us gullible grand kids that he showered in Eisenhower's shower. ha! And we thought he was just pulling our leg. But no kidding. He really did that.
Another side story that Grandaddy told a brief account of was when they were trying to reach a safe house while on the run. One evening as it was growing dark, they decided they needed to find a place to sleep for the night. They walked up to a house that was about 100 yards from the road. When they reached the house they noticed the activity in the house and then one man came out dressed as a King as Grandaddy said and was dumping out dishwater. His pilot became anxious and said no Frenchmen dress like that. Thankfully he hesitated. They decided to try another house and so they walked another 100 yards to another home. This home looked safe and when they knocked on the door they were invited inside. When they were safely inside,the family told them how scared they were for them. They had noticed Grandaddy and Lt Rogers hiding in the bushes behind the house. They told them that this house was Gestapo headquarters!!!! WOW! Explained the fancy clothing. That family hid them in their barn until daybreak and they started walking again trying to find American soldiers or a French Underground connection.
There are many more stories of he and Lt. Rogers being discovered but the German soldiers were either in too much of a hurry or just didn't want to mess with only 2 suspicious men. Our family credits this as God's protection.

So I would like to say thank you to Grandaddy who is now in Heaven, to my Daddy, as well as several other family members, and to my friends that are currently serving all over the world: Raja, Mike R, Mike C, Owen, Franklin,Todd, Charlie, and a host of others and their families for protecting and fighting for our freedoms that we so take for granted.

As you gather around the dinner table this day remember to say a thank you prayer for for family,friends or those you don't know that are serving or have served in the Armed Forces. Also pray for the protection of those that currently serve as they continue to fight for our freedoms and other nations freedoms as well. And finally pray a prayer of thank you for those who died so we might enjoy the freedoms we do everyday.

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