Open Your Eyes

GI Joe and John Wayne, be damned.

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of Facebook posts popping up with snippets and photos about soldiers who died in World War II and I am dumbstruck to be reminded that they were all so young and I believe anyone under 20 years old is young. Anyone under 50 is young in my old book, under 20 is a baby.

I know that governments have always fed their youngest into the battle threshers as fodder because their young minds are the easiest to brainwash about the righteousness of their cause. As adults, parents, we should know better but instead we learn to accept the fact that our children may have to die in war fighting with other children. Madness. Take a deep look into the eyes of the young smiling soldiers, many seemingly too young to shave, before they have met their fates and you cannot do anything but cry for their souls and curse the absurdity of war and see the blood of our own collective irresponsibility.

One post shows Wilson Watson, a 20-year-old farmer from Arkansas, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1942. Watson landed on Iwo Jima with the 3rd Marine Division and a week later, his squad got pinned down by fire from a Japanese pillbox. Watson stormed the Japaneses fortification, killing 60 soldiers until his platoon caught up with him. He survived and was awarded the Medal of Honor but what became of Watson, how did he endure the emotional, psychological and physical wounds of war? One minute Watson was cutting hay and the next he was taking the lives of Japanese soldiers. It is unfathomable.

Private Adam H. Davis of Philadelphia and T/5 Milford A. Sillars of Mooresville, Ind., both fought with Col. Hurley Fuller’s 110th Regiment of “Dutch” Cota’s 28th infantry, “Bloody Bucket Division.” Davis and Sillars are shown in a photo from Dec. 19, 1949, in Bastogne, Belgium, where the division had been in continuous action after escaping from Clervaux and fighting their way back, with the Germans nipping at their heels.Their job was to repulse Germans along the perimeter of the brigade. There was no mention of the fates of either soldier and we are left to imagine if their brief lives were taken or if they survived, with nightmarish memories of friends who had been slaughtered on the battlefield.

A photo from 1944 shows Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) Ruth Dailey with her P-38 Lightning. Dailey was among more than 1,100 WASPs who made test flights and supply runs to aid the war effort. Did the young Ruth Dailey have a mother and father back home or a fiancee or a best friend who mourned her death and cursed the circumstances? Did Ruth Daily survive and learn to cope with the nightmares of escaping death during a supply run?

There’s a note about the day in 1945 when the 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles” was inactivated following World War II service. Members of the 101st were awarded 13 Distinguished Unit Citations, three Medals of Honor, 456 Silver Stars, and nine, 488 Bronze Stars. How many died, it isn’t noted.

Another photo shows members of the 28th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron leading a column of American troops into Wiltz in Luxembourg, on Jan. 23, 1945. Would many of them make it back home with both of their arms and legs or would they simply be blasted out of existence by a single enemy bullet to the forehead?

A photo taken on July 31, 1917, near Pilckem, Belgium, shows British troops loading a pack horse with staples to serve the troops during the Battle of Pilckem Ridge. Many horses wore gas masks but were still killed by artillery fire, exhaustion, poison gas attacks, drowning or becoming hopelessly mired and slowly dying in shell holes in the mud.

Only about a third of the crew aboard the Australian ship Parramatta survived after the ship was escorting a convoy when it was hit by a torpedo on Nov. 27, 1941. The Parramatta was in the Mediterranean to supply the Allied garrison at Tobruk, which was under siege by German and Italian forces. There were 24 survivors, but 138 men, including all officers, lost their lives. The precious irreplaceable lives of 138 people were robbed.

Photos of young men and women slaughtered in wars should be posted on the walls of every home in every country and in every office of every politician around the world.



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