Interview by Jonathan Thomas

Interviewee: Timothy Thomas about his father and my grandfather Griffith Edwards Thomas, 29th Marines

Q: How would he define war in terms of how my grandfather would define war?

A: He would have defined it as hell, it certainly was hell for him, and he would define it as what brings human being to their most base level, what brings them to the level of reacting on total animal instinct, survival.

Q: When you say the war was like hell for your father what were the main indications from spending time with him when you were younger would have told you that?

A: A lot of when I was young wouldn’t have told me it at all, part of being around my father was that you didn’t hear about it, he never let any of it out, how I knew about it was stories from other people. Shoot, even today if you talk to people that knew him one of the first thing out of their mouth is “Oh, he was a war hero, wasn’t he?’ But as a kid I didn’t find out anything about it. When he got older, when I got older, I learned some from him. He’s been gone 13 years, he’s been dead, and I’m just beginning to learn about these things now.

Q: Would you say his ideas of war changed over the years, let’s say if you heard about his thoughts of war beforehand, after or if his opinion changed years after the war?

A: I’m sure his opinions of war changed dramatically before he was ever in a war to after war, but after war there isn’t anything that changed ever about it. What he went through is probably as tough as any soldier has ever been through. It happened to me last memorial day, I was standing down at our office downtown looking out the window and there’s a Vietnam memorial there and the guys were all lined up and doing the memorial day thing and Bob Buchanan, one of my old bosses, was standing next to me and I said to him, I said, “You know there’s a lot of guys out there that probably fought as hard as my Dad did but there isn’t anybody who fought harder……….ever.”

Q: What would your Dad say, I know it was hard for him to communicate, but what would he want other people to know about war. What through his stories or what you’ve heard about him or say when Uncle Pete joined the marines did he ever want him to know anything about war or couldn’t he talk about it?

A: No, I’d say he never wanted anybody to know anything about war. Sometimes I wonder, when I was young some of my friends, you’d go over to their houses and they’d have war souvenirs and stuff around and kind of chatted up and a whole lot of bravado about their war experience and everything. That wasn’t what was in my Dad at all. It was obviously deep, dark, horrible and he didn’t want and didn’t think that anyone should ever know anything about it. Growing up when I was your age was during the Vietnam era and if we could stay out of that war stay out of it. If there’s any way to avoid it don’t do it.

Q: Do you think your father ever struggled with the ethical issues, you know, whether the war was just or not, kind of like “Is our reason for being here good” and “Should we be here fighting a war against the Nazis and the Japanese?,” or do you think he thought it was maybe it was wrong, what was his opinion on that?

A: No, no, I don’t think he had any of those kinds of problems. I think he knew absolutely that what they were doing was right and I don’t think he ever changed one whit about it. He felt the same way throughout his life that they should be there. I think part of that is why everything that happened in the whole experience was buried so deeply in him. These were guys, and I don’t even know whether it’s in this book (referring to Goodbye Darkness) or not but there was legislation to put the marines coming back from the south pacific in camps when they got back to reintroduce them to civilization……….I lost my train of thought.

Me: We were talking about whether he had questions about the war being just or the decisions made by “higher ups”, whether they were right or not, how much he questioned that or was that not really an issue.

A: Yeah, ok, and part of what was hard and why everything got buried so deep was because they went through this horrible horrible thing and when they came back they were heroes and it was like the opposite of what happened to a lot of the Vietnam vets, which wasn’t good either, but all these guys came back and it was like “Jeez, this is great, you guys won the war,” when it wasn’t great, and inside my Dad it wasn’t great at all. It wasn’t anything great about it. I often thought if I ever had the ability to write a book about it and about my Dad what I’d call it was Its Ok Dad, We Won the War, but it wasn’t ok, there wasn’t anything ok.

Q: So would you say that he knew why we were over there and that we had to be over there, but it was a horrible experience and that’s the end of the story. That it was hell, that it was necessary but it was like hell and he hopes it never happens again. Do you think there’s some closure to it there?

A: Well I think it was open ended for him and that it’s just what the human race does, you know, and maybe eventually something will happen that takes us past those kinds of solutions to things, but its just what we had to do and they went and did it. That doesn’t mean that there was anything good about it.

Q: I know, but for the sake of the interview, when your Dad went over seas where were the main three places that you know he was stationed.

A: It took a long time, and as you know its just been the last couple years that I’ve found an awful lot of these things out, part of it, I guess you could use quite a few places, I thought it was only three, I know the main three were Guadalcanal, Saipan and Okinawa. He was in the 29th marines.

Q: In the stories that you heard over the years from grandma and your brothers what did he remember about the places he was in, did he ever remember anything about the land or about people that he met of people that he fought with or that he fought against? Did he remember land that he was on and the people that were over there, did you hear anything about that?

A: I’m sure he did. I’m sure that there were very vivid memories. There’s, I think it’s Jimmy Falzone is a name mentioned here in the book, that’s a name that I heard when I was young. And there were little bits of stories about little places like a couple stories about being in Hawaii which is where he would have been in a hospital because he was wounded three times so he was in Hawaii twice recovering from the wounds. He never really talked specifically about places. Funny little things, one time he talked about when the Japanese trapped them. They’d taken the bark off the trees and slit the trees most of the way through and their patrol went beyond this point and the Japanese came and collapsed all the trees behind them and trapped them. But nothing real physical, and nothing real specific about anything physical about the places, nothing specific about any one of the enemy except for one Japanese guy, a prisoner that they took, and nothing real specific about the friends. That was sort of the lack of information was the overriding thing, and the lack of specifics about anybody. Most of the bits of stories that I heard when I was young were told from the point of view that I didn’t even know if he was there or not. He never even said “well I was here doing this or that,” he never really placed himself in, though I’ve learned now piecing stories together that some of them were specifically about him.

Q: Had he ever experienced combat, [that is yes right]?

A: That is all he experienced. There’s the statistics there in the marines, they lost eight out of ten guys, I’m not sure, I don’t know whether that’s any record, I mean you know, when you look at the losses of some of the other countries in WWII, I mean , the Russians and those guys, my God, but eight out of ten guys for the 29th marines, boy, all’s you’re in is combat.

Q: Can you remember any specific, any non-combat encounters that he might have had with the enemy?

A: Not with the enemy and it’s amazing the residue of and the depth of the hatred for the people that were the enemy that never left him.

Q: So would you say, obviously against Japanese people, there was years after coming back from the war a feeling of aggression or hatred towards those people?

A: My dad came down with Alzheimer’s in his early sixties and he blamed that on the Japanese.

Q: Really?

A: Yeah.

Q: So there’s no love lost there huh?

A: No, I mean he knew it was irrational, but it couldn’t go away.

Q: In some things we learned about in class, like in the Things they Carried, like the title of the book was the things they carried, the one guy Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried around a picture of a girl he had back home and he’d look at that picture every night and I know you mentioned a book that he had, do you think that was something like a reach to normality again, like something that reminded him of back home?

A: Absolutely. He was a college student when he left home and it was a book of literature and I’m sure, absolutely, I haven’t read them, there’s a whole series of letters that he wrote to your grandmother. He was married right before he went overseas. I’m sure, I’ve never seen it, that he had a picture her, she was a pretty woman in those days Johnny.

Q: Can you remember and specific combat experiences that you’ve heard probably according to Uncle Jeff or grandma that stood out in his mind, and memories of that sort?

A: He talked to Uncle Jeff more about it, my mother I think knows pretty specifically about a lot of things that happened to him in combat, I think a lot of it is just pieces of stuff, I don’t think he ever actually sat and told anyone on such and such a night me and these guys went up this hill and did this or that, I don’t think those kind of stories ever came out of my father, ever. I mean we pieced things together through this book and like I said, most of them have been disproved, but I kind of pieced together all these kind of stories that pieced parts together and made it into one story. But I never really knew any of the real ones and he never, ever did that, I don’t believe he could physically ever get through one, I don’t think he could physically complete the story. He would not be able to do it, he wouldn’t be able to get through it. Some memory, if it was bringing that up, any specific memory in there it would stop and he wouldn’t be able to continue.

Q: I know grandpa was injured, can you go over his main injuries during the war, his physical injuries that he had?

A: Your grandfather received three purple hearts, and he was wounded three times. On Guadalcanal he was blown up I guess, shrapnel wounds.

Q: From a grenade?

A: I don’t know whether it was from a grenade or whatever, I don’t know. The only way it was ever described to me was that that he was blown up. I know twenty years later every now and then a little piece of metal would come out of him, you know, fester and a little piece of shrapnel would come out, still. On, I believe it’s Saipan, Mount Tapacho, they were in the battle to take mount Tapacho and he didn’t make it up, his guys made it up, they took the hill but he was shot in the back of the head. Stuck his head up at the wrong time I suppose and got shot through the back part of the head, took a little chunk out of the back of his head. The third time was the most serious and then he was sent home, which he was in the south pacific somewhere close to 20 months to 2 years, something like that. The last time he was shot through the chest.

Q: Where was that?

A: That was at Okinawa. He was shot, basically he was shot in the heart. It just barely missed it. The stories you get, there’s lots of stories, God knows if they’re all true, supposedly the doctor afterwards explained that his heart must have been contracting when he was hit by the bullet otherwise it would have gone through, because the hole lined up, it should have taken a piece of his heart out and he would have bleed to death then, right away, but because his heart was contracting at the time it slipped right by. It went in the front and they took it out the back.

Q: Did that hit his lung?

A: Yeah, he lost the use of most of his left lung, very little lung capacity left there.

Q: Obviously after the physical injuries he did eventually recover, but did he have any long term handicaps from those wounds that he got during the war?

A: You know the man was an excellent athlete, physically, you know, he recovered, obviously he had some level of diminished lung capacity, but that really didn’t harm any activity he wanted to take part in. You know, it was just a lump out of his head, it didn’t cause any brain damage or something, so you know physically there weren’t a heck……. you know he did like have a big limp or anything like that from it so in that way he was very fortunate from some of the stories I heard now it’s fortunate that he was alive at all to walk around as a whole person, he was very very fortunate in that regard.

Q: Getting away from physical injuries, what would you say, obviously emotionally and psychologically like PTSD, what do you think were the symptoms that you noticed the years being with him and that you’ve heard about that he most exhibited?

A: Well, the main and overriding symptom was alcohol abuse. My dad never ever hurt or touched or physically abused any of us in any way at all, but he was, mainly for my brother Lou and I he just wasn’t there and it’s because….shoot…. the man consumed nearly a half gallon of scotch a day for 20 years and the thing that’s amazing was the man did that and went to work everyday. He was very much a functioning alcoholic with it. I think when my brother Pete was first born and he had just come back from the war, and Pete, he was born in ’46, maybe, you know, things were kind of hopeful, the war was over and he was a hero coming home from the war and he should have gone back to school but I think it was just some sort of petty activity after what he’d been through, I don’t think it could seem real.

Q: So he didn’t really have any desire to continue, because obviously he was at a good college, he was at Princeton right?

A: Yeah, he was at Princeton and yeah I think, I don’t think he could go back. My mother, you know they got married right before he went overseas, and she got married to and she’ll tell you right now when he came back it was a different person, it wasn’t who she married and I think as time went on and all during my whole childhood and during most of my brother Lou’s childhood, you know he just wasn’t there. Wasn’t there for any of the things you share and do with you family, the things you wanted from your dad I got form other people, and there were a lot of good father images around for me, so you know I was real lucky in that regard. There are a lot of people who kind of picked up the slack. There were people in my life that knew, in my life that knew what happened to my dad and they understood that and I think they very purposely picked up that slack because, my grandfather being one of those. My grandfather fought in WWI and he took care of my dad when he came back, when he got of the hospital after coming home I think he knew somebody was going to have to pick up some of the slack because he lost like a piece of himself.

Q: So basically what you’re saying after the war there was alcohol abuse and kind of removing himself from the normal family life?

A: Yeah, you know he was always kind of in a little bit of a race to get his old life back. His old life was good and he wanted to go back to it, he wanted to go back to it is what it was. He wanted it back and it always seemed that way, he was incredibly optimistic, he always thought it was going to come, I mean he kept on thinking that, but it really hampered what he was doing right now and he kind of escaped to those places where he was more comfortable, you know he grew up in a well-to-do family, Dad was at the country club drinking and playing golf, that’s where he was, you know, if he wasn’t there he’d play ball in the yard with my older brothers, by the time I was going to play ball he wasn’t there, he plain old wasn’t there. There were four of us you know, it was a pretty big family, I mean there was a little bit of stress involved in that too.

Q: So would you say between like right when he got back from the war and when uncle Pete was born and you and uncle Lou were kids and Jeff, there was a difference in how he expressed himself, he obviously with Uncle Jeff, later on after he stopped the alcohol abuse, but do you think from Uncle Pete to you there was a difference in how he acted?

A: I’m not sure it’s a complete difference in how he acted; I think it’s more of how he felt about things. I think he felt the same way, I think he was just further into just medicating himself, further into trying to not deal with it, I don’t think it was until after he quit drinking and he spent some time, and I think everybody has to do that, that’s what he didn’t do. When he came he was a hero and everything was “ok,” but everything wasn’t ok and it took him until he was my age, in his fifties that he could spend some time and actually go through a process of understanding what happened other than just sort of trying to suppress the demons. Forty years after that war the guy woke up screaming in the night regularly.

Q: Do you think from the war, obviously physically there was, how much of a process of healing do you think there was there, do you think there was any time after the war towards his later life, maybe in his fifties when he started to open up more to Uncle Jeff, did he start to heal and make decent progress on like, you know, those mental scares that he had or do you think that went mostly unresolved for the duration of his life?

A: Well it definitely went unresolved for the duration of his life because he got sick when he was sixty and he was dead at seventy and he had Alzheimer’s and most of his sixties he didn’t know what the heck was going on which is really kind of tragic when you think about it and until his early fifties when he quit drinking I really think it was an unproductive healing process, there was no real healing process, that process really didn’t happen until after that and I think it happened to a fairly good degree, I think he resolved some things and made good progress and we keep on talking about this book and I didn’t know until we got it back that he had written William Manchester a letter and that he returned the letter and I think in going through that exercise he really really made some progress, I do. Was everything healed? Well you go through 25 or more years of alcoholism, just battling the thing and then four or five years of a process of some healing, did it get where it should have, it devastated a huge part of his life and as a kid I just resented horribly who he was but as a kid you don’t understand what happens and what happened and now I understand what happened and that’s not something you get over and it wasn’t his fault and if I most regret (tape ended).

Q: Ok you were talking about the thing you most regret?

A: Yeah, if I regretted anything it’s, and kids….. you know you don’t understand, but that I didn’t understand what happened to the guy, I didn’t just give him more of a break when I was younger. He kind of cut off from us so the result of that is we cut off from him and, you know, your used to a pretty close family and you got to understand when I was seventeen and I left home, you know I came back for a week and went to college and came back for a week and then left again, it’s not as though I wasn’t in contact with them at all, but I mean, you know, months and months and months would go by and I didn’t even talk to my parents, then when I did I would just call and talk to my mom. It was, you know, part of that was the whole Vietnam era thing going on and all that kind of stuff but a lot of it was there just wasn’t anything to say there, and during that time when dad quit drinking and everything and came back home and spent some time things got ok, you know, it got mended, but a lot of it was just that I just didn’t really have a understanding of the magnitude of what happened to the man, this was really a horrible thing.

Q: When he came first came back from the war, I know you mentioned the legislation from the camps, was there a time there that he really needed to readjust?

A: Yeah sure, when he first came back to the U.S. he was in a hospital, I think it’s uh, oh what do you call it, the famous hospital, he notes it here in the book?

Q: The one his uncle was in charge of?

A: Yeah, ok. And of course there was he’d been shot through the chest and there was a lot of recovery there. I think what happened, and I mentioned my grandfather, my mother’s father, because his father was dead by this time, playing a part in helping him out and helping him readjust. Actually see, there again, dad had a way of, he always wanted to get be to the life of luxury that he left and you great grandfather provided that for him for a little bit, they lived in palm beach and as a wounded veteran still in uniform and coming back to this country, I mean jeez, these guys had just gone out and saved the world, and they had really, literally! He’d go to a place like palm beach, you know, if your at Breaker’s Hotel you don’t pay for anything, you know, if you want a drink there’s, you know…… you’re in the middle of some of the wealthiest people in the country and you just went out and fought to save their way of life for them, they’re pretty generous to you, and so there was a lot of that, but that didn’t do anything for what was going on in the head.

Q: So that was just on the surface, it didn’t get down addressing what really happened to him?

A: I’ve seen pictures of my dad not too long before he went to war and I’ve seen pictures of him afterwards and you could just see the difference. You could see it in his eyes. Anybody, I was around, I don’t know how people knew, you didn’t screw around with my dad, you didn’t want to, and you knew that. It’s not like he was a violent man or any of those kind of things, but people could tell something was going on there, it was easy to tell.

Q: Do you think that grandpa’s war experience was kind of like, let’s say, in a different area, but kind of like that portrayed in Saving Private Ryan or in Thin Red Line or, you know, like the big WWII movies? Do you think those war stories were on the same level as what he was experiencing there?

A: Well, you know, some of the movies and some of the……you mentioned Saving Private Ryan and those and I think movie makers who produce those kinds of movies get better and better at them if that’s good? I don’t think there is any way possibly to reproduce the level of fear and the level of what the mental process is of becoming that, that warrior in want of a better term. I don’t think you can do that. Saving Private Ryan, shoot, I watched it again not too long ago, there’s a couple stories in there that remind me of the things that I, through stories, find out happened to your grandfather. On being the one where they all want to kill the German and Upum says not to and that this isn’t right and the captain Tom Hanks releases the German and all the men are pissed off because he’s going to do it. I think I mentioned earlier the one Japanese man that my dad mentions. The Japanese did not become prisoners, the Japanese didn’t want to become prisoners and they didn’t for their own reasons, right, because they weren’t going to be taken prisoner, the other reason was we weren’t in the business of taking prisoners in that conflict down there, but they did, this one guy because I guess my little brother once mentioned to your grandfather about the height of the Japanese people being short and I guess my dad came back to him with they aren’t all. That lead into this story of the prisoner that they took who was pretty darn tall I guess and evidently, I don’t know whether your grandfather was a……….. he started the war as a second Lieutenant or a first Lieutenant, but there were several filed promotions, I think he was like a Captain, or something like that, those were other things you didn’t find out from him. He was in command and to protect the Japanese prisoner, my little brother describes it as a cage, but they put him in some kind of cage in the center of the camp and they put a light over him outside of his tent to keep him alive overnight so that they could turn him into…… whatever they did with prisoners, but it’s something where he had to go through this with his own men, threatening his own men to keep the prisoner alive, which that kind of gets into the moral thing of war………. you know, I mean you read in the book here of what went on, you’re talking about thousands and thousands of marines dying and one Japanese, he found a way to keep this guy alive…… it seems pointless but I guess somewhere in there you have to start finding you way back to civilized codes of behavior.

Q: Do you think, and this is more of a question for you and grandpa, that he thought about the war often or do you think it often?

A: I think he, obviously during his abuse of alcohol and period of his life what he was trying to do was think about it as little as possible. He never kept any mementos around, never wanted any of that kind of stuff around, we don’t even know where his purple hearts are, there is one around but…….  he just didn’t want the stuff around, I don’t believe he could stop thinking about it so I think it was somewhere behind all the time, but he was always trying to avoid it. Later when he did think about it and try and work through I think it was very helpful for him. When I was young, like I said, you were always aware of the fact that dad was a war hero, I guess, but other than that I never thought about it, tell you the truth in the past couple years I think about it more than I ever have, definitely more than when I was actually around him now and there’s a certain amount of guilt on my part that maybe I……. I wish I understood more about what was going on with him at the time so that maybe I could have offered something back to him. I kind of feel that I was being a little selfish.

Q: For a final question I know that when you and your brothers get together, like up at the island, this is a topic that comes up a lot, what mostly do you talk about in terms of grandpa and war and you and brother’s different experiences, what seems to mainly come out in these conversations?

A: It’s mainly happened in the last few years and its mainly happened a lot because I think we’ve discovered that my little brother has a much better insight into all of it than all the rest of have and he actually has specific facts and beyond his conversations with dad he also has dad’s trunk and he’s gone through letters, and I hope I get the chance to, which I will in getting this book back, and like I told you I’ve read this book before, but I didn’t, for some reason, I read it but I read it like I was reading a novel and reading through it, but there’s things in this book that are specifically about my father and somehow.

Q: At the time you read it you probably, for instance, didn’t realize that the one story was about your father.

A: It seems stupid now, how could I with the note inside there but at the time I couldn’t have, it was sort of reading it like the stories I heard all the time when I was a kid, you didn’t really put him personally, physically in any of those situations, but then there one, the story there, Sugar Loaf Hill, where he’s the last guys left and it’s him! 50 guys died there, 49 guys and he’s the one.

Q: And his friend?

A: Well, see, and I’d heard that story and the friend he drags back to the aid station, he’s dead when he get him there.

Q: So it’s mostly war stories you and your brothers talk about?

A: Yeah It’s that; it’s that and trying to get facts straight. The last time it happened, in the spring, we had a long long discussion with Jeffery and Jeffery was pretty upset and I think he’s real defensive with dad and he’s a little defensive when Lou and I say “Listen, we just don’t have that same feeling towards dad.” We have very different memories and very different feelings about who dad was and its hard for Jeffery to accept that from us though we’ve all, and certainly I have and I know Lou has, we’ve all started to learn about it and understand and just kind of forgive what went on and understand who he was and why he was that way, and for a long time I just thought he was that way because that’s the way he was and that’s the way he wanted to be, but its easy to not really realize what going through something like that does to you, this was. What he went through was as bad as it get and you deserve a break after that happens to you.

When I heard about the “Interview a War Veteran” project I immediately thought about my grandfather, my father’s father. Other members in my family have served in the armed forces and are still alive but they did not interest me nearly as much as my grandfather Thomas did. This was mostly because of the fact that I had always heard things about my grandfather’s war experience from my father and my uncles but I never actually got the whole story. After doing the interview I have found that no one really has the whole story and that my grandfather has left bits and pieces for his family to assemble and try to understand. The stories that I had heard were mixes of combat and what my grandmother had to deal with years later, especially after my grandfather had gotten sick in his sixties. I never knew my grandfather very well. I was about seven or eight when he died and I didn’t see him much before that and I certainly had no idea of what he had been through in WWII, but through this interview I feel that I have at least a little better of an understanding of my grandfather’s war experience and my father’s experience dealing with the results of it.

The stories that I’ve heard about my grandfather’s war experiences seem to go along with our readings in class but they don’t remind me of any specific one. The story goes that my grandfather was a college student, a sophomore at Princeton, when he got drafted and opted to join the marines instead. After spending almost two years overseas he returned with physical and psychological scars that never healed and affected his entire family, in particular my father. In the war stories we’ve read, like The Things They Carried and Slaughterhouse Five and articles like The Price of Valor, the theme of post traumatic stress disorder and its symptoms always came up.

During the discussions of Slaughterhouse Five we brought up the possibility that he created this fictional world for himself to help him deal with what happened to him in the war. In both The Things They Carried and The Price of Valor the symptoms of PTSD are very clearly outlined. In the things they carried they talked about some of the soldier’s memories of people dying, like Lemon getting blown up when he stepped on the mine and flew into the tree, and how the other man singing Lemon Tree was the memory that stuck. I saw a connection in what people tend to remember and how those memories can lead to others. In this case in the book the song Lemon Tree led to the memory of Lemon getting blown up and O’Brien has to clean him out of the tree. This reminded me of the story about when my uncle Jeff mentioned something about Japanese people being short and that bringing up the memory of the prisoner of war that they took. One thing that was made clear to me in the interview was that my grandfather did not openly talk about his war experiences, but that this triggered one experience to come out.

In The Things They Carried the chapter about Norman Bowker, after he is home from the war, driving around a local lake parallels my grandfather’s situation is some ways. In this chapter it is made clear that he wants to tell his story to someone but never does, which means he never goes through that process of healing and he kills himself because of it. My grandfather never talked about his experiences in war and he also paid for it. I think when my uncle brought up Japanese people being short the grandfather took advantage of the opportunity to get that one experience out in the open. This happened during the time when my grandfather had stopped his alcohol abuse and started opening up a little more which did help him. That brings up another symptom my grandfather had after returning from the war, which was alcohol abuse. In The Price of Valor the Afghanistan war veteran had an episode when he was drunk and lost control at a bar and started yelling at the DJ. This sort of thing never, to my knowledge, happened with my grandfather, but turning to alcohol, among other things, is a way that my grandfather and people in some of these stories tried to avoid dealing with their problems. Also in this story the man’s wife had to deal with a changed person, exactly what my grandmother had to deal with. In my father’s words, “she’ll tell you right now the man who came back was not the man she married.” My grandmother had to deal with my grandfather on a regular basis waking up in the night screaming and would have to wake him up with a broom handle to avoid being hurt.

In most aspects my grandfather’s war stories seem to be an extreme example of a man who was constantly in combat during the war and is mentally scarred for the rest of his life from it. There was a healing process for a small amount of time but even when he got sick he blamed it on the Japanese, showing that the healing process was very limited and not near complete. It is a very tragic story about a man who had a good life that got ruined by war and being in denial about it for many years. That was one of the main feelings I got from hearing about how he dealt with it and always sought to gain his old life back, which was that he was holding onto a dream, he was in denial. The fact that my grandfather did not have any problems with his commanding officers or the righteousness of the war didn’t seem to go along with the general trend of the war stories we have reviewed in class. It seemed that most of the stories were anti-war and were very critical of the reasons for the wars. In my grandfather’s case there did not seem to be any of those feelings. As it was expressed in the interview war was hell for him and he wished no one would ever know anything about it, but he never explicitly said that possibly due to the fact that he knew war was inevitable and someone had to fight, I think he just hoped it wasn’t anyone else in his family.

In most aspects my grandfather’s war stories seem to be an extreme example of a man who was constantly in combat during the war and is mentally scarred for the rest of his life from it. There was a healing process for a small amount of time but even when he got sick he blamed it on the Japanese, showing that the healing process was very limited and not near complete. It is a very tragic story about a man who had a good life that got ruined by war and being in denial about it for many years. That was one of the main feelings I got from hearing about how he dealt with it and always sought to gain his old life back, which was that he was holding onto a dream, he was in denial. The fact that my grandfather did not have any problems with his commanding officers or the righteousness of the war didn’t seem to go along with the general trend of the war stories we have reviewed in class. It seemed that most of the stories were anti-war and were very critical of the reasons for the wars. In my grandfather’s case there did not seem to be any of those feelings. As it was expressed in the interview war was hell for him and he wished no one would ever know anything about it, but he never explicitly said that possibly due to the fact that he knew war was inevitable and someone had to fight, I think he just hoped it wasn’t anyone else in his family.

In my opinion the stories that I most need to tell are those about how the war affected my grandfather. He removed himself from his family for a long time and turned to alcohol abuse to try and deal with his problems. Years and years after he returned he would wake up screaming, and as my dad described it sounded unreal, it was like a child with an almost animalistic quality to it. He lived out his entire life with thoughts about the war in the back of his head, always looming there. My father said he felt guilty about not understanding what had happened to his father when he was younger and now I feel guilty for not even knowing about the environment my father grew up in. Going to war and joining the armed forces is very unpredictable. A person could never see combat and come out fine, but there is also the possibility of having your entire life destroyed even if you are lucky enough to live through it. When I read the passage from my grandfather’s book about Sugar Loaf Hill I realized I had no idea what that could have been like and I was filled with awe that anyone could live on after that and actually function. These stories are important to tell because knowledge is required for understanding. If people don’t have the knowledge of what can and does happen in war when others return from new wars they can be misunderstood and having the regret that my father does of not giving my grandfather more of a chance when he was younger is a horrible thing to live with. People owe veterans, at the very least, an attempt at understanding and respect for what they have sacrificed to fight.