Category Archives: Veterans Day

WW II Soldier About Brothers: ‘We All Came Home Alive!’

On Veterans Day, I have the opportunity to share some of my father’s reflections about his personal experiences during World War II with my readers. This opportunity came about eight years ago as a result of a school project undertaken by Mykaela, a then-12-year-old school girl from Kentucky.

This image is one my dad, in uniform, sent home to my mom. Location? Unknown.

This image is one my dad, in uniform, sent home to my mom. Location? Unknown.

Mykaela contacted me after reading several posts — no longer online — about my father’s experiences as a soldier serving in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. She had an assignment to interview a World War II veteran, but didn’t know any, so contacted me. After exchanging e-mails, we arranged for my father, now living in Texas, to answer her questions about World War II. Those answers appear below:

Q1: Where were you when you first heard about Pearl Harbor?

A1: I was a senior in high school and was living with my parents. We did not subscribe to a newspaper but got our news from a tabletop radio. I remember (the news) came as a “news flash”. “Japan has attacked Pearl Harbor. We do not have the details yet but will give them to you as soon a they become available” Later, the president, Mr. Roosevelt, came on the radio with an address to the nation. In his address, he came forth with the words that everyone has heard over and over by now: “This day, the 7th day of December, 1941, will go down in history as a day of infamy etc…”

Q2: What were your feelings?

A2: I was a boy of 17 years of age. My feelings were of both fear and excitement. The fear of the unknown future. The excitement of the anticipation for whatever was going to happen. At age 17, one does not comprehend all of the future events that could come and many more that would come with a declaration of war. There was also the feeling of anger at what the Japanese did to our military men in Hawaii.

The Fighting Sullivans shared a lot in common with my dad and his brothers.

Click on image above to read about what “The Fighting Sullivans” shared in common with my dad and his brothers.

Q3: Did you see any signs of fear, anger or rage?

A3: There was the feeling in the community of being double-crossed, violated, tricked, and lastly, of anger at the enemy for their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Many Americans boys were killed by that attack while the Japanese diplomats were smiling in Washington, D.C., and pretending all was going well within the Japanese-American diplomatic relations. As the people took the time to digest what had happened, they did become more angry and wanted revenge.

Q4: What did people so during the next few days?

A4: During the days that followed the attack, I think the people began to realize that this was not just a news item. It was real. Parents of sailors killed at Pearl Harbor began to receive telegrams from the Defense Department saying, “We regret to inform you that your son, (John or Robert or Harold or ??) was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. His remains will be shipped to you etc…”

Q5: How was life different during the war?

A5: Soon after the attack, material things in civilian life were much the same, but it was not long before many items were available only in small quantities. A few months later, gasoline, coffee, cigarettes, sugar and most anything else was rationed. People stayed home, launched paper drives, metal drives and did anything else to help make the tools of war. A young man who was not in uniform came under close scrutiny by his neighbors and the local draft board. This group of people decided who was going to be drafted next.

Q6: What items were the hardest to get for your family?

A6: Sugar and coffee for the table along with gasoline and tires for the car. These were items that I remember my parents said were very hard to come by.

Q7: What slogans and patriotic posters were being shown?

A7: On posters: “A slip of the lips may sink a ship.” “Uncle Sam wants you” which had a picture of Uncle Sam pointing directly at you. “Buy Bonds”.

Vmail Ltr

Click on image above to read about a VMAIL letter my dad sent home while serving in the Army during World War II.

Q8: Describe V-E (Victory in Europe) day and V-J (Victory in Japan) day. Where were you then?

A8: I was in a convalescent camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., on V-E day and at my parents’ home on V-J day. There was intense excitement, especially on V-J. day. After V-E day, people were worried that soldiers who had been in Europe would have to go to invade Japan. This worried the soldiers as much as, or more than, civilians. With V-J day, they were relieved of that worry. Now they were ready for their sons, daughters, husbands, sweethearts all to come back home so they could take vacations, go on picnics, etc.

Q9: How did the people feel about the atomic bomb?

A9: The American public was tired of their boys being killed fighting the Japanese who were fanatics. They would not surrender but would kill themselves first. This was a part of their religion. The bomb was dropped on Hiroshima first. The Japanese government would not surrender, so a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki a week later. “If the bomb would stop the war, then drop it” was the feeling in the U. S. It was anticipated two million of their soldiers and civilians and one million of our soldiers would have perished in an invasion of Japan. After all, it was they who started the war, it was they who killed Chinese civilians as well as soldiers, it was they who marched captured American soldiers to prison camps but provided no food or water for them on that march, and it was they who killed the prisoners who could not keep up on that march.

Q10: What should an 8th grader remember about this war?

A10: I would say remember there are bad guys in this world who want to control the world and will do anything to do it. Sometimes we have to fight for freedom, but it is worth it!!

After providing Mykaela the answers above, my dad ended his response by noting what I suspect was a bittersweet feeling shared by many American members of what has come to be known as “The Greatest Generation”:

“I had three brothers in that war. We all came home alive!”

Having not been born yet, I’m very glad they did!

Show your support and help keep these articles coming by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same. To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Help Find World War II Hero by Veterans Day

While doing some legal gun trading two years ago this week, I struck up a conversation with Greg Grimes, co-owner of Trail Creek Trade Co. Today, I want to share what happened during that visit and ask once again for your help as we try to complete a special mission by Veterans Day.

Do you know the name of the American World War II Soldier shown in this sketch drawn by one of the German prisoners of war for whom he was responsible? If so, contact me.

Do you know the name of the American World War II Soldier shown in this sketch drawn by one of the German prisoners of war for whom he was responsible? If so, contact me.

After negotiating the terms of a transaction involving two very old handguns, Grimes began to lament the declining interest many Americans have in guns as well as in history in general. A few anecdotes later, he directed my attention to a black-framed portrait of an American Soldier hanging on the wall and an associate of his lifted it off the wall and brought it over. That’s when the visit I had expected to last about 15 minutes turned into a 45-minute stay as I listened to Grimes tell me about a work of art adorning the wall of his antique firearms shop in the St. Louis suburb of St. Ann.

Grimes explained that he had acquired the framed artwork from a friend who had rescued it from a pile of things bound for a dumpster and then held on to it for a decade before transferring ownership to him.  Since then, it has hung on the wall behind the counter near the back of the gun shop.

In addition to the fact the pencil sketch features an American Soldier, several other aspects of the piece make it special:

• It appears to have been drawn and signed by one of the German POWs for whom the Soldier was responsible;

• It features an honorable message (i.e., “In memory of your prisoners of war”) between one-time adversaries in a horrific war;

• It bears a date, 2 June 1945, that came only 25 days after the date on which hostilities in Europe came to an official end (i.e., “V-E Day” or “Victory in Europe Day”); and

• Finally, the back side of the portrait bears what appears to be the signatures of a total of eight German POWs, one of which matches the signature of the artist on the front.

I asked Grimes if he had ever tried to locate any of the people whose names appear on the piece, front and back.  He said he had, but without success. That’s when I told him I would take photos of the piece and share details about it with my online readers, my contacts in the traditional and non-traditional news media worldwide and with my friends in patriotic and veterans organizations.

Off and on for two years, I’ve tried to stir up interest in locating the man in the portrait but have received not even a nibble. While the two-year-old video above mentions as a goal getting the portrait into the right hands by the 70th anniversary of the date shown — 2 June 1945 — next to the inscription, our goal remains: We want to see the portrait returned to the man portrayed in the sketch or to a member of his extended family.

To accomplish this goal, we need your help. If you recognize him, please send details to me via email at BobMcCartyWrites (at) gmail (dot) com or leave a comment below.  If you don’t recognize him but still want to help, share this article with everyone you know.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Show your support and help keep these articles coming by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same. To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Story of Four Not-So-Famous Brothers Inspires

One of the most popular stories about members of the “Greatest Generation” is that of “The Fighting Sullivans,” five brothers who who died aboard the U.S.S. Juneau during the Battle of Guadalcanal.  That story is heroic, in part, because it has to do with men who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country during World War II.

The Fighting Sullivans shared a lot in common with my dad and his brothers.

The Fighting Sullivans shared a lot in common with my dad and his brothers.

Whenever I hear talk about the Sullivans, however, I can’t help but think of four not-so-famous Iowa brothers — Max, Verle, Guy and Ted — who also answered their nation’s call.  Like many thousands of others, they set aside any personal plans they had for a while and went into harm’s way to fight for freedom.

Max, the oldest, was among the first to be drafted into the Army.  Next in line, Verle went to the Navy.  Guy followed, donning Army green. By March 1943, only the youngest son remained at home.  That fact prompted a conversation to take place between Ted, the youngest brother at 19, and his father.

“Ted, do you want me to declare you essential to my farm work?” his dad asked, knowing that one son from each farm family could be deferred from entering service if he was needed to work on the farm.

Ted took little time to answer.

“No.  If my brothers can go into the service, then I feel that I should go also,” he said, adding, “Besides, I want to do my part in the war” and “Dad, you really don’t need me.”

It wasn’t long before Ted was drafted and assigned to the Army’s 406th Regiment of the 102nd Infantry Division at Camp Swift near Austin, Texas.

Though I don’t have many details about the service records of the three oldest brothers, I do know that two of them — and their brother Ted — saw front line combat action. In addition, I know that all four brothers came home alive.

This story is important to me, because I knew all of the men in this story. The three oldest brothers were my uncles, and the youngest was — and still is — my dad. Together, I suppose, they could have been known as The Fighting McCarty Brothers.

After the war, Max and Verle went on to own and operate a successful water well drilling company in Promise City, Iowa.  Guy went to work for the federal government, playing an important role in the effort to harness atomic energy.  My dad became a petroleum geologist, active in oil and natural gas exploration and development in Oklahoma for several decades.

Today, my 90-year-old dad is the only McCarty brother left to talk about the “last great war.” On Veterans Day, I salute him and all who’ve served.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

V-MAIL: World War II Soldier Writes to Parents Back Home

EDITOR’S NOTE: On this Veterans Day weekend, I share a post about someone special in my life.

Before there was e-mail, Twitter, Facebook or any of myriad ways for American Soldiers to communicate with loved ones back home, there was V-MAIL.  Below is the text of a V-Mail (a.k.a., “Victory Mail”) message dated Oct. 10, 1944.  Written by a 20-year-old Army private serving on the the front lines of war in Northwestern Germany during World War II, it carried thoughtful messages as it was delivered to his parents in Promise City, Iowa:

Vmail-Exterior-300x232Dear Dad + Mom,

I just finished a couple letters so I think I’ll write a few lines to you.  The sky is very clear tonight and it is turning awfully chilly.  By morning it will be very nippy I imagine.  My socks are a little damp so I am going to put on a dry pair before going to bed.  Between the bumps, cold + my rifle in bed with me to keep it dry, I admit I have had more comfortable beds.  We’re supposed to get two more blankets soon so it will improve the situation a lot.  I hope.  I got three letters today.  They started with the eighteenth, the first mail I got + have been going backwards.  Today they dated back to the 11th of Sept.  I heard you weren’t feeling so good about that time.  I hope you are much better now, mom.  You should take your regular vacation in Florida again this winter.  Right?  Well it’s time to put the cat out and wind the clock for tonight.  Goodnite.

Your loving son, Ted

Vmail-Ltr-300x291

The American Soldier who wrote the letter above was my dad, and he’s still ticking today in his ninth decade of life. Thanks for serving, dad.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.