Thursday, June 2, 2011

Memorial Day - redux

This is a moving piece from WSJ. I used to spend a lot of time talking to WWII, Korean and Viet Nam veterans. I came away with myriad observations from these conversations, but I will share one. Combat is the most traumatic of all human experiences, I believe. I have no personal experience of this, but I have observed the effects in veterans. Even 60+ years removed from the event, I have seen men break down sobbing as they recalled the death of a comrade or some other event as if it happened only yesterday. That is one of the most humbling experiences I have ever been in, to be in the presence of these men as they deal with the trauma that it seems will never go away. Only the Cross can heal these types of unseen wounds ...


"Bob Hagen knew the worst of battle while serving on destroyers in the Pacific during World War II. He saw action at Guadalcanal. He was the gunnery officer on the USS Johnston when it was hit hard in the Battle Off Samar near the Philippines on October 25, 1944. For two hours he directed the ship's main guns, firing gamely at an overwhelming enemy. A Japanese shell turned two officers standing on the flying bridge, 10 feet below his station, into a pink mist. When the order to abandon ship came across, Hagen found himself floating in shark-infested waters watching the Johnston sink. His best friend, the ship's doctor, Robert Browne, was still aboard, refusing to seek safety until all the wounded had been evacuated. Hagen saw Browne re-entering the wardroom when a large shell from a Japanese warship followed him inside. At that moment, the war crystallized as a hard-to-discuss horror."

Read the rest.

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