I hope everyone enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend. The weather seemed like it somewhat cooperated this year. I wrote about Memorial Day last week. This week is about those Veterans that should not have survived, but did. Some survivors did extraordinary things and some crashed hard. Sometimes it’s the trauma or violence of an act that gives us focus for the rest of our lives. Whether it motivates us to do well or consumes us with self-destruction. We all have some trauma in our lives. Where we pivot on the event is up to us.
Alvin York- He faced jail time being denied conscientious observer status. He relented after discussing beliefs with a religious commander and personal soul searching. He won the Medal of Honor. He singlehandedly captured 132 Germans, a couple dozen machine guns and killed many enemies.
After the service using his fame he established a religious school to educate youth in his isolated mountain community. He established a trade school as well as a few other schools. He would tirelessly raise funds for these institutions even after politics drove him out of these schools. Many of his kids and grandchildren have served and continue to serve the country, thanks to his post service focus.
Charles W. Whittlesey- He was an unassuming hero. A Harvard educated lawyer. Commander of the “lost battalion.” The lost battalion set off on an offensive operation in WW1, they were separated from friendly forces and isolated for days. The Germans attacked with everything they had, and the lost battalion held. Whittlesey was credited with defense for his cool under fire. Over 600 men departed and less than 194 returned. He was one of the first Medal of Honor recipients in WW1. He and Alvin York both commemorated the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He was haunted by his days in the woods and the lives lost. Furthering his anguish is the tales of woe from those he served with. He disappeared on a ship voyage from New York to Havana in 1921. It is presumed he threw himself overboard. Many letters to relatives and friends were found in his cabin.
Audie Murphy- Murphy deserves a column all to himself. A true American hero that crossed lines into positivity and self destruction. He was rejected for military service. That is until his sister helped him falsify his age and after he power ate his 5’5” frame over 112lbs. As one of the most highly decorated soldiers of all time he repelled repeated attacks while injured and led a counter attack. After the war he lept into a successful acting career. He became a prominent horse breeding magnate which established equine programs to help many. He also carved a trench of self-destruction. He spoke openly about his nightmares, sleepless nights, drinking and sleeping with a pistol. Today he would’ve been diagnosed with PTSD.
Remember, ultimately you pilot your own ship.
Still looking for submissions for good and bad Veteran programs.
To submit a Veteran of the week or story idea hit me up at email@example.com