Tag Archives: Korean War

What Is On My Mind Today? Memorial Day and Cupcakes

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I was watching the news this weekend and there was a segment where a baker was demonstrating how to decorate cakes.  At the end of her demonstration, she showed off cupcakes that she had decorated especially for Memorial Day.  They were bright red, white and aqua blue.  Then, with chipper voice she joyously explained that the cupcake icing design resembled fireworks.

Memorial Day is not a day to hold celebrations, in truth, it is a yearly national funeral for our military dead.  It is a day of remembrance….of loss…not victory, freedom or national pride.  It is the day to think about all of those young men and women whose lives were cut short and whose beautiful bodies were torn, mutilated and so grievousness wounded that they could not survive their injuries.  Their trauma and deaths were horrific.

I have been reading the book, “Unbroken”.   This book is about World War II soldier Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner, who spent much of World War II as a Japanese Prisoner of War after his plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean.  The brutality of his war experiences are so vividly described as to, at times, seem to be frankly unbelievable.

I do believe them, because I have had the privilege of knowing many veterans both personally and professionally and their stories were oftentimes very similar to Mr. Zamperini’s.

For instance, take my friend El.  Now in his nineties, he is the last man left on this side of the turf from his army unit.  I first met El on a World War II Honorflight.  I was his caregiver and he was one of my folks.

That day as we chatted together, he mentioned that he had once been a Japanese prisoner of war for four hours.  I chuckled and said that nobody was a Japanese prisoner of war for a couple of hours, how did he manage that?

He then told me how this happened. His platoon had been ambushed, all of them were killed outright or wounded.  For the next several hours Japanese soldiers walked among those American boys, stabbing them with their bayonets to see if anyone was left alive. Any groan that was heard, was quickly followed by a gun shot. El always says the same thing, “Thank, God, I fell on my stomach and that my eyelids never fluttered.”

Then, there was Sid Schmuckler.  What a great name! Sid was quite a guy, at over 90 years of age, he still worked every day and drove himself to his office on Minnesota’s freeways in his station wagon.  Sid was a navy man and fought in the Pacific. He was a beach commander.

The night before an invasion was launched, he would go ashore to scout the position and help radio our soldiers ashore.  He was a beach commander on Iwo Jima and was in a few other very notable battles.

Sid could tell me about boys, who were just his age, that he had seen blown to bits just as matter of fact as if he was describing restaurant menu.  He did have this sad chuckle about the ironies of war that he had witnessed.

He once told me about this chaplain that was walking right down the beach on Iwo Jima as it was being heavily shelled and under constant fire by the enemy.  From behind their fortified breastworks, he and the soldiers with him screamed at the chaplain to get down!  The chaplain, as calm as if he was taking a Sunday stroll, just kept walking down that bomb pocked beach, stopping to check on each wounded, dying or dead soldier in his path.

As they were yelling at the chaplain, the boy next to Sid took a bullet to the head.  Still alive, it was immediately determined that his wound was mortal.  When the chaplain was much closer to Sid, he was grabbed and thrown behind the breastworks. Sid pointed at the young dying soldier and asked the chaplain, to give the Catholic boy last rites.

The chaplain quickly went about his business.  Just as he concluded, the young soldier breathed his last. As he closed the boy’s eyes the chaplain said, “I hope his Catholic mama never learns that a Ra bi administered her son’s last rites.”  Before anyone could detain him, the chaplain quickly leaped from relative safety of the breastworks and continued his mission of mercy on that beach.

However, there was one war story that brought instant tears to Sid’s eyes.  He was back on his ship, the war nearly over, and they were smack dab in the middle of the entire Pacific armada with vast air power protecting the fleet.   American air superiority was so complete that even Kamikaze’s were no longer considered much of a threat.  He finally felt safe from the enemy.

The ship next to his was a hospital ship.  That evening, the deck of the hospital ship was brightly lit as the nurses and doctors operated feverishly to save the lives of wounded soldiers.

Sid was on the deck watching the hospital ship when one lone blip showed up on his ship’s radar.  It was determined that it had to be an American plane….it wasn’t. The Kamikaze pilot targeted the hospital ship.  His plane crashed onto the ship’s deck and burst into flames as it skidded across the top of the entire ship. I can still hear the despair in Sid’s voice as he described the horrific scene, “He killed all of the nurses, those girls, those girls, they all died!”

Memorial Day is set aside for us to think about human cost of war and to solemnly remember and honor our nation’s military dead and their families.

It is not about ……cupcakes

Just saying…..

 

 

 

Letters to my Grandson: Cat Warfare….Sergeant Reckless A Great United States Marine

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Sgt. Reckless

Dear Grandson,

Well it is wet, rainy and cold outside.  The dogs have already been digging in the black mud in what is left of our garden and now my kitchen floor has as dirty path across it that could rival the Oregon Trail.

The Oregon Trail is the path that tens of thousands of pioneers used to cross our country to settle in the west. The exodus of white settlers from the east coast to populate the west coast resulted in many wars with Native Americans. If I was a Native American, I would have defended my people and land, too, but that is a story for another day.

Normally, when I think about the Oregon Trail, I cannot help but marvel at how many tons of people, merchandise and hardware was pulled or packed over muddy roads, dry deserts and high mountains by horses. The taming of the horse was real gain for humans…for humans at peace and those at war.

During the Korean War, the war where Great Uncle Wendall was killed, there was a famous pack horse named Sergeant Reckless.  While being reckless is not something this or any other grandmother would ever endorse. This horse was an only exception to that rule, because she protected her boys.

This mare was purchased by a Marine, from the Recoilless Rifle Platoon, Anti-Tank Company, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, on October 1952 for $250. He purchased her in Seoul, Korea, from a race track stable boy.  The boy needed money to buy an artificial leg for his sister who had stepped on a landmine.

At the time of her purchase, the mare was about three to four years old, was small, about 56 inches tall (14 hands) and weighed only 900 pounds. She was a reddish-brown color called chestnut. That’s right she was a ginger.

The Marines named the mare, “Reckless” and allowed her to roam wherever she wanted throughout their camp.  She slept in the tents with the soldiers and would eat almost anything.  Her diet consisted of scrambled eggs, Coke, beer, bacon, mashed potatoes, shredded wheat, peanut butter sandwiches, chocolate bars, hard candy, buttered toast, her blankets and approximately $30 worth of poker chips. Her handler did restrict her Coke consumption never more than two day.  A good rule of thumb for us all.

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Sgt. Reckless  in the tent with her boys. 

The mare was purchased to be a work horse, not a horse for recreation. There was always an officer’s order in place saying that the mare was never to be ridden.  In a war zone filled with buried landmines that was just a good use of some old-fashioned common sense.

Besides filling the mare up with junk food, the Marines taught the mare battlefield survival skills.  The person who trained Reckless, for her work carrying ammunition over mountainous terrain under enemy gun fire, was Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Latham.  Private First Class Monroe Coleman was the horse’s caretaker.  These men trained the mare to not become tangled in barbed wire, to lie down and duck when being shot at and to run for a bunker when she heard the shout, “Incoming!”  Lieutenant Eric Pedersen who had paid for Reckless with his own money had his wife, in California, send him a pack saddle for the horse to use.

Reckless was very smart and even though the locations of each of her missions changed with each new battle, this horse quickly learned each new supply route after only a couple of trips.  She often delivered her supplies to the troops on her own without any human helping her.

Reckless’ war service career lasted for only about nine-months, but she took part in many battles. She carried supplies and ammunition to soldiers on the front line and hauled many wounded soldiers away from the front line to aid stations for medical help.

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Sgt. Reckless under enemy fire. 

Reckless’ first time under fire, even though she was carrying six recoilless rifle shells, made her jumped straight up into the air.  All four of her feet left the ground! When she landed, she just stood and shook like a civilian.  Her handler, Coleman, calmed her down and the second time the gun was fired she just snorted.  By the end of the day, Reckless was totally calm and was seen trying to check out how the big gun worked and eventually settled on trying to eat a discarded helmet liner.  Reckless was had become fearless of gunfire.

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Sgt. Reckless on a mission.

Her most challenging days came in late March of 1953 during the battle for Outpost Vegas.  In one day, this mare made 51 solo trips to the front lines, through enemy fire to resupply her Marines. The little mare carried a total of 386 recoilless rounds of ammunition weighing over 9,000 pounds over a total distance of 35 miles. On each trip she carried from four to eight, 24 pound shells. She was wounded twice during that battle.  Reckless was hit by shrapnel in her head just above her left eye and another time on the left side of her body.  Anyone that has ever owned a horse knows how horrible scared they get from any bloody head wound…not this mare. Even wounded, she continued to do her duty and made sure her guys had the ammunition they needed.

Reckless’ dedication to her Marines during that battle was recognized when she was given the battlefield rank of corporal. She was one of the first animals to hold an official military rank in the United State Military.  She had a few other firsts, too.  Reckless was the first Marine Corps horse to participate in an amphibious landing, to be awarded two Purple Hearts, a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, A Korean Service Medal, The United Nations Korea Medal, a Navy Unit Commendation, A Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation and a French Fourragere.

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Sgt. Reckless’ promotion ceremony 

Several months after the war had ended Reckless received her promotion to sergeant. The promotion ceremony was personally presided over by the Commandant of the Marine Corps himself.  He was like the top guy. This little mare was honored with a 19-gun salute and a 1,700 man parade of Marines from her regiment, and she received a red and gold blanket with the Marine insignia.

Reckless was retired after the war and brought back to the United States.  On November, 10, 1954 this military hero was led onto American soil for the first time by Lieutenant Pedersen.  November 10, also just happens to be the birthday of the Marine Corps and like any good Marine, Reckless went to the party.  She attended the Marine Corps Birthday Ball, rode in an elevator and greatly enjoyed her piece of birthday cake and the party’s floral decorations.

Her retirement was spent at Camp Pendleton where she eventually gave birth to 4 foals. Her surviving foals were named Fearless, Dauntless and Chesty. Chesty was named after Lieutenant General Chesty Puller…the marine with the most medals of all time. He was also one of the very few Marines that ever rode Reckless.

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Statue honoring Sgt. Reckless

Now I bet you are wondering where the cats are in this Cat Warfare letter. Well, there aren’t any, because whenever and where ever the United States Marines show up, cats become scaredy cats and they all run away.  No bragging, just fact.

So, moral of this letter is that respect should always be given to those who have earned it….Veterans and horses alike.   Veterans for their service and sacrifice to our country and horses, because quite frankly they are huge and can knock your block off with one kick.

With the presidential election coming up so quick, you must be seeing on television and hearing at school a lot of stuff about the candidates.  Most of it bad. This next week, I want you to remember that we are a very strong country.  Elections have been held during far worse times in our country and resulted in our Constitution and nation growing stronger.

Politics is just like when your dad and aunt used to quarrel.  They really could go at it,. Both convinced that only their idea was right.  Oh….they could get so mad at each other, but God help anyone from outside our family that picked on either of them, because they would quickly unite and protect each other.

The first rule of thumb in politics and war is panic never helps. The second is that those who show up rule. It is not the strength of political parties or even our military that keep us free, it is the strength of the ballot.  My darling boy, always vote.  It is your civic duty and the best way to honor our nation’s veterans who serve and have sacrificed their lives, like your Uncle Wendall, so that we are free to choose the leaders of our government.

Say hi to your parents from grandpa and me.  Sending lots of love and hugs.

Have a very safe and happy Halloween!

Love

Grandma Pat

Letters to My Grandson: Cat Warfare…Black Cats and Uncle Wendall

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Dear Grandson,

It was so very fun to spend last Saturday with you and I greatly enjoyed our conversations.  I am so proud of you for being informed about the presidential race…it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

I just love it when we go hiking.  Don’t you just love how this world is so beautiful! So many different colored birds, fish, animals and this time of year even trees.  I love looking at colors which is probably why I like artwork so much. Of course everyone knows that in addition to liking colors, I like horses.  I always enjoy checking out all of the horses on our drive to your house. Whether golden, brown, black, red, white, blotchy or spotted I have always thought horses were so very beautiful.

Do you know what else I liked about our visit? I enjoyed your mass caterpillar rescue.  You saved their lives even when they were pooping on you.  That would make you quite the hero in my book.

In the car when we were chatting, the subject came up about Great Grandpa Larson’s brother Wendall who was killed in battle during the Korean War and I promised you I would tell you about him in this week’s letter.

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Wendell Larson

In all of these years, I have never heard anyone say anything unkind about this great-great uncle of yours.  I do not think this is because he died fighting for our country, but from what I have learned about him, he was a really nice guy. As your Great, Great, Great Aunt Ida once said, “Wendall, was the best.”

Wendall was born on December 2, 1927 and was killed in action in Korea on October 22, 1951.  He was 23 years old when he died.  Wendall grew up on the same farm as your great-grandpa and myself.  It is not the same farm as where grandpa lives now, but it is pretty close to there.

Wendall loved to farm, hunt and fish.  He was always full of good fun and was a great son, brother, cousin and nephew.  He once shot something like…10 ducks with one shell….your great-grandpa has a picture of it somewhere.  Ask him to show it you.

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First Lutheran Church where Great-Grandpa Larson, Wendall and I all attended. This picture was taken during the congregation’s 100th anniversary. 

Wendall was raised in a Christian home and went to the same church your great grandpa, and I went to for Sunday school and services.  I am sure that some of the first songs he learned were “Jesus, Loves Me” and “Jesus, Loves the Little Children, All of the Children of the World”  just like I did. Even as a young man, Wendall made no secret of the fact that he loved God and professed clearly that Jesus was his savior.  In fact, one of the last people he said good-bye to before leaving for war, was his pastor.  The pastor cried after their visit, because he had such a strong feeling he would never speak to Wendall again.

Wendall was drafted into the army that means the government told him, he had to go.  He did not volunteer like your Great Grandpa Larson did when he joined the navy.  Your great-great uncle was over six feet tall and as a large soldier he was chosen to carry a BAR gun into battle.

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Soldiers with BAR during Korean War

A BAR M1918 was a gun that was designed by John Browning in 1917 for use in World War I. It was designed to be carried by an infantryman during an “assault.”  During World War I to fire a BAR the soldier would use a sling over his shoulder or would use his hip to stabilize this heavy weapon.  This is called, “walking fire”.   This method of use was for the trench warfare of WWI.

The Army changed BAR tactics for World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.  Since this weapon was a light machine gun, they used it as such.  No longer was the gun fired from a shoulder sling or the gunner’s hip, but from a bipod….although most soldiers did not use the bipod. Also, the BAR “man” was no longer alone, but he had a “squad” to help him.  An assistant gunner was always close by with additional ammunition, especially on patrols or when in battle.

“A typical BAR gunner of the Korean War carried the twelve-magazine belt and combat suspenders, with three or four extra magazines in pockets. Extra canteens, .45 pistol, grenades, and a flak vest added still more weight. As in World War II, many BAR gunners disposed of the heavy bipod and other accoutrements of the M1918A2, but unlike the prior conflict the flash hider was always retained because of its utility in night fighting.”

The average combat lifespan of a BAR gunner in a WWII battle was 30 minutes.  I don’t suppose that there would be any reason to think that a BAR man’s life during the Korean War would have been in any less danger.

Your Uncle died during a military offensive called, “Operation Nomad-Polar.”  His platoon was pinned down by enemy machine gun fire.  Your uncle bravely tried to reach a better position to take out the enemy’s machine gun nest and was hit in the chest by machine gun bullets.  In the letter his mother received from a soldier that saw Wendall die, it was noted that he died instantly and probably never knew what hit him. For his act of bravery, he was recommended for the Silver Star medal, which is a high honor, but due to lost records his family never received it.

As flashy as medals are, nobody would ever give their life for one. Your uncle died so that other men in his platoon could live and they did.  Knowing what I know about Wendall and his deep faith in God, I have always figured Wendall felt somewhat along the same lines as the fellow in the Indian Jones movie who said, “My soul is prepared, how’s yours?” Only I picture that he would have thought, “my soul is prepared, I do not know about my guys’ souls and somebody has to do this or we are all goners.”  No matter what his last thoughts may have been, he acted in love to save his buddies.  His Bible would have taught him that there is no greater love than to give your life for a friend.

Now, you may be wondering why there is a picture of a black cat in battle gear on the front of your card. It isn’t just because you have a very blackish cat or two. When I obtained Wendall’s military records it listed his fellow soldiers race.  Your uncle was fighting in a military unit that was mostly black soldiers or “negro” as it was listed on the records.

It was apparent in some of the last letters your uncle sent home, that he knew that he was not going to survive the war.  Oh, some might say he was just being negative, depressed or realistic, as I am sure he knew how risky it was to be a BAR man, but I think he knew how military units filled with black soldiers were often ordered into the thick of the battle before white soldiers.

That turned out to be true in this case.  At that time, in the 1950’s, many people, including military officers still did not like black people or soldiers.  His unit was one of those who sustained very high casualty rates.

Throughout our nation’s history, whether it was during the battle for Fort Wagner and the Fort Pillow Massacre during the Civil War or in the battle where your white uncle died….black soldiers have not been treated with the respect that their white counterparts received.  Many black soldiers were treated pretty much like those caterpillars treated you.  Even though you were willing to help save their lives, they pooped on you just the same.

Racism always reminds me of horses. I have often wondered why if God created horses, which are the same animal, in so many beautiful colors, why anyone would think he would not do the same with people. Did God intend that palomino horse would be of any less value than a brown or sorrel one?  Of course, not!  So why, would anyone think that God would create people of different worth and value because of color.

This reminds me of a couple of situations I found myself in when I was not much older than you. Several of the schools I attended were white minority schools.  That means there were many more students of color than white kids.   I will never forget being in the locker room in seventh grade when I heard one of my black friends shout, “Girl, you sure are white, you are white all over!”  It was then, that I noticed I was the only white person in that whole room.  I have never forgotten how it felt to be exposed before my peers as the “different” one.

While that incident was funny, this one was not.  One evening after a choir concert a group of black boys surrounded me and were threatening to hurt me badly.  Another black fellow, who was a friend of mine, shoved me into a building, locked me in, then took on the gang.

Now, should I have judged all of those black children by the actions of a bad few?  No, and I would have been the worse for it, for I would have missed out on all of the joy, fun and laughter shared with the rest of my non-white friends.

Anyone who judges by the group whether that group is black, white, male, female or anything else is just plain wrong.  Our country was founded on the principal that we are to be judged by our personal actions and character.   As horrible as your uncle’s young death was on that hill that day, those young men caught together in that fire fight were not black Americans, white Americans, gay Americans, rich Americans, poor Americans, Latino Americans or any other made up title that tries to separate… they were just Americans united together to save each other. That is what we must all be.

I don’t know the color of the skin of the men who carried your uncle’s body off that hill.  Oh, how I wish I knew their names!  For so many years Wendall’s mom, my grandmother, grieved to know that “her boy” had been taken care of, so that his body, “didn’t lay out for the animals to get at.”  Those “Americans”, who he died to save, were as tired, hurt and frightened as human beings can be, never-the-less they unselfishly took the time to carry your great-great uncle off that hill to an aid station within in hours of his death.  Respect given and received, and that is how it should be.

I hope that as we all go to the polls to vote for president we can come together as an American family to support our nation’s next president, whoever that might be,  and to work together in peace to create a  bright and safe future for all of you kids.

I love you.  Keep practicing that clarinet.  It is a beauty, but not nearly as handsome as you.

Love and hugs,

Grandma Pat

Memorial Day Memories: Uncle Wendall Laverne Larson KIA, Korean War

My Uncle Wendall Laverne Larson at age 23 died serving his country during the Korean War.  Wendall’s toe tag His military records state that, “Cpl. Larson was KIA at approx 1900 hours, …

Source: Memorial Day Memories: Uncle Wendall Laverne Larson KIA, Korean War

Memorial Day Memories: Uncle Wendall Laverne Larson KIA, Korean War

My Uncle Wendall Laverne Larson at age 23 died serving his country during the Korean War.  Wendall’s toe tag

His military records state that,

“Cpl. Larson was KIA at approx 1900 hours, on 22 October 1951, near Nodong-Ni, North Korea.  Type and Location of wounds are unknown.  His body was recovered and positively identified by SFC Norlan W. Schultz, Company “I”, 19th Infantry Regiment.”

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Cpl. Wendall Laverne Larson

His parent’s, George and Esther Larson, were notified of his death by telegram on a Sunday as they arrived home from visting relatives.  Grandmother Esther’s letter to her sister

The official government notification came later. Letter of death notification to family.

The family receives a letter from a witness to his death. How your son died. The family received their son’s purple heart, but the silver star medal never arrived.

His parents had to fill out an application to receive his personal  effects.
Application to receive their son’s personal effects approved.

It took many weeks for Wendall’s body to come home. He returned to Minnesota in a casket, covered by our national flag and with a single soldier as a military escort. It was raining the day that his siblings picked up his casket at the railroad station to deliver him to the local mortuary. His youngest brother still recalls how light the casket was and laments that Wendall must have lost a lot of weight before he was killed.

The family held a memorial service for him early in December–on his birthday-in the same church where he was baptized and confirmed– First Lutheran Church, Grove City, MN. Memorial on Wendall’s Birthday Letter

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Wendall is buried in the church’s cemetery in our family plot and lies right next to his first cousin Eugene Kronbeck who was also killed in Korea.  Eugene was killed only a month after Wendall when a mortar shell landed on him. So much sorrow at once for the family.  Both young and old mourned.

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“My cousin, Eugene Kronbeck photo taken the morning he left for Korea Sept 20, 1951. He was killed in action Nov 25, 1951. I’ll never for get his funeral in Grove City, MN. The rifle salute and taps played. I was 7 years old.,” Cousin Grace Gauer.

After Wendall’s death life went on, on the family farm without him. There were keepsakes of the lost son forever present: a satin pillow with silk fringe he sent home from Japan to his mother, the triangular shaped flag, his favorite hunting shot gun still hung on the kitchen gun rack and his letters from Korea.

Some of Wendell’s letters dream about home and a future.

September 22, 1951
“So John B. rented his farm to Gaude.  I would have liked to have rented it.  I wonder if Gaude is still going to farm that land over by Ottos.”

September 27, 1951
“Too bad you didn’t get a chance at Ed’s decoys for $5.00.  With all the water in Mud Lake they probably would help a lot.  I don’t remember if I told you that we had eggs from Litchfield Prod. Co. for breakfast the other morning.  I got those pictures.  They sure are good.  I see I have a very cute niece as everybody has been writing and telling me. ”

Other letters were filled with his reality in Korea.

July 8, 1951
“Two weeks ago tomorrow we went back on the line or I should say in front of the line. We were out past the line of resistance.  Tuesday we got into a big fight and just 2 of us who didn’t get hit.  Keith Lindahl, my pal from Mpls. got hit in the shoulder.  He got sent to the hospital.  The rest of the 2 weeks we destroyed enemy ammo and bunkers.  I was with 5 others looking through bunkers and we caught 10 Chinese.  One had been wounded in the leg so had to be carried out.  I am a BAR man so have Browning auto rifle which weighs 15-19 pounds.  I also carry 13 mags with 20 rounds in each and my assistant carries 8 mag.  Go Margaret’s picture and is real cute ‘everyone thinks so’. ”

July 9, 1951
“Vince, who was my best buddy in the squad, got wounded by a gook grenade.  Not too bad I guess.  Wagner and Moore also got wounded and Urqhart was killed.”

The average life span for a “BAR man” during combat is 30 minutes.

Stories of his short life were told and retold.  I know that my Uncle was a devout Christian, he was the best shot in the family, he was tall, good looking, kind with a great sense of humor.  He was greatly loved by his family and friends.

Below is a  letter from Wendall’s sister to the nephews and nieces who never knew him.

A Brother Makes the Supreme Sacrifice

“I have chosen portions of Wendell’s letters written from December 1950 to October 1951 to share with you his nephews and nieces.  I want you to know about him–to know how he lived, how he served and how he died.  He was very intelligent.  He was very committed to country and to family.  He was loved by aunts and uncles, cousins and friends.  Many of them wrote to him often and sent packages of food like banana bread, fruitcake, cookies and donuts.  His letters were long with descriptions of their meals and countryside.  He asked many questions regarding our welfare and activities. 

To Debbie, Laurie, Steven, Patrica, Douglas, Barbara, Diane, Bryan, Galen and Christine, May you remember with pride your Uncle Wendell Larson.  He would have been very proud of each one for you.

Aunt Margaret

I have never heard anyone have a bad thing to say about Wendell.  My great-aunt Ida once said, “He was the best. I cried so hard when I heard he was gone.”  Her sorrow never faded for when she was well into her nineties Aunt Ida would still tear up when she spoke of him or saw his picture.

Nor did the the love of his mother and father ever fade. As a child I spent many hours with my Grandmother Esther. As a teenager I used to go over to help clean her house, usually about once a month or so.  I would wash floors and do the tasks that she could no longer physically manage. There was one task that she always did herself.  When we were dusting, it was grandmother that dusted Wendall’s picture. After her dust cloth gently wiped any dust from her son’s face she would tap the glass three times.  I Love You.

Memorial Day was designated as a day to honor our nation’s war dead. It is so much more just another day off from work for picnics and fun. Remembrance and gratitude is what Memorial Day is all about. It is a day to solemnly remember the men and women in military uniform who sacrificed their lives defending freedom.  It is also a day to acknowledge their families.  For families of the fallen in battle, Memorial Day is a time for their community to remember their beloved, acknowledge that loss and to express gratitude for their sacrifice.

This Memorial Day, like many past Memorial Days,  I will spend time thinking about my family, their loss and wondering what life would have been like growing up on the farm with an Uncle Wendall.

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Information about military personnel records for a deceased loved can be found on the National Personnel Records Center website at: http://www.archives.gov.

The National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138-1002