In memory of all those who served, I want to share a tribute to my dad, John and the 96th Infantry. This picture was taken in Okinawa and is featured in World Book Encyclopedia and in a documentary by the History channel.
Last and biggest of the Pacific island battles of World War II, the Okinawa campaign (April 1—June 22, 1945) involved the 287,000 troops of the U.S. Tenth Army against 130,000 soldiers of the Japanese Thirty-second Army. At stake were air bases vital to the projected invasion of Japan. By the end of the 82-day campaign, Japan had lost more than 77,000 soldiers and the Allies had suffered more than 65,000 casualties—including 14,000 dead. (History.com)
Okinawa was considered the bloodiest battle in WWII. This is where my father fought. He and his buddy, John, were scouts for the Army. Today they would be considered Army Rangers. The average lifespan of a scout in Okinawa was 17 hours. Dad and John had many close calls in their three months on the island. They saved each other’s lives many times.
They stayed in foxholes. Artillery fire was almost constant. It was kill or be killed. In fact, one story they told involved them laying face down on a pile of dead bodies and playing dead as the Japanese walked across their backs. What Dad and John endured, along with the other Deadeyes of the 96th infantry, was horrific. Such are the stories of war. Spending time in memory of their experience is heartbreaking and humbling. It is easy for me to become complacent and forget about the gift that freedom is to this country. This generation and those that followed in service to this country (US) deserve more than my humble thoughts in their memory.
There was more to learn from my dad than his heroism. He had one thing that sustained him other than John. His faith. While in a foxhole, my father read the entire Bible cover to cover and the New Testament twice. Dad didn’t talk much about his faith. Instead, he would challenge me to defend mine. He knew the Word and wanted to make sure I did too.
[ The Word Became Flesh ] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 NIV).
I will never forget when he asked me, “What if Jesus was just a good man who lived a long time ago?” I responded with He is the Way, the Truth and the Life… Dad would smile and nod. I wish I would have asked him more questions about his faith. I will have to settle for the gift of knowing the Word brought him peace in a foxhole.
Who are you holding in memory? How did they impact your life? What gifts did they leave behind? Share here to breathe life and bring hope to others.