Friday, August 31, 2007

Taylor's new mission

I am proud to announce Taylor has given herself a new mission, but one that will require help from all.

When I posted about Taylor meeting with Floyd, I was almost immediately contacted by Bill (the wonderful Marine who has made Taylor her great plaques). He knows a man who does archiving for the Library of Congress on our veterans. He put me in contact with his friend and through that......Taylor's new mission was born.

Taylor and I kept talking about what a great honor Floyd had given her not only in being her friend, but in talking to her about his time on Iwo Jima and giving her his book he wrote. We talked about his age and how many of our WW11 veterans are leaving us at a rapid rate and it will only be a matter of time before this great generation is gone and there will be no more first hand accounts.

So, here is Taylor's new mission.........
She wants to contact as many WW11 veterans as possible, to make sure their stories are told and then preserved. Please, check this site out and if you know of any WW11 vets, do all you can do to make sure their stories are told. Taylor will do her part, and we put out the challenge to you all to do your part in this as well.

We have been in contact with the man that does the archiving in our area and we are very excited in helping Taylor out on this new mission she has decided she wants to take on.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Family and Friends Supporting Our Military

We went to a dinner last night for the families who have those serving to show support. Taylor and I went and she brought along a special guest, Cpl Floyd Holes, the Iwo Jima veteran.

When we walked in, 2 smart looking Army guys came right over to Taylor and said they had someone they wanted her to meet (she of course was in uniform!) They whisked her away and she hob knobbed with a Brig. General. She was pretty excited about that! As the ceremony started, the man in charge said he had a few people that he wanted to talk about. He introduced a handful of WW11 veterans. When he talked about Floyd (we had pulled the man aside earlier and told him about Floyd) and said he fought at Iwo Jima and was there for the flag raisings, you could hear the crowd of 120+ gasp. Floyd had such a wonderful smile as they all stood and clapped for him. Well, I would have been teary eyed anyways, but given the fact that he is one of Taylor's new friends and he was there with us.....water works time!

Next, the head speaker talked about Taylor and it was really unexpected because I don't know how they knew about her! To our backside was the head table and there were some very high ranking Army guys there and she got hugs from them. There was a state Senator there as well as a representative of the Purple Heart order who gave a very emotional speech.

THEN, the Brig. General got up and asked Floyd's wife Millie to stand (we had told them she was an Army cadet nurse) Millie looked so shocked! The General wanted to point her out specifically saying that it was women like Millie that paved the way for women today and that these women from back in the day just never got the recognition they deserve. Floyd just sat there, smiling and looking so lovingly at his wife of 60 years, he then reached up and held her hand as she was standing......ok....water works again! I am not sure if Millie has ever been recognized for what she did or not. It was such a wonderful thing to be a part of, and when we got home, Taylor said 'I am so glad we took Floyd and his wife'. I am to.......

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Honoring a Civil War veteran

Today we went to a service dedicated to a local Civil War veteran, Private Daniel Rose.

He was born May 28th, 1843 and died on June 18, 1929 in an unmarked grave at our local cemetery. Today, his service was conducted by the March to the Sea Camp #135. Daniel was given a proper service, as well as a beautiful head stone.

Daniel was 'mustered' into service at Camp Tilden in White Pigeon, MI as a Private in Company A of the Eleventh Michigan Infantry on August 24, 1861 for a 3 year enlistment. He served through General Sherman's "March to the Sea" campaign. He was wounded in Murfreesboro, TN but continued to serve for his entire enlistment.

The rigors of Daniel's campaigns with the Eleventh Michigan Infantry impaired his health for the rest of his life. In spite of this, after his enlistment was over, he graduated from the Louisville Medical College and served with the rank of Major in the Volunteer Medical Service Corps during WW1.

In digging through records on Daniel's life, an incredible find was made in that someone somewhere found a bundle FULL of letters AND pictures Daniel had written to home. He wrote home as often as he could to his mother and one letter even had a picture of John Wilkes Booth in it. He wrote to his mother of going to a theatre and seeing this actor and he wanted his mother to see him. Not realizing he had met and shook hands with the man that would soon take the life of our great President Lincoln.

I believe we will be going to the college that holds all this precious history. It was so interesting. As we stood in the very old section of the cemetery, with many markers with deaths recorded around the early 1800's it dawned on us, just how many of our veterans lay unmarked? How many lay and are unnamed?

Taylor was sure to go to the Civil War enactors and thanked them for preserving our history how they do, then walked to VFW veteran's and thanked them as well. They all just beamed in telling her it was of great honor they did what they did. So amazing.

(pictures to come once I figure out the mess Kodak made of my software and pictures)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Iwo Jima Veteran, a real American Hero

Taylor got the true blessing of being able to sit down and talk to an Iwo Jima veteran, Mr. Floyd Holes.

I can't even begin to say enough wonderful things about this man and his wife, Millie, who opened up their home for us to come in and visit and shared some home made lemonade and let Taylor hear some stories of Iwo Jima.

Floyd was a communicator for the 28th Marines 5th Division and as we asked questions, he never once hesitated or faltered in just what he had or wanted to say. It was as if things happened yesterday and he was very clear. He has some very strong feelings and he shared those along with some of his personal experiences.

He was on the island for 33 hard days of fighting, he came in on the 9th wave of the attack. He got a bit quiet when he talked about coming in on the beach, and Taylor and I understood perfectly why and at that time, asked no questions.....none needed to be asked for that.

Floyd was standing right there as they raised the first flag and was still there doing his work when they came up and took it down and raised the infamous 2nd flag. He is actually standing just outside of the photo. It is felt that he is the last living Marine that was standing right there for both flag raisings. He kind of laughed when he talked about the flag raisings. He said the 1st one didn't cause much of a stir, but once the 2nd one went up, the Japanese put up a small protest as he called it. He got a bit quiet when he said, we then of course put a stop to that.

He could recall people's names without hesitation, those he stood by, those he talked to, those he was friends with, those that were lost. He spoke with true conviction on the taking of Mt. Suribachi in saying that had the Marines not taken control of that, the atomic bomb would not have gone off when it did and that the Japanese would have come in and attacked America and we would have been under Japanese rule. He talked a bit about the atomic bomb and its devastation. Floyd looked right at Taylor and told her that while the atomic bomb killed thousands and thousands, it saved probably millions.

He felt that the communicators had a very important job and a very important role in how things played out. Behind every decision that was made by a General, it was up to a communicator to make sure that the decision got sent out in code properly and to where it needed to go. He laughed about how they had to do things back then compared to now. He just shook his head when he spoke of the vast difference in how communication is now from them.

He spoke of his brothers and his mother and how hard it had to be for her. All 3 of them were off in different battles and there was no way to get word back how there is today. One brother fought at Guadalcanal, the other brother fought with McArthur and he at Iwo Jima. Floyd spoke so lovingly of his brothers and of his Marine comrades. He had a few things to say about the people they had to fight and how feelings were back then and how they are still there today.

He sat down and painstakingly wrote a book about his time at Iwo and what happened before and after, it is called The Iwo Jima Communicators and he gave Taylor a copy of it and signed it. In it, there are many many pictures. Sitting there looking through the pictures with him almost seemed surreal. Here we were sitting with one of our nations greatest, listening AND looking at our American history.

There was on moment that I think will always stand out in my head. Taylor and Floyd were sitting right next to each other and she asked him how long he was in the Marines for. He told her proudly 3 1/2 years, they were hard fighting times, but ones he would never give up. She then asked him what his rank was. Before he answered, he asked what hers was and when she said GySgt, he sat up tall and got this huge smile on his face. He then told her he was a PFC up until the day he got out, and that day he finally got his promotion. He and Taylor looked at each other and just laughed. It was something I guess that only those 2 understood, and it was a moment that was just between those 2. She leaned into him and he put his arm around her and gave her a good squeeze, both of them smiling. To see someone so young and someone so old, but they had an understanding between them and it was just a really neat and precious moment.

When he got back, he got sick and had TB, he believes from a prisoner of war. He spent a whole year in the hospital. He then taught the communication code and said still to this day, he can be somewhere and he will hear a certain sound or tone, and his fingers literally start to move as if he were doing code again.

He went back there for the 5oth anniversary and talked about how that was.

Other things were talked about and Taylor got a real history lesson, one that would never be taught nor learned in a classroom, but most of all she gained a new precious friend. We are making plans to go out for dinner.

Amazingly enough, we found out that yet another Iwo veteran lives maybe 20 minutes from us and we have been in contact with him and he is very excited about meeting Taylor. Floyd was a communicator and a few times had to be infantry and fight, but I believe that our next meeting with the other veteran will be a different type of story. But, I will tell about that after we meet.

I have pictures of Taylor and Floyd and will get them on her and in her photobucket once I can figure out what upgrading my Kodak software did. It has gone through and erased almost all of my pictures on the computer and did a funky set up thing that even the Kodak people can't really help with. So, once I can get that worked out I will get the pictures up.