Thursday, November 12, 2009

Frozen Soldiers

Frozen Soldiers
Dedicated to my father
RIP Lance Corporal Riley (B. 1920-D. 1966)
Born into a time frame that propelled him into WW II, my dad, Bob S. Riley, would join the Army under the buddy system.
At a time in history when young men went to war to fight not on political expediency or ideology or specter of an education, but on patriotic zeal and passion for freedom, was the watchword, the call that emblazoned young men’s heart. . If it meant dying in a blood strewn battlefield of foreign soil, filled with stench of death and mangled madness, then if that was where freedom lay, then freedom would be found. For what price is too much for freedom?
After receiving basic training, he had an opportunity to attend OCS( officer candidate school) though he only had an 8th grade education. My dad passed on the opportunity as he wanted to be in battle with his friends and if dying was his fate, then he was sold out to that fate.
Patton Speaks To The Troops - England, May 31, 1944
"Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country. Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. ALL REAL Americans, love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers . . . Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post, don't know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating. Now we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know . . . My God, I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against. My God, I do. We're not just going to shoot the bastards, we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel. Now some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken out under fire. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you'll all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood, shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo, that a moment before was your best friends face, you'll know what to do. Now there's another thing I want you to remember. I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything, we'll let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly, and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose, and we're going to kick him in the ass. We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time, and we're going to go through him like crap through a goose. Now, there's one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you're sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, "What did you do in the great World War Two?" You won't have to say, "Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana." Alright now, you sons of bitches, you know how I feel. Oh! . . . I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere. That's all."
Dad was a foot soldier in Patton’s Army and as such saw more than his share of bloodshed. Tired, hungry with death all around he would witness horrible atrocity. He would lose many of his buddies on the plains of battles and in the forests of fights. He would show heroism on many occasions and was awarded many medals.
He also drove tanks, blew up bridges and did whatever it took to advance the cause for which he was called. He single handily took out a German bunker when under fire, by attacking it despite the imminent prospect of death sailed on to his mission. Tossing hand grenades into the bunker, he wiped out German soldiers who would have surely taken out many more Americans. For this he was recognized.
He came home and was never wounded during all of the battles. His friends did not. He came alone. But he came home with the images of soldiers on the battlefield frozen in time, those who would not have families so that others may. He came home scarred and battle weary on the inside like most do. One cannot kill others and not be affected by it. He often lamented having to kill young boys barely teenagers, that Hitler threw on the battlefield in a desperate attempts to stop the advancing Americans.
Once, when I was about 14 years old, I was wearing a surfers cross around my neck. To me it was just a symbol of rebellion at the time. My dad saw it and approached me. The cross was in the shape of a German Swastika of which I had not considered. Instead of insisting that I remove it, he simply told me that I was free to wear it if I liked, but he warned me that other soldiers may not like it. No long speeches of why, none needed, I removed it and never wore it again.
Unfortunately, my father died of a heart attack at the age of 46 when I was 15. I never got to know him as a man. I miss that. I’m not sure what would be different in my life had it been different but I do know this. He would tell me too never quit, never let someone take freedom from you, never lay down when it’s time to stand up, stand up, be proud for rivers of blood have been poured and “Give Em Hell” to those who would come against.
Sadly, my dad and all others who fought the good fight would be stunned by today’s events. To sit and watch planes flying into buildings by Islamic Terrorist and not to answer with all out war. Making politics out of attack would be an abomination to him and his friends frozen in times on battlefields afar. Political correctness and sensitivity is a joke and one that my dad would surely fight against. You see he also knew the enemies within the camp and like then, now he would if he were here and able, gather his buddies frozen in time of foreign soils and gather them together in and all out assault. I can hear his battle cry “ Give Em Hell”. May we not forget from whom we have sprung and may we most honor all of those living and dead by not idly forfeiting what others paid for.