My dad was one of the guests who are veterans who came to our assembly November 10th. It was a privilege to sing patriotic songs together, listen to a short history of the day, and say thanks to the veterans who attended.
After the assembly, my dad joined the third and fourth graders in the classroom to answer questions about his service in World War II. He was in the Army Signal Corps, working in England and France enabling communications from headquarters in London to the front lines. Here are some of the questions and answers heard in Room 201:
Was it scary?
Sometimes. Where we stayed in Eastbourne, England, we were on the buzzbomb path. The one that landed closest to me was about two blocks away. It opened up a hole almost the size of the classroom. Working on antennas in 85-mile-an-hour winds was scary. Once in a very dark location, we were told the enemy had parachuted in behind us and was ready to destroy our communication set-up. Fortunately, it was unharmed.
What was it like working on the Eiffel Tower?
Normally we took the elevator to the top, but when it was cold, the hydraulic system didn’t work because the water froze. When that happened we took the stairs, 1700 of them. They were not in good repair so the handrail was not complete. We would almost hug the pole the stairs wrapped around, as the wind would be at our back and then the front as we went up. Once we had made the climb, we would stay at the top for three days. When it was windy, we could feel it sway; it felt like it moved two feet each way. The lightning flashed around us on the framework.
How long did it take you to climb the stairs?
I could do it in 20 minutes, carrying my backpack with supplies for three days.
How old were you then?
I was 19 and 20 years old.
How many hours of sleep did you get?
I slept about five hours a night, and one night a week I didn’t sleep at all.
How was the food?
We had good food, better than the people in the area. It was shipped in to us. In Eastbourne, we stayed in a nice home, abandoned because of its dangerous location. We would invite the police chief over for dinner, and he said he hadn’t had food like ours in some time.
Did you have drinks?
We were told not to drink the water or the milk, as they might not be safe. Boiling the water for coffee or tea was all we could do.
What is the bronze star for?
Bronze stars were awarded for meritorious service, for going above and beyond. We were given this award for keeping communications open almost all the time, I think about 98 percent, through all different conditions.
Since I knew the answer, I asked my dad, “What is in your pocket?”
This is the New Testament I carried with me all through the war. It is 71 years old. My dad gave it to me and suggested I read the book of Romans every month. I didn’t quite do that, but I did read it often and pray. I was called “The Deacon” because of that. My buddies weren’t believers, but they appreciated that I was.