Sacrifices of veterans hit close to home
Three days ago our country observed Veterans Day.
Some attended events intended to honor those who have served the United States in military service here and abroad. Some chose other pursuits, but I hope they all took some time to think about the sacrifices others have made to preserve our way of life.
The country may be divided in some ways, but those sacrifices ensure we have an opportunity to differ on some issues.
When I think deeply about veterans and their sacrifices, two men stand out for me. Both have passed from this world, but their experiences in World War II and after their return are unforgettable.
My uncle on my dad’s side of the family, Ivan Shindledecker, served in the U.S. Navy. He worked in radio communications onboard an aircraft carrier so he didn’t face danger on a regular basis.
But in a war, danger is never far away.
One day, the ship he was stationed on was the target of a bombing run by Japanese forces. The carrier was destroyed and lives were lost. Fortunately, he and many others had left the boat.
But the few days that passed before he could get in contact with family at home to let them know he was OK dragged on for what must have seemed an eternity.
On my mother’s side of the family, my grandfather, Clarence Bochert, served in the U.S. Army and fought in Germany. He served in the infantry and also drove an armored car. My late mother shared one story that would affect even the hardest man.
His unit was at an airfield awaiting the arrival of a plane they were told carried German soldiers. They were to fire on the plane after it landed. They did, but to their horror, the plane held civilians as well as women and children.
Those are the types of things which happen in a war. They may defy logic, but that’s war.
Grandad Bochert seemed to bring back more scars. He once choked his wife after they had gone to bed. My mother was still a very young child at the time and the details were never fully shared. But some of those issues he dealt with were called battle fatigue, now known as post traumatic stress disorder.
Our soldiers still deal with those disorders.
While we appreciate their efforts, we should also explore ways in which we can lend a helping hand.
We owe them that much.
Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 406-758-4441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.