He is 93 years old and still has a gleam in his eyes. My wife and I took this WWII vet to a dinner theatre as a gesture for employing my wife for the sale of his house. We were going to see Oklahoma! We pulled up in front of his new residence and as he approached the car slightly bent over with a cane keeping him steady I thought of the great bald eagle. Our great American symbol. His eyes were sharp and full of knowledge. The slight crouch reminded me of the position right before take off. I couldn’t wait to talk to him. Wayne got in the car and off we went.
After our initial greeting my wife and Wayne began singing the first line to Oklahoma and maybe half of the next line. It was a treat for me to see that there was truly a friendship here, because up until now all I had heard was how nice he was. I had googled the Battle of Bastogne which Wayne was a part of. I wanted to be able to talk about it and ask some questions. Wayne had twelve tanks under his command and was part of the101st Airborne.
We arrived at the Candlelight and were seated. It’s a nice place and I was impressed immediately with it’s ambiance. The actors were your servers, which gave it a wonderful feeling of community. While waiting for lunch I got the chance to talk to Wayne about the Battle of Bastogne. I asked what role he and his tanks had in the battle. As I waited for the answer I saw him travel back to the battle through his eyes. He got there and then started to speak. He left 4 tanks over there and 4 more at another location. The 4 tanks he was with drove up to where the 101st was dug in at the tree line. They were completely surrounded by the enemy.
He spoke with the commander of one of his tanks and told him to move back so he could have a better line of sight. He walked away and came right back and the man had been cut in half by shrapnel. Then one of his men asked who he wanted in charge of that tank. He never answered because at that moment he was hit. Shrapnel came down right behind his left shoulder and bored a hole moving diagonally towards his right side. He asked his man how big is the hole? He rolled his shirt up and told him he could fit his fist in it. Well you better take me to the medics (he said).
Wayne also made it to the battle of the bulge and went on a rescue mission to save some of our men. He was praised and thanked by our nation and it’s president. The mission was a very big deal. My own dad was a WWII vet at Anzio Beachhead, I wish I knew more about his time there?
On the drive home from Oklahoma we sang some more! Actually remembered about two and a half lines J
God love this country and the men and women who protect it. Thank you Wayne and Dad. Love one another!