It was Christmas day in 1941 and the family had gathered at my grandparents' home in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. My most vivid memory of that day seventy years later was my aunts on a sofa next to their husbands, Uncles Lamar and Roy. However, instead of enjoying the holiday my aunts were crying. Several generations would pass before I understood the reason for their tears. They knew full well it was probably the last Christmas Roy and Lamar would be spending with family for a long time, maybe forever.
After the holidays Lamar turned in his civvies for army khaki while Roy chose the navy uniform of the day. They ended up in different theaters of operation. Uncle Lamar became an infantryman with the 3rd Armored Division fighting his way across France and Belgium, surviving the Battle of the Bulge unscratched only to be severely wounded a month later during a “routine” patrol. Uncle Roy was more fortunate in the Pacific. Although his carrier was hit by a kamikaze off the coast of Okinawa in 1945, he too survived the carnage unscratched and looked forward to future liberty passes as his ship limped back to the repair facility at Pearl Harbor. But, Surprise! In the bloodbath to take Okinawa skilled mechanics were needed ashore and Roy was a Machinist Mate so he was “volunteered” into the Sea Bees, sent ashore, and spent the last months of WWII toting a carbine as well as a wrench.