In May 1942 an explosion occurred next to him knocking him to the ground.The blurry vision of enemy boots shuffled past him as he blacked out laying lifeless and covered in dirt and rock bleeding from the mouth. As he blacked out he heard no more gun fire. Unknown to him General Wainwright ordered "Pontiac", destroy everything and leave nothing for the enemy. This was the last stand of the 4th Marines and many other soldiers on Corregidor Island.Soon after the lifeless body laying in the dirt awakes to see the U.S. Flag lowering and replaced with the enemy flag.Now, wiping the blood from his mouth and stagering back to HQ, he was told he was the last man to fight and surrender. Soon after him and his comrades were on their way to a deathly march across the Islands to get on a transport and work in Japanese mines as a prisoner.
But long after these events took place my story begins on a hot summer day in Ingleside Texas. The year was 1974.1974 was a challenging year for many around the world.The world was in an energy crises.The Watergate issues was the hot topic in Washington and Nixon was just about to resign from office. Speed limits across the country was slowed to 55mph to save energy and the most popular technology purchase of the year was the pocket calculator. As a five year old these things were not relevant to me.My goals was simply day to day fun and play.I love playing tackle football with my cousins and neighborhood kids.Typically we played outside early in the morning and later in the afternoon when it wasn't so hot outside. These Water Gate issues, fuel crises around the world and President Nixon resigning had no bearing on my daily activities.
South Texas along the Gulf of Mexico can get really muggy.The kind of muggy where your sheets stick to your sticky sweaty skin at night.It was about 5:30PM and my grandpa just got back from working outside.He had taken his shirt off to cool off in the living room.There were two window air conditioners in this old run down1100 square foot three bedroom and one bathroom home. The air conditioners worked hard day and night to keep their respective rooms cool.My dad, his two brothers and two sisters grew up here.My youngest uncle, Timmy, still lived at home and was 15 years old.The home was about a mile out of town.The house sat at the very end of McCullough Lane.The front porch slightly sagged down at one end.Outside the grass was nicely trimmed with a couple of palm trees in the front yard.One was a young palm tree that stood about 6 feet high at that time.The other was a larger mature palm tree that was probably at its maximum height. My favorite memories was sitting under the palm tree shade listening to the palms rub against each other in the south Texas breeze.Although the house was very old, grandpa took pride in what he owned and kept the yard looking clean and tidy.In the back acre sat an old shrimp boat.It was brought there from Aransas Pass harbor after Hurricane Carla in 1961 damaged it. We were told to stay away from the boat and the acres around it.It was full of water moccasins and rattle snakes and we would die out there.As a five year old that created a lot of fear to not be near there and avoided it like it was cursed lands.Occasionally we would see a snake or two race back into the deep weeded area.
Fishing was life in the Aransas Pass and Ingleside Texas area.Fishing and Gulf oil production was how my family made a living.I was at my grandparents a lot that summer because both my mom and dad worked full time.My dad worked long hours as a crew boat captain taking oil rig workers out to the flat tops in the Gulf.My mom worked at a factory in Corpus Christi and would drop me and my two sisters off daily at grandpa and grandmas.Grandpa wasn't home that often but was retired.I didn't know what all he did but come to find out much more than I realized.To make extra money he would sew fishing nets and do public appearances speaking at conferences, meeting with government and military dignitaries and participated in parades.
With his shirt off, grandpa went into the kitchen and poured a glass of tea.He sat down next to my grandma which he called "mamma".I assumed it was becasue she bore his five children.They loved each other.As a five year old I can tell it was a deep love and respect for one another.Grandma seemed to worship grandpa and admired him deeply.You could see it in her eyes.I sat down next to grandpa and as a five year old I had a lot of curiosity.I saw many scars on his body.I started to ask about them.There was one that really stood out.It started at the top of his chest and angled down below under his breast toward the center of his stomach.I asked him what happened?The answer I got was surprising even as a five year old.He told me a Jap officer took a sword and cut him with it.I said did it hurt?He said after a while it did, but his adrenalin was so high at the moment he didn't feel the pain.I said what did you do?He said he stabbed the Jap with his bayonet.For a five year old that was an interesting story but didn't really understand what a Jap Officer was or the reality of it until much later in life. I didn't understand on this hot summer evening at the end of McCullough Lane in Ingleside Texas in this old run down house lived one of the highest decorated Marines in U.S. History.Now that I was old enough to ask questions, the story's of my grandpas war fighting efforts had just begun.
While sitting on the couch next to him I asked more questions including the scar on his wrist.It was a wide scar and looked like he was burnt at one time.He told me that was from a hot barrel of a machine gun.He rested the barrel on his wrist while running and firing at the same time.I didn't really understand but later realized what heroic actions he took.The scar on his wrist in addition to the long scar on the very top of his head represented his actions that received his first Silver Star.
This draft is the first few pages of my book. The information is pulled together from historical information and the stories told to me by my grandpa as a young child up until I was 19 years old. More to come...