The Unshattered Soldier
I once knew a man who was in the first wave on Omaha beach in the great D-Day invasion of fortress Europe in 1944. His name was Ole Gunderson and he was a Swede from Minnesota. When I knew him he was a frail white haired little man in a home for old Veterans.
Sgt. Gunderson was a unique man. Many old soldiers are reluctant to talk about combat preferring to talk about the pretty girls in Paris or that time the Major got busted in the cathouse in Saigon. Ole had no problem talking about that day in June so many years before.
His story went like this. On the transport ship before the invasion he was scared witless. He couldn’t eat the steak and eggs the Navy had laid out for the men. Instead he dozed. During his brief nap he had a dream. He dreamed that he was an old man sitting in front of the television in his easy chair. Now this may not seem odd until you consider that in 1944 there was no television. Oh, it had been invented but it was something to marvel at not something people had in their homes.
When he awoke something odd happened to him. He lost all fear. He knew he was going to survive. In fact, he never left the easy chair. On the ride in when everyone else was shivering in the cold wind and the salt spray he was warm and toasty. When he hit the beach hit just casually walked toward the high tide line like he was strolling on the beach with his best girl. He lived and gained a reputation that day for being one of the bravest sons of bitches that ever lived. He never saw it that way. Lucky? Yes. Brave? No. It wasn’t brave if you had no fear. Bravery was overcoming fear and still doing your duty.
Hats off to you Sgt. Gunderson you lucky S.O.B.
๑ Samsaran ๑