R.I.P.

My uncle Charles died this week at the age of 91, having just celebrated his 69th wedding anniversary. He was an exceedingly kind and peaceable man, a newspaper publisher and editor by profession.   Though I knew he had served in the Pacific during World War II, I never heard him say a word about it.  I see now from his obituary (and some followup Google hits) that he went overseas with the 3rd Battalion, 15th Marines, 6th Marine Division.   He served at Guadalcanal, Guam, and Okinawa, and was cited by the Marine Corps commandant for action in the battle for Sugarloaf Hill on Okinawa.   He also sustained injuries in an attack on Naha Airfield, after the recovery from which he served in occupation forces in North China.

My cousin once confirmed that her father almost never spoke about his service, but some years ago he agreed to be interviewed by one of his grandchildren for a school project.  The family listened in amazement as he recounted for the first time the mass suicides in Okinawa by civilians who'd been taught that American soldiers would torture them if they were captured.   I assumed that his long silence on that subject meant he had left the Marine Corps behind as a permanently closed chapter of his life when the war was over.  Again, his obituary disabuses me:  he served as commander of the Marine Reserves’ 14th Reconnaissance Battalion in San Antonio after he moved to that city in 1950.  A Google link to a 1960 letter to the editor of a local newspaper shows him signing as "Inspector-Instructor," and a "Lt. Col." in the Reserves.  I don't know what, if anything, that says about his rank during the war, which doesn't appear in his obituary.

I can't find online my uncle's interview about Okinawa, but here is a perfectly fascinating transcript of a 1994 interview he gave about his role in the sweeping changes in San Antonio after 1950.  He was a passionately populist man with a lot of business sense.

He was last of my father's siblings.

7 comments:

Grim said...

To men of the old fashion. To our brother, to the model for our children, let us drink: may he rest in peace, and in the glory of a good name well-earned.

raven said...

My condolences on your Uncles passing.

This is an excellent book on the Sixth Marine Division's attack on Sugarloaf hill. They went through Hell.
http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Ground-Okinawa-Battle-Sugar/dp/0275947262/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372652153&sr=1-2

Six said...

Condolences Texan. We may never see their like again though I like to think the current generation of War Fighters are also a breed apart. That we can still find men and women like them will never cease to humble me.

Texan99 said...

Thanks to all of you. The amazing thing to me is how little I knew of any of these parts of his life. He was just the very nice uncle who was a perfect gentlemen and the kind protector of his elder sisters, especially in their last illnesses. He was active and healthy until quite recently. A gracious host and a sweetheart. A country made up of such men would be a fine place, but would have almost no interesting problems to solve.

I remember a John le Carre novel in which a short character sketch included the phrase "He had clever children who adored him."

douglas said...

Humility is a virtue, and it sounds as though he had it in spades. It used to be men didn't have to talk about the things they'd done constantly, they just went on quietly with their business. A salute, then, to a man who lived a life of honor.

Tom said...

Sounds like a great man. We need more like him.

Thanks for sharing his story, Texan.

Kim Gibson said...

Respect. And lots of it.