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Friday, December 26, 2008

Post script: Heroic deeds presented as commonplace

My WWII vet friend Mark's funeral was today. I was privileged by his son to be allowed to read what I had written previously. And I heard a new story about Mark.
Seems Sgt. Holmes was in Paris in June 1945. A Colonel he knew asked him "Sergeant, do you have a jeep?" "Yes, sir, I do." "I want to visit my family that I haven't seen since I fled Italy and the fascists. So, I need to have you drive me to the Swiss border." "Yes, sir." And off they went on their 600 mile round trip odyssey. Mark dropped off the Colonel at his direction and was told to be back at that spot next day at 1500 hours. "Yes, sir." Mark called his C.O. (a two star if I remember correctly) and was asked where he was going and what he was doing. Mark said he'd report back to him when he returned. Next day, 1500 hours, Mark picked the Colonel up after visiting his family and returned to Paris. Mark immediately reported to his C.O. and was asked where he had gone. "Well, sir, I took Colonel Fermi to Switzerland to reunite with his family that he hasn't seen since he fled the fascists and came to the United States." Colonel Fermi was Colonel Enrico Fermi, Noble Prize winning top nuclear physicist in the world Enrico Fermi, the man who launched the first fission reaction Enrico Fermi and was deeply involved in the top secret Manhattan Project Enrico Fermi. That's the Colonel Fermi who Mark was spiriting all around France, Switzerland and Italy. With no escort or security detail. The General replied: "I didn't hear a single word you just said Sergeant! Dismissed." "Yes, sir."
My friend Mark:

It wasn't until yesterday when I was taking a picture of Mark's medals that I saw he had his jump wings, a Purple Heart
and a Bronze Star .
Heroic deeds as commonplace.


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