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Searching for Co-op veterans

Aug 20, 2019

A friend recently shared with me copies of some handwritten pages found a few years ago in a family member’s belongings after his death. The carefully written words described his experiences as a sailor aboard a submarine during World War II. Though the family knew of the man’s service, he had kept the details hidden, speaking very little, if at all, about the harrowing battles and near misses he went through.

This reserve is typical of those whom journalist Tom Brokaw dubbed “The Greatest Generation” in his book of the same name. It seems a shame to me that the sailor’s family never got to ask questions about his heroic service. It might have been matter-of-fact for him — as some of his descriptions show — but his simple sentences carried deep meaning and provoked me to want to know more about his fears, his courage, and more.
In one instance, he describes how the submarine conning tower was strafed with bullets from a trawler with which the sub was exchanging fi re. One stray round shattered a speaker where he would have been standing if he had been on watch.

My own family has a similar story. My mom’s brother, Bud Edmondson, died in 1976 when I was only 11. I knew he had served in the U.S. Army and fought in World War II, but I never heard him speak of his service. Mom told me how he had been captured and spent long months in a German prisoner of war camp, but it was years later that my aunt shared with me a scrapbook she kept while he was in enemy hands. The scrapbook contained tattered, yellowed newspaper clippings, the wire message telling the family that the 18-year-old youth was missing in action, and another that he had been confirmed as captured and was being held in a German POW camp. The uncertainty and emotion that seethes between the lines of those letters and clippings are powerful and poignant, but the story of his ultimate deliverance and return home is one of my family’s testimonies of God’s grace and faithfulness.

The scrapbook left me with hundreds of questions I would have liked to ask but will never have the opportunity.
It’s with these two stories in mind that I would like to do something special for our October-November issue. Since we celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11, I would like to give the Co-op community the opportunity to share stories of their own veterans. If you have a story about a veteran in your family you would like to share, please send to me at the address below. Depending on how many responses we have, we will use as many as is practical. We may also feature these on social media. Send via email to gliford@ourcoop.com or via traditional mail at Glen Liford, Editor, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, P.O. Box 3003, LaVergne, TN 37086. We must receive any submissions by Friday, Sept. 6.
 


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