When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 07, 1941, my Uncle Chuck (Alvah Franklin Brads) became one of Virginia’s first Pearl Harbor Volunteers. He was 16 years old. (He was my favorite Uncle!) He spent four years in the US Navy and paid for his service dearly. He was never really the same according to those who remember him from before. He saw a lot of action, especially at the Battle of Anzio in Italy. He was, what we would now say, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome/Disorder. In other words, he was shell shocked. He saw a lot of boys die and the memories never left him.
Alvah Franklin Brads
Ada Brads and her son Alvah (Chuck)
He wasn’t the only member of his family to go to war.
Uncle Andy, Grandma, Grandpa, and Daddy
My Grandparents watched three of their four sons go off to war at that time. My Uncle Russ was too old, had health issues, and had too many children for the Army to take him. He stayed behind and worked in the war effort like many men and women, including my Mother. He was a hero as well.
Grandma saw three of her boys go off to war, never knowing where they were, or if they would come back.
They all did. It was a miracle, but they all came home. There were many families at that time that lost all their sons and along with those boys, gave a supreme sacrifice.
My Uncle Andy (Andrew Vincent Brads, SR.) was in the Army Medical Corps. He was an administrator of the Bellevue Medical Center in New York City when it was used as a ‘receiving hospital’ for wounded soldiers coming home from combat. He stayed after WW II, made a career of it and retired many years later after serving in WW II, Korea, and in Europe during peace time.
My Dad, the father of two young children went into the Army in the last couple of years of the war and served in the Phillipines and Korea. He had 219 continuous days of combat while he was an Infantry Platoon Sargent in the 63rd Infantry. He left a young wife, a five year old daughter, and a 10 or so month old son back in the states.
Mother and Daddy in Macon, GA WWII
Mother hired a “nanny”, though no one would have called her that then, and went to work at Hercules Powder Company in the Nitrocotton lab. Now, I have no idea what that was other than it involved explosives, so she was, at least in my mind, as important to the war effort as Rosie the Riveter.
When peace came in 1945, all Grandma’s sons were together again.
None of them were ever the same. As I said, Chuck was “shell shocked”. Uncle Andy never discussed the war with me. I know he saw a lot wounded and mentally damaged men at the hospital, yet he talked the Army up like it was a summer camp. It was a good front.
Daddy never said much about it until later in life when his PTSS kicked in. He was able to repress most of it through hard work and discipline, but eventually, the memories of war crept back in. At 88 years of age, they bother him from time to time. There are nights when he wakes up in the jungles of the Philippines.
All these men and hundreds of thousands of others before and since then have done what was asked, and in some cases more. We owe them all a great deal.
WWII isn’t the only war we remember today. From the Revolution on through Viet Nam and to Iraq and Afghanistan, thanks for your sacrifices, and thanks for our Liberty, our Freedom, and our Security.
If you see a veteran today…tell him or her thanks!