Some of our best memories come from these interviews. These include John Speheger, who struggled with lung problems for four hours, determined to document the ordeal of Okinawa and Carl Sproatt, wounded so badly he was put on the dead pile.
There were magnificent gentlemen like Jack Rice, Bob Sherer, Bill Twigger, Marv Skeath, Harvey Anderson, and Frank Mack. Dick Whitaker owns our respect. There were the hospitality men: Glenn Moore, Buzzy Fox, and John Albanese; the truly good ole boys, Delmer Asbury, and Jim White; the fun and comfortable visits with Carmine Polo, Ken Wells, and O.B. Aasland; and the sharp Marine salute Vince Matthews gave us from his porch as we drove away. How can one put a price on those memories?
They were rambunctious boys with funny stories of their youth, but John Speheger put it all in perspective with these words: “There was a moment in the battle when the firing stopped and all was still. That’s when we heard it. It was like a giant moaning, but it wasn’t a moan. It was the drone of thousands of flies hovering over the battlefield dead.”
These men are my personal heroes, deeply etched in my mind, my heart, and my story.
Don McAllister directs the National Veteran’s Historical Archive. His column appears the second Sunday of each month. He can be reached at email@example.com and www.nvharchive.org.