Monday, December 5th, 2016

A lesson of war from Charles Durning

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Burr Deming at Fair and Unbalanced wrote this last week about the return of a young marine in his family and compared it to the combat experience of actor Charles Durning. It’s a interesting blog post and we’re grateful to both for their service to our country.

{Durning} was part of the force that landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He seldomed talked about his experience, but once opened up about the perilous swim to shore. Those who were dying summoned strength to throw themselves in front, acting as human shields from the hail of gunfire. He himself was wounded, a bullet remaining in his hip for the rest of his life. Every other member of his unit was killed that day. He was the sole survivor.

In Belgium, he was wounded again, stabbed with a bayonet in desperate hand-to-hand combat. He killed the German soldier with a rock. His company was captured while fighting to free embattled US troops at the Battle of the Bulge. He was one of those force-marched to Malmedy, where Germans carried out orders to execute prisoners of war by machine gun fire. He was one of the few to survive.

Worrying as we did for our own young Marine, I wonder about the depths this soldier must have endured. Surviving by chance, the only one in his unit, protected by a host of dying combat troops, surviving again the war crime at the hands of Nazis, the brutal individual combat – up close and personal.

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