by Sally Matheny
|WWII Veteran Charles H. Walker|
Twenty-three days before blasting into D-Day, WWII Navy sailor, Charles H. Walker wrote a letter to his mother.
A section of this letter has stuck with me over the years and I want to share it with you. No matter how big or small we think our contribution is in life, this WWII veteran's letter inspires us all to give our best.
May 14, 1944
I will write you a few lines tonight to let you hear from me. These few lines leave me in good health and getting along fine. I hope you are well.
Mother, I think of you and Dad a lot these days and would like to very, very much see you. Of course, I don’t think it will be as long as it has been until I’ll be back in the states. Not for good, but for a leave, I hope. I think of the rest of the family, too. Of the little girls and of Sis. I know that it will be one more happy day for me when I do get home.
Right now, I’m going to do all I can to get this war over with. My part is only a small one, but I’m proud I can do it, and I’m going to do it as best I can.
Mother, I’ve been in the Navy fifteen months now. And I’ve never been on report or had any extra duty or anything yet. I’m going to try and have my record as clean as if I stay in for 15 years. It’s just as easy to do it right as it is wrong. . .”
Good night, Mother.
Charles Walker served as the senior electrician on the U.S.S. LCF #27. The twenty-two-year-old thought, compared to others, his part in WWII was small. I disagree.
If the electricity failed, the sweeping for mines came to a halt, the rockets did not launch, and more lives may have been lost.
Every person on board had a job to do. Whether it was sweeping for mines or sweeping the deck, it all mattered. Doing it well mattered even more.
Charles decided, regardless of the significance of his job, he planned to give his best. He persevered through many monotonous days at sea. Occasionally those days were punctured by kamikaze pilots so close he could feel the plane's force as it plunged past him. Later, as he fished the body out of the water, Charles found the pilot's death, at such a young age, unsettling.
A similar empathy came when he observed the frightened German POWs on the shores of Normandy. Charles said many were his age or younger. He felt sorry for them because they looked terrified.
|Thank you and Happy Veterans Day|
Some of Charles' days were exhausting, stressful, and lonely. Other days, not so much. But he still longed for home. He would see the American flag rise at Iwo Jima and serve until February 1946 before heading home for good. And he was right. It was “one more happy day” when reunited with his family!
It’s not an easy job serving in the military, especially if you’re far away from the people and the country you love.
I salute Charles Walker, who is still persevering and giving his best at age 95. I wish a Happy Veterans Day to him and all the veterans who chose to serve honorably, or as Charles said, to “do it the right way.”
Veterans, whatever you consider a “small part” in serving our country, I consider it monumental.