Chapter XXI - Eddie's Close Call, Tony's Swap
Now our country and the Allies were preparing for the big push. The ninth army was to fight the decisive battle in Bastogne. This was to become known as the Battle of the Bulge and was the battleground that crushed the enemy. My fear that my son was fighting in this battle robbed me of my peace of mind, but I had to keep cool for the morale of the family. Already the most ferocious battle had become a reality and full units of young men were engaged in the holocaust. Many had paid the highest price for their country, the loss of their lives. We lived in suspense listening to every report on the radio and reading the details in the newspaper. Our fears for Eddie mounted, due to the fact that no letters had arrived for the last ten days.
Thanksgiving was approaching and the usual Thanksgiving celebration posed a dilemma. The family wanted to know if we were going to celebrate. I said, "We will celebrate as usual. I am not anticipating any bad news. No news is good news. Bad news travels fast. I feel that my sons are all right."
I was busy in the kitchen when the mail arrived. There was a post card from Eddie. He said that he was in a hospital in England, that he was all right and that he would write more later! What did the card mean? Why didn't he write a letter? Was he really all right or was he wounded? Was he badly injured?
All kinds of disturbing thoughts were crossing my mind but I knew I had to set the mood for the family. I said, "Thank God he is all right. He says he is and I believe him. Maybe we will know more tomorrow."
All my pretense was not enough to dispel the gloom.
The next day I waited anxiously for the mail to arrive. This time a letter gave us all the information we were waiting for. We had already known that he was camped in the northern part of France. He had told us in his letters that the ground was wet and cold and that they had to sleep on the ground in their tents. Their food was from ration cans and they had no freshly cooked meals.
His letter told us that three days before going into battle he had come down with a fever. Upon examination his illness was diagnosed as pneumonia. He was sent to a hospital in England and he was much better but he did not know when he would be released from the hospital. Subsequently he was moved to another hospital to convalesce. While he was there he learned that one of his friends from home was convalescing in a hospital not too far from where he was, so he decided to go and see him.
Billy was sitting in a wheel chair with his back to the door. Eddie came in and put his hand on Billy's shoulders. Billy turned, looked up and a smile of happiness lit his face. They spent a few hours together.
The war in Europe was won and the young men came back home.
Tony, too, came back but was rescheduled for service in the Pacific. After a short furlough home he was sent to North Carolina for reassignment. He was not happy with this turn of events because he wanted to start a full life with his wife and children. However, the country needed him and he would serve to the best of his ability.
While in North Carolina he met a fellow in the PX who said that he had been in service for three years and had never left the country. He wished that he would be assigned to foreign duty.
My son went to see his commanding officer and said to him, "I am not happy about leaving the country since I have a wife and two children and have already served on one front. Here is a fellow who has never left his country in three years of service and would like to serve overseas." The officer asked for the other man's name, everything was changed, and my son did not leave for the Pacific.
We were fighting Japan at the time, but Tony was assigned to duty in North Carolina where he rented a cottage for his family to live in.
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