War Bonds

Greater Love

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Ken and Carolyn Lewis

War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation tells the stories of WWll heroes both at home and abroad. But those aren’t the only heroes I’ve met.

Last week I met Ken Lewis.  He was wounded during his first tour of duty in Vietnam and scheduled to be flown out. But before that happened the unit of South Vietnamese soldiers he was serving with was ambushed 400 yards from the base. Caught in a crossfire every single soldier died. “Eighty seven men, wiped out,” said Ken.
And he wept.
“He’s never talked about this before,” his wife, Carolyn explained, shocked by his openness.
But that’s not the heroic part.
After Ken got home, their 18 year old son enlisted and called to tell them he’d received orders for Vietnam.
“You aren’t going,” Ken said. “Absolutely not!”
He been there, you see. He didn’t want his son to live through what he’d endured.
His son balked. “Dad! I’ve got orders!”
“No,” said Ken. “No.”
He called a friend in the Pentagon and said, “There’s no way I’m going to let my son go to Vietnam– send me instead. I will go back.”
And he did.
His son was sent to Alaska and Ken did another tour of duty in Vietnam.
And I know I’m supposed to be a hard-boiled professional journalist, but tears filled my eyes and I sat in my car and wept after this interview.
“Greater love has no man than this….”

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War Bonds

Thankful for those who serve

This Thanksgiving I’m so very thankful for the 35 World War ll veterans and their wives who shared their stories with me in “War Bonds.”
Folks like Melvin Hayes, pictured here with his son, Butch while home on a brief leave.
Hayes on leave with son Butch, 1945, low res
Melvin was 27 when he was drafted and had to leave his wife and son behind. Holidays are an especially difficult time to be separated from loved ones.
Tomorrow, as you gather ’round your tables, perhaps one of the things you might be thankful for are the men and women who served or continue to serve, their country so selflessly.
I know I am.