他让我想起了一只斗牛犬，这有时是偶然但总是引人入胜的第二次世界大战老兵。在我参加军队之后，我到达伯灵顿后不久，我们于1992年首次见面。按时间顺序，他已经70年代初，但从生理学上讲他年轻了。我很容易想到一个曾经身材强壮的，英俊的年轻人，肩膀矮小且矮胖，有宽阔的肩膀，肌肉发达的手臂。20多年来，我听了他的“电影剧本”生活，这些生活被冒险，异国旅行和难以言喻的危险所打断。当他达到90年代时，他的头脑仍然敏锐，但他的身体失败了。然而，这些故事仍在继续，我越来越迷恋他们。这些故事需要听到，以免被遗忘。每个人在一生中都像美丽的挂毯一样辛苦地编织，每个缝线都反映了一段时间。我承认我最初对他的故事很怀疑。 They seemed too exciting, too adventurous, and too dangerous to be true. After all, he was just an “old man,” and what could he have done? I knew better than to default to that presumptuous position, so I kept asking questions. I wanted to hear and absorb his stories.
He had been a state champion Golden Glove boxer and a gymnast from the Bronx of New York City, later even becoming a circus acrobat. He held an array of jobs – skyscraper construction, bar bouncer, a traveling salesman, and, eventually, a successful businessman. It was his life in the Navy, though, of which movies are made and books written.
He was an original Navy frogman, the predecessors to the current Navy Seals. In the early morning darkness, hours before the bloody carnage that would be D-day, June 6, 1944, he led a team of frogmen ashore on the coast of France, their purpose – to “quietly and quickly” secure critical bridgeheads all closely guarded by the enemy. They did so using only a knife. They could not take a chance of alerting others. He told the story in a matter-of-fact, this-was-what-I-was-trained-to-do way. There was no bragging, no regret. Yet as he spoke, he seemed distant, remembering …
He proudly carried in an old, leather-bound, dusty album. There he was in black and white– young, handsome, strong, the physique of a champion boxer, gymnast, and warrior, just as his stories had portrayed! In one picture, his arms were around his “Band of Brothers,” head cocked sideways, a mischievous grin on his face. With awe, I turned each page, his youth frozen in time. He took the album and opened it to the latter half, and there before me, appeared the women from his stories, beautiful in their youth yet slowly fading in those stills. Arms intertwined, faces smiling agelessly, a lifetime ahead of them. I counted over 30 pictures from around the world. The pictures cried out, “This is me! I was young once! I did many things, even great things! I have stories to tell; listen to me; I still matter!”