Sunday, May 29, 2011

Remembering Willie and Joe

You can search the history books all you want, you won’t find much about Willie and Joe although in the 1940s they were two of the best known heroes of World War II. Bill Mauldin who traveled across Europe with them, told their stories to the rest of the world earned a Pulitzer Prize for his work. In the process he also managed to piss off General George Patton and live to laugh about it.

Eventually the Post Office issued a Commemorative Stamp in his honor

Willie and Joe were heros because they were the symbol of every grunt “What was Carryin’ a gun and sleepin’ in th’ mud. ”. Willie made the cover of Time Magiazine, a huge honor back then..

I hadn’t thought much of Bill Maudin, Joe or Willie in many years.. then Examiner sent me an emai with a great well illustrated srory about Mauldin.. Like most of rhe stuff that floats around the Internet there was no link taking me back to the orginal author, so I did some looking.. the story itself Bill Mauldin stamp honors grunts’ hero had been writen for CNN by Bill Green… Someone else had looked up and inserted a number of Mauldin’s cartoons into the text
Jus gimme the asprin.. Already got the
Purple Heart

Wot were them changes you said you were
gonna make when you took over a month ago

One of the interesting things Greene points out in his story is the lifelong loyality Mauldin got for the WWII Vets. This from the the article:

During the late summer of 2002, as Mauldin lay in that California nursing home, some of the old World War II infantry guys caught wind of it. They didn’t want Mauldin to go out that way. They thought he should know that he was still their hero.
Gordon Dillow, a columnist for the Orange County Register, put out the call in Southern California for people in the area to send their best wishes to Mauldin; I joined Dillow in the effort, helping to spread the appeal nationally so that Bill would not feel so alone. Soon more than 10,000 letters and cards had arrived at Mauldin’s bedside.

Even better than that, the old soldiers began to show up just to sit with Mauldin, to let him know that they were there for him, as he, long ago, had been there for them. So many volunteered to visit Bill that there was a waiting list. Here is how Todd DePastino, in the first paragraph of his wonderful biography of Mauldin, described it:

“Almost every day in the summer and fall of 2002 they came to Park Superior nursing home in Newport Beach, California, to honor Army Sergeant, Technician Third Grade, Bill Mauldin. They came bearing relics of their youth: medals, insignia, photographs, and carefully folded newspaper clippings. Some wore old garrison caps. Others arrived resplendent in uniforms over a half century old. Almost all of them wept as they filed down the corridor like pilgrims fulfilling some long-neglected obligation.”


Then relax and watch the video


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