Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day Post

ASIDE FROM MY GRANDPA, my mother's Da, I've had no immediate family that have served. My uncle Paul enlisted in the Army Air Force in WWII and brother-in-law Gerry acquitted himself honorably in VN.

My dad (b 1917) tried to enlist in '42 and subsequent years but was deemed too necessary in civvy street work. (He later worked with Air Force and eventually NASA as a radar and guidance system engineer).

Granpa Philip came to live with us when I was in my mid-teens. He was a victim by that time of what would be later termed as Alzheimer's but in the '60s was referred to as senile dementia--he was not crazed--he simply could not remember the most basic things. When asked his address, for instance, he would state a location he lived at 40 years previous.

As a young child (before onset of Alzheimer's) my experience of him was that he was more than a little stiff and formal. He had achieved significant success in the business community of (at that time) one of the ten largest cities in the US. He had little patience for the precocious son of his only daughter, Grace.

His wife, Grace's mother and my granma, passed not long after Mom's birth in 1918 of the global pandemic remembered as "the Spanish Flu". By all family accounts, he was a doting father to his only daughter.

(My Mom, Grace Ellen, would have turned 90 last Friday, May 23rd. She passed in '03. We miss you, Mom.)

Granpa Philip was orphaned in childhood, he and his brother were both hospitalized in a sanitorium for TB where his brother succumbed. He went on to attend a fine military prep school/academy--McDonough--which I attended, also.

As previously stated he was uncomfortably stiff and formal--there were no grandfatherly conversations with the grandson. Visits were short and perfunctory--family duty more than anything else--consequently I never got to really know him.

So long after his passing in 1973 this fills me with a sadness hard to express. He was a man of honor, a Silver Star recipient, and could have been a greater influence and inspiration were he more comfortable around a young boy.

Juvenile disappointments aside--it's with great pride and humility that I post the few words, crucial key words from the official records of how he is remembered:

Name: Philip Crawford McIntyre
Race: white
Address: 2307 Harlem Ave., Baltimore
Birth Place: Baltimore, Md.
Birth Date: 16 Sep 1889
Comment: NG 1 lt Inf; USA 9/4/18 capt Inf, Co F 5 Md. Inf; Co F 115 Inf; 3 Off Tng School Camp McClellan Ala. 1/4/18; Co F 115 Inf 5/15/18, Hon disch 6/26/19, Overseas 6/15/18 to 5/24/19, Center Sector; Meuse-Argonne, War Dept Citation for Gallantry in Action In the Bois de la Grande Montagne, France, Oct. 10, 1918. While in command of Company F, 115th Infantry, and upon learning that one of his scouts was seriously wounded and lying exposed to enemy fire, he crawled forward under violent enemy machine-gun fire to the side of the wounded man. Being unable to move the wounded man without assistance he crawled back to the line, secured the assistance of a member of his company and returned with great difficulty to the wounded man and together with the help of the soldier carried the wounded man to shelter, AEF Citation for Gallantry in Action For gallantry in action October 9, 1918, in establishing and holding a line of resistance against a superior force of the enemy, 29 Div Citation for Gallantry in Action Displayed remarkable courage and leadership, October 8th, 1918, in the fighting east of the Meuse, when he led his company in the face of heavy machine gun and artillery fire, in order to protect the flank of his regiment which was being turned by attack.

Today, the only living memories of Philip are guarded by my sister and me. She is the caretaker of his Silver Star. We have both honored his memory by using elements of his name in the naming of our sons.

So just about a month before Armistice Day (11 November) Philip is credited with heroism under fire. In the same year he gained a daughter and lost a wife. He wasn't some fresh-faced kid when he went to Europe to fight in a war in which we had no direct stake--he turned 30 in France. This was the first "modern" war. Use of deadly mustard and chlorine gas, first use of air power, first widescale use of machine guns, tanks, battleships, aimed artillary smarter than the previous cannon.


Cold, muddy and bloody trenches. Horse-drawn wagons carrying munitions forward and corpses back next to doughboys barely able to read their enlistment papers slogging through the dirt roads of rural France. A local population with which you don't even share language that has even less understanding of the situation than you do. Shell shock. Forward tent hospitals where the main remedy for limb wounds was amputation. "Sawbones" becomes slang for physician.

Not to discount the Spanish-American war of 1898, the only generation truly knowing the horrors of war extant by the time of our commitment in Europe were in their 70's and older. They were the veterans of our War Between the States. America had never before committed to largescale warfighting on foreign soil. It was a new territory but one in which we'd become all too familiar with as that century progressed.

For all those who have fallen in battle.

For all those who have returned with the memories.

For all those that proudly serve today.

Today, I'm remembering.



Anonymous said...

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Best regards
Timm Clade

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