Saturday, December 16, 2006

Only A Hero Can Write Of A Hero

Requiem For A Hero

Guy Putnam died Wednesday. He was my wife’s grandfather. His obituary reads,”Guy Irvin Putnam, 80, born June 20, 1926 to Guy and Mabel Putnam in Payette, Idaho passed away December 13, 2006 in Jacksonville, Florida. He is preceded in death by his daughter Joanne. He is survived by his wife Ilse, a son Pete (Sherry), four grandchildren and five great grandchildren. In recognition of Mr. Putnam’s 27 years of service in the United States Army, he will receive full military honors graveside.”

It’s always been said that still waters run deep. It was never truer than for this unassuming American hero, most commonly known as Granddad.

In the six years I’ve known Guy he was always the soft-spoken retiree who thoroughly enjoyed relaxing with his sweetheart of sixty years Ilse and watching a football game with a warm beer. The grandchildren always teased him about his penchant for warm Old Milwaukee and ice cold coffee. He never tired of telling Ilse how much he loved her, and she never tired of hearing it. Even near the end as his son Pete and I carried him downstairs to go to the to the hospital for his final visit, he spotted Ilse and said, “I love you.”

Guy was raised in depression ravaged Idaho and to make ends meet would travel with his father from Idaho to Oregon to Washington doing construction work to feed their family. As a teenager he attempted to enlist in the Army, but was initially turned away because of nerve damage from a childhood bout with Polio. Guy persisted because his country called and by 1946 found himself in Manheim, Germany where he met a beautiful young German woman named Ilse Vogt. Love blossomed, as will often happen when two young people meet under such extraordinary circumstances, and they soon started their family.

In 1951 the Army assigned Guy to Korea as a Quartermaster/Supply Clerk while his wife and son awaited his return in Tacoma, Washington. Not content to just “do his duty” in Korea, Guy returned with a Bronze Star for heroism during the UN counteroffensive against North Korean and Chinese communist forces. Unfortunately Guy never told me about this, it wasn’t in his nature to brag.

The Putnam family was reassigned to Germany after Korea and in 1955 Joanne was born. Guy and Ilse now had Peter and Joanne and their family was complete. They moved from Germany to Washington, back to Germany and then to Ft. Stewart, Georgia. Time to take cushy, safe assignments, right? Not Guy Putnam. In 1967 he went to Vietnam where he was awarded ANOTHER Bronze Star for ground operations against hostile forces as part of an artillery unit that came under direct attack. The shy, unassuming young man who was initially refused entry into the Army because of a bout with Polio, struck yet another blow for his country! Again, the details of this were gleaned from his service record two days ago. He never let on.

Guy retired in 1971 after nearly 27 years of active duty to Atlantic Beach, Florida. The Putnam family moved a total of 26 times due to military assignments. Families like their’s sacrificed so much to defend the entire free world against the Soviet menace.

Guy worked another 15 years as a machinist with his son Pete before retiring yet again in 1986 to enjoy life’s simpler pleasures. Guy wasn’t a braggart or a talker, he led by example. As this Christmas and Hannukah season is upon us, we have many things to be thankful for. Let’s start by being thankful for soldiers, fathers and grandfathers like Guy Putnam.


My friend Morgan is what is known as a 'man's man'. He's tough, he's smart, he knows the difference between right and wrong--and he's not afraid to say so. He has just written a beautiful tribute to his wife's grandfather; Morgan, your words are so lovely, and your heart is so apparent, all us gals know EXACTLY what Nanette saw in you. Sigh.... ;-) After being around those fools at DU, it's SO nice to see a REAL man! Thank you for this beautiful piece, your loving tribute.

I should, perhaps, tell you of my uncle Leo , who was so damaged at Iwo Jima, that, at age 15, my grandmother wouldn't let me walk up the alley to see him up close. I had to be content with just waving at him... I stand in awe of such men--and you, Morgan.


Anonymous cassie said...

A man's man - it's been a long time since I heard that phrase. How very apt. (wink)

Now you're back to saying we women LOVE a guy in uniform! (and why). (double wink)!

3:22 PM  
Anonymous lei said...

Wow, I wonder if the boys today are made of such manly stuff?

3:30 PM  
Blogger JINGOIST said...

Thank you so much for posting this up front DONAL. While I hardly deserve the high praise you gave me, Guy's decency and uncomplicated view of people were a refreshing contrast to the juandiced view that we hear constantly from the MSM. He never gossipped (around me anyway) and had a heart as big as Atlantic Beach.
One other thing that struck me. Ilse told me that our GI's over there had tremendous communication problems, so Guy learned German in less than a year and was a "native" speaker before the end of his first hitch there.


3:35 PM  
Blogger JINGOIST said...

lie let me tell you something, the guys we have now are easily the best warriors this country has ever produced. They are better than we were 15 years ago!


3:39 PM  
Blogger JINGOIST said...

DONAL your Uncle Leo fought in a huge battle! Iwo Jima was a brutal as they come. G-d bless his brave soul!


3:46 PM  
Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

Thanks Jingoist for your familys service and patriotism.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous z said...

This man's story made tears come to my eyes......and the way it was told is just beautiful.

Thanks, Morgan. I'd even drink a glass of warm beer to THAT man. WHat a REAL HERO. And, if he learned German that well that fast, ol' Guy was a GENIUS, too, TRUST me!!


4:09 PM  
Blogger The Merry Widow said...

Cassie- You're right, we don't hear that phrase often enough!
Lei-They have the same metal, it's just that they haven't been taught and raised the same, though you give them what they need, they'll provide the rest!
Morgan- Thanks for sharing, Dad was in the Army Air Corps before WWII, was RIF'd and then called back up, he retired after 22 yrs., the second time, because he was passed over for promotion, they had too many colonels, so he retired a "light bird", the only reason he didn't go to Korea was because he was working on developement of the jet engines, then rockets! So during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I never saw him! He worked 20+ hr. days. So I know about those men's men! Even my late served, he was a sole surviving son, so he couldn't go to Vietnam, but he went to Greenland, Hokkaido and Berlin!
These men are worthy of respect and honors! Thanks for sharing!


4:31 PM  
Blogger VerityINK said...

Of course you deserve our high praise, Jingo. You are so self-effacing. Let a woman tell you what a real man is; WE know for sure. Nanette certainly did! *winky wink*

4:38 PM  
Blogger VerityINK said...

My, my, I AM feeling my oats today!

4:47 PM  
Blogger The Merry Widow said...

Donal- That happens when real women are in the presence of real men! It's a healthy synergy, and good things are accomplished for the good of individuals, families, friends and society from the healthy energy to help others!
Remember, originally in the Garden, Adam stood by and said nothing when satan tempted Eve! And he had the authority, but he sat down and shut up! When we, as women, run into men who stand up and speak up, we applaud. Why? Because men are doing what they were created to do, that's why we appreciate a real man's man!
Good morning, G*D bless and Maranatha!


3:44 AM  
Blogger JINGOIST said...

Thanks to all you ladies for the wonderful sentiments! Guy's probably up there with G-d right now getting a huge chuckle out of the fuss that's being made about him.
At our wedding in Gatlinburg my brother toasted/roasted me and afterwards--in a room chock full of military veterans--stood up and gave a glowing tribute to Guy as the oldest veteran of the lot. He smiled and his face went beet red. It wasn't in his nature to be the center of attention.
Thanks again Z, Angel, Cassie and lei. TMW even though your dad wasn't in the thick of it, without people like him a war with the Soviets most assuredly would have happened. Our strategic abilities were 2/3 of the reason we didn't have to fight the evil SOB's!

One more thing. Please say a prayer for Ilse and Pete Putnam, they're having a rough go of it right now. Thanks, Morgan

4:58 AM  
Blogger VerityINK said...

I sure will pray for them, Morgan, TMW is absolutely right...!

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks , Morgan, for telling us this terrific story .

The real heroes are always quiet .The real heroes do not walk around with medals they baiscally stole from real heroes and built a career on.

These people are the base of our pyramid.

We are standing on their shoulders.

We are alive and free because of them.

Thanks again, friend.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Morgan. That was a beautiful tribute to your wifes grandfather. Sounds like quite a man,the kind they just don't make anymore. God bless you and please extend Nanette my condolences. I left you a message on your voice-mail,no biggie,call me when you can. J'Mac.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Donal,I didn't know you had an uncle who saw combat on Iwo Jima. Wow,so did my late father-in-law Jack. He served with the 4th. Marine Division,he was wounded on the island but it got him off there. Small world,eh? J'Mac.

4:36 PM  

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