If you have been reading my posts for a time, you have found that one of my interests lay in supporting our veterans, especially those who experienced PTSD. Individuals who served our country and return with PTSD suffer consequences to their personal lives and family. However, I had the privilege to know a very special veteran. Here is a brief tribute to his life.
US Army WW II Veteran Carl J. Nelson
One reason that I have had such an interest in veterans is that a World War II veteran lived with me for the past 20 years. We lost over 400,000 soldiers in WWII, and the consequences were of global proportions.
The person who lived with me was my wife’s father, Carl J. Nelson. He served as a Corporal in the United States Army and part of the Big Red One. He served our country throughout the entire war.
Nelson personally was part of the landings in Sicily, North Africa and Normandy. He tells the story that he was one of the first slotted to go ashore when the door was to open from his boat. Usually, the first two or three individuals from the boat took heavy fire and died as they attempted to gain land. In his case, the Normandy beaches were so full that his boat had no place to park; so the door never opened until most of the battle was over.
Stories of the Big Red One
He told stories of saluting General Patton, being decorated by Teddy Roosevelt, and many everyday experiences of being with the Big Red One. He shared moments of humor, camaraderie, tragedy and eventual victory.
In Nelson’s case, he was ordered to deliver a message. He had chosen a friend to ride with him in the jeep, but it hit a mine. While he was thrown out of the jeep, his friend was killed. After he was sent to a hospital for treatment, he was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Finally, Corporal Carl J. Nelson returned home to find his wife, start his career and family, and discover post-war life. He became an electrician for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. He had four kids, one of which I was fortunate enough to marry, and she and I raised two children.
This past Friday, Carl Nelson passed away in our home at the age of ninety-five.
He died with three of his children by his side. He faced death without complaint, and eternity with confidence. He had a great faith and a great deal of love for his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He befriended many with his genuine and winsome spirit.
Thus, we have lost another veteran who bravely served and exemplified an amazing commitment to his country, his family and his God.
I feel so much richer for being a vital part of his life. He has left wonderful memories, a blessed family, and so many positive legacies. I am sure many can identify with my experience as we honor the veterans of the Greatest Generation. May God bless you, Corporal Carl Joseph Nelson. We will miss you!
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network