Note: N2 My brother, my hero, by Polly Brobst Scott
He was my hero. Eleven years my elder, he was willing to spend time with a kid sister, whether it was teaching me a few gymnastic moves (in the living room!), giving me a ride in the rumble seat of his jalopy, or teaching me the fine art of handling snakes which he kept in a cage in the back yard. I was probably a bit of a pest, the spoiled baby of the family, but I donít recall a time when he shooed me away. But because of the difference in our ages, the opportunities for interaction were limited. He was active in high school activities before I even started school. And I was only 9 years old when he was drafted into the U.S. Army shortly after Pearl Harbor. At this point his life took on even greater heroic proportions. He was going to jump out of airplanes with a parachute! (Turned out he was too nearsighted, and was thus ìvolunteeredî to fly in gliders, also known as flying coffins.) When my hero came home on leave, he was ever so handsome in his uniform. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, the ìScreaming Eagles,î the most heralded unit in World War II. Our mother lived in fear every day, as she read accounts of the daring 101st in the newspaper. Our parents waited so longingly for his letters, which ñ understandably ñ were both few and far between and highly censored. On D-Day, Dick landed behind the German lines in a glider which, like others, crash landed. He rode another glider into Holland, an Army disaster from start to finish. Because of his experience tinkering with cars, he was assigned to drive a Jeep, frequently chauffeuring high-ranking officers. He drove that Jeep into Bastogne, site of the infamous ìBattle of the Bulgeî where the American troops were surrounded by the Germans. When the enemy demanded the U.S. surrender, the commanding officerís response was the unbelievable ìNUTS!î And the officer who delivered that strange message to the waiting Germans was driven by none other than my heroic brother, wildly returning to American lines in his familiar Jeep. When V-E Day (Victory in Europe) came in May of 1945, no house rang with more cheer than ours. This 10-year-old kid sister wove red-white-and-blue crepe paper in the spokes of her bike and joined the celebration in the streets of our small town. Yes, we knew the war in the Pacific continued, but our hearts were in Germany with a beloved G.I. We expected his immediate arrival at home. It was not to be. Though highly decorated, he had not earned enough ìpointsî be to be sent home immediately. So we all waited. Surely he would be home for Christmas. Didnít happen. We were so discouraged that we decided to postpone the celebration until he could join us. When the awaited date came, the Christmas tree branches were bare, the presents a little raggedy from being handled and shaken! The joy we experienced at his homecoming was so exhilarating, so dramatic it almost hurt. It was hard to share him with Mother and Dad, and my sister and brother. If he had been my hero before, he now took on the mythic proportions of Spartacus, Constantine and Alexander the Great. Note: After the war, we learned very little of his dangerous escapades. Like many returning vets, he wanted the danger and trauma forgotten as he moved on in life. He married, had five charming children and a rewarding career. Although he escaped the physical terrors of the war, he died at 58 from lung cancer. My hero, who became a substitute parent when my father died, is now part of family history.
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