Friday, May 14, 2010

A Salute to Our Family's World War II Veterans, Part I

Duty is the most sublime word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less. ---Robert E. Lee

World War II, 1939-1945, was a time of horrible destruction, hatred and sadness. Young men, with the support of women, were asked to leave their homes to fight an aggressive enemy on foreign land. They went to Europe, Africa, and the Pacific, places they had only heard of, or read about, in school books. These soldiers witnessed the atrocities of modern warfare, yet, upon their return home, were able to build the foundation for the superpower nation we live in today.

In his book, Tom Brokaw aptly describes the men and women of the WW II era, "… it is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced."

Over the next four weeks we take time, and the Weblog space, to pay tribute to some of the WWII Veterans in our family, and to the veterans of every great generation.
- Grace Holliman

A Soldier's Duty
by Norman Holliman

My father, August Harold Holliman, was born in Burleson County, Texas, September 27, 1923 and passed away March 11, 1991, much too young. My mother was born November 2, 1928 in Maryville, Tennessee and survives him.

Dad enlisted in the Army on May 19, 1944 at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. He was sent to the front lines in France and Germany where he was in the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944-January 1945). He reported that, in some places, he had to walk in thigh-high snow in sub zero conditions.

One evening my father was on guard duty. When he finished his watch, he went to the campfire to get his replacement. The soldier who was to replace my father said, "The hell with them, let them come and get us.” Instead of going to the CO (commanding officer), my dad pulled his replacement’s shift in that unbearable snow and almost lost his feet to frostbite.

When I asked my dad why he didn't do something about the soldier’s reply he said, "I knew what he was going through. He was having a hard time dealing with the circumstances.” My father was humble like that; of course he was a Holliman!

When my father got to the hospital in England, his feet where black with frostbite. The good nurses rubbed his feet nonstop with alcohol, relieving each other periodically. My dad made it home and was medically discharged from the Army on August 2, 1945 with a Purple Heart and the European – African – Middle Eastern Campaign Medal. My father was a rifleman in his service to his country.

Later in his life, my dad was the Post Commander at the local VFW in Rockdale, TX. I hope any child who has a father who is, or was, a veteran of any war can admire him as much as I admire my father!

Right, a photo of August Harold Holliman and wife, Betty. They married June 25, 1957.

Next week, we highlight the war service of a distant cousin of Norman's, William Ralph Holliman. Norman and Ralph, who is the youngest son of Ulyss and Pearl Caine Holliman, share a great grandfather, John Grantson Holliman (1850-1836), who fought North Carolina Tories and the British Army in 1780 during the American Revolution. Additional information on Norman and Ralph can be found in our Contributor's page.

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