As my friends know and those of you who have been following my newsletter for a time may recall: I am an advocate for our military. I admire the service these brave men and women have given our country and want to make sure that they are compensated for injuries when possible. That's why I have been working on the 3M lawsuit surrounding faulty hearing protection.
A month or so back I shared about Hometown Heroes, including my dad, who were featured in a book about the Hempstead County World War II soldiers.
Today, I want to share another hero of mine, my uncle Bill Tolleson. Uncle Bill didn't speak about the war when we were growing up. It was too painful for his wife, and she just didn't like him to reminisce about it. But after my aunt passed and his children were older, Uncle Bill, little by little, began to tell the stories about his time as a soldier. I'm fortunate that my first cousin, Tom, put pen to paper and wrote out Uncle Bill's tales.
He was just a young man of 18, in his first year of college, when he was approached by a recruiter to enlist. The promise of educational benefits and a salary greater than he could make working at home mowing lawns was tempting to Bill. There are so many interesting details to Bill's soldier story. In fact, it's an enjoyable read so I'll share it through the button below, but I wanted to relay one slightly humorous antidote that occurred during the latter part of the war which reminds us of the stress these young men were under; there was literally danger around every corner, a fact not lost on Uncle Bill during a night on guard duty:
Someone approached unannounced in the dark of night. "Halt! Who goes there," Tolleson raised his weapon. There was no answer but there was movement in the shadows. Tolleson repeated with a little more serious tone. Still there was movement but no acknowledgment. Tolleson threw the bolt and prepared to fire. A large shape lumbered into view. Then Tolleson saw his foe, a draft horse possibly escaped from the doomed convoy, ambled up and nudged his shoulder hoping for a sugar cube or something.
Uncle Bill ended up working with the 2nd 4.2 Chemical Mortar Battalion. In his document, my cousin writes that America's bombing of Japan effectively ended the combat portion of Bill's service but he was one of the soldiers who stayed on to guard and clean up a Sarin nerve gas facility in Munich. During the war, it seems, the Germans had stockpiled chemical weapons that could be used. No one used chemical weapons during WWII, but they had them just in case they needed them. According to the Tom's document, "The guards would oversee the German technicians dismantling the explosives from the gas canisters. Then they would detonate the explosives and load the gas canisters onto rail cars. They were told that the rail cars were then loaded onto dilapidated ships, which were then sunk in the deep ocean." My cousin observes that this would make a fascinating Hollywood movie.
And to all of you who are serving or have served, like my Uncle Bill, my dad, and so many other dear family and friends, you have my gratitude and that of all of us at the Jackson Law Firm.