Monday, May 26, 2014

What A Hero Is to Me

Remembering my grandfather on Memorial Day

by Larry Simons
May 26, 2014

It has been 69 years since my grandfather, Laverne Isaac "Ike" Brendle, served in the United States Marine Corps. He served from 1943-1945. In 1944, he served as part of a Marine Detachment Unit [7th division] aboard the USS Astoria CL-90 [pictured below].

His service ribbons include American Theater, Asiatic-Pacific Theater with four bronze service stars, and Philippine Liberation ribbon with one star. He served aboard USS ASTORIA CL-90 from her shakedown cruise [June 20, 1944] through the end of the war. His Pacific service included the liberation of the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa operations. Here is his dogtag and service ribbons:

My grandfather was a "plankowner" of the USS Astoria CL-90, meaning he had reported aboard the ship on or before May 17, 1944 [the date the ship was commissioned]. Plankowners were recognized by the U.S. Navy as original crew members of the ship, and they were issued Plankowner's certificates. [My grandfather's is below]

Grandpa also was one of the art directors of the ships newspaper. His name is listed in the column of art directors of the first anniversary edition of the newspaper. [click to enlarge - below]

Grandpa also kept a diary aboard ship, which was strictly forbidden. In a few of the pages, grandpa writes about the news of the deaths of FDR and Hitler. [below]

Here, Grandpa writes, "Got the news of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt's death. Every body was pretty shocked and no one said much about it."

About Hitler, Grandpa writes, "We hear that Hitler is dead----I hope it's true and that this d--n war is soon secured."

This is what kind of man my grandfather was. Even in the midst of war and the possibility of being fired at by Japanese planes or kamikazes plunging their planes into his ship, he didn't use profanity. He actually wrote "d--n" in the diary instead of just saying "damn".

It was not only grandpa's military career that made him great. It was his love of life, family and his country that truly defined him. He had a talent and love for art that could not be surpassed. He owned his own arts and craft store after the war. Everyone that knew grandpa liked him, and his late wife [my grandmother] never spoke one unpleasant word about him.

Grandpa died on August 27, 1955 at the age of 36. He suffered from myelogenous leukemia. He was a part of and a witness to history and he will never be forgotten. It matters not that he will never be mentioned on a World War II documentary or that he was never famous. When I think of heroes, I think of my grandfather.

Here are a few more pictures of grandpa

Grandpa outside of his store in the early 1950's

Grandpa with his son Tommy [my uncle]

I have posted this one before. This is grandpa on the USS Astoria on August 6, 1945, the very day of the bombing of Hiroshima. In fact, he is holding a teletype dispatch announcing that the bomb has been dropped

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