Our Blood is Red


During World War II, I was just a boy. The atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki when I was thirteen years old. As devastating and hurtful as the bombs were, I was glad that President Truman decided to use them.

I have been to Japan a few times and I’ve seen some of the fortifications they had in place to stop an invasion. Every person in Japan was expected to protect the country and I knew they would.

My brother was in the Pacific and had already participated in the invasion of Okinawa where many thousands of Marines and Soldiers and Sailors were killed. The kamikazes sank almost 400 ships. My brother was a sailor and I was worried.

Through the war, I had watched the blue stars appear in the windows of our neighborhood. Some turned to gold, others to silver, others to bronze.

Two gold star windows in our neighborhood where at the Broderick and McDaniel homes.

Virgil Broderick and Orville McDaniel were proficient skiers. They joined the army and were posted at Camp Carson, Colorado. They quickly became sergeants, Virgil in the infantry ski troopers and Orville in Pack Artillery.

When these two young men died in Italy while serving with the Tenth Infantry Division, a pall fell over the west side of Salt Lake City. The families still mourn to this day.

So do I.

In Korea I was looking at a dead G.I., a young man from Kansas who had been killed by concussion from a mortar round that fell near him the night before. He was in B-Company of the 17th Regimental Combat Team serving in company headquarters.

The Company Commander was very sad to see this young man die. I borrowed some equipment that I needed and the young man would not be using. I thought how sad his family would be in Kansas when Soldiers would appear at their door.

The night he was killed was a bad night for all of us as our own artillery blasted us three times. We lost three men in D-Company, the heavy weapons company.

My radioman was blown off the trail but was not hurt.

Our regiment lost almost 1000 men in Korea and we lost many Korean young men who were assigned to our regiment.

Now, we watch young men and women die every day in Iraq and Afghanistan (just as we watched young men die in Vietnam). These young men and women are attempting to destroy terrorism before it claims more Americans here at home. As those in all of America’s wars, they fight bravely for our flag.

That was one thing that really amazed me in Korea, the bravery of certain young men.

My friend, Avery Dieter told me about a machine gun sergeant who had served in our company. I wrote a poem about him some years back. Here it is:

Machine Gun Sergeant

Written Saturday, April 2, 1999

Below the Wachon Reservoir,

We walked along the river,

And then across the fields.

Dieter said, “This is where

The air force caught the Chinese

With there carts and horses.

“That’s the hill

Where the machine-gun sergeant

Climbed to help his men.

He was supposed to

Go home that day,

Not a war to win.

“He said,

‘I know I don’t have to fight,

I can stay back here and watch,

But my men are scared,

And their sergeant is new,

I’ll lead them one more time.'”

Dieter lowered his head

And then he said,

“The fire was very heavy.

They took the hill

That bloody day,

But the sergeant never made it.”

We found a house

Still intact.

We were very much surprised.

An octagon with a center patio,

Where a family

Once cooked their meals.

This must have been

A happy place

Before the armies came.

Little children

At mother’s knee,

An abundant life they had.

Dieter said,

“He has two kids.”

I said,

“I thought him dead.”

I looked at Probe,

His familiar name,

I said,

“Please tell me more.”

I saw a tear run down his cheek,

It wasn’t there before.

The sky was clear,

A glorious day,

And we walked the fields some more.

We found a can from Russia,

And Kowalski read the label.

“I know the town

Where this was made,

I know who made this ammo.”

I looked at Probe,

He looked at me,

And this is what he said,

“The machine-gun sergeant

Was hit in the groin,

He said, ‘I’d be better dead.'”

No workers toiled

In the beautiful fields,

The war had done its dirt.

I wondered where the families were,

Were they dead

Or hurt?


We go back on the line,

To Heartbreak Ridge they say.

I looked at Probe

And this I said,

“At least we’ve got today.”

The sergeant

Didn’t have to fight.

He’d done his job well,

But he climbed the hill,

And was maimed for life,

How could he think so ill?

When it’s time to go home,

It’s time to go,

To play with fate is bad.

“He’s the bravest man I know,”

Said Probe,

“He did it to be right.”

I said, “What about his

Wife and kids,

What about their plight?”

“He had no choice,”

Said Probe,

“He had to fight.”

We walked along

The dusty road

That led us back to camp.

I thought,

How brave he was!

I think of him a lot.

I know many first hand stories about our brave service men and women. Many of these that did not die have been suffering for years from their service injuries. Not all the injuries are from combat, but they suffer just the same.

A lady in our area served as a marine. Her name is Joanna. Her back injury was not caused during combat, but she has been in and out of veteran hospitals for years. She can walk at times with a walker or crutches. She feeds her horse, and her cows, and her goats, and her chickens and ducks and peafowls as if she were not injured. Sometimes she crawls to do it. She is still brave. You might say, “She is one tough cookie.”

She is one tough cookie who is often in a wheelchair.

The red in our flag is for the blood of our military heroes. I fly a flag in my front yard every day of the year if the weather permits. When I put it up or take it down, I want to solute it. I would if the neighbors wouldn’t think that I was crazy.

I used to watch a veteran of World War II get out in the middle of the rode near the Union Pacific Railroad depot in Salt Lake City and direct traffic as if it were a military convoy.

He would solute imaginary officers as he moved from bar to bar looking for a free drink.

He was still on the battlefield and could not escape.

I think of him just as I think of Orville, and Virgil, and the brave machine gun sergeant.

Do you fly the flag?

The End