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65 years ago today...

Friday, March 19

For those of you who know me...
you know my grandfather was my absolute HERO!
He wasn't just my grandfather, he was also the father-figure in my life.
My grandfather had the BEST sense of humor with an infectious laugh.
He appreciated life.
He had a gift for gathering friends and family together.
and he was always finding the good.
I was lucky enough to spend most of my formative years growing up in his house with he and my grandmother.
They were SUCH awesome examples to me.

It's for those reasons,
I couldn't let today go by without acknowledging him...
or rather,
acknowledging just ONE of the significant life-changing events in his life.

It was 65 years ago today...
March 19th 1945.
My grandfather, Charles J. Richardson, Jr. was 21 years of age.
He and his pilot, Eugene J. Tougas, were flying their B52 bomber over the Inland Sea near Kure Harbor, Japan.
It was World War II.
They'd just gotten a direct hit on one of the Japanese aircraft carriers.
The flak from the explosion as well as enemy fire had damaged their aircraft to the point of forcing them to make an emergency water landing.
They survived the impact of the crash and floated in the sea for hours.
After somehow surviving being run over by a Japanese battleship as well as dodging the gunfire as it went by, they were then picked up by a Japanese fishing boat.
They were taken to a nearby village and were beaten & abused by the townspeople until the Japanese military arrived and took possession of them.
He was taken to the P.O.W. camp in Ofuna, Japan
He spent the next 6 months enduring unspeakable amounts of cruelty and abuse.
- Forced to sit cross-legged on a blanket 16 hours a day
- unable to bathe or brush his teeth
- served only 1/2 a teacup of saltwater twice a day with occasional fish heads, tails and scales
- punished with beatings sometimes involving clubs
- medical attention denied
- lice infested and prohibited from removing them

And many other things none of us will EVER have to experience.

He was released when the war ended...September 2nd 1945.
He'd lost over 55lbs. & had developed beri beri due to starvation.
He spent the next 3 months recovering...
and even after all of that...
my grandfather continued to serve in the Navy - later fighting in the Korean War.
He retired from the Navy 20 years later.
(and still continued to work for the Pentagon and other various government institutions).

His example of strength, dedication and loyalty runs deep in my veins.
He is a modern-day hero.
Not just for his service to our country.
But for his service to the love of his life - my grandmother, Dorothy Louisette Richardson.
(That's an entirely different story which deserves a post of it's own).

My grandfather has since passed away.
There REALLY hasn't been a day that has gone by that I've not thought about him.
I miss him terribly.
He was an amazing person, a loving father, a selfless husband and the best grandfather I could have ever wished for.
Everyone that ever met him LOVED him.
I know you would've loved him too...


Swatchbook Weddings said...

Wow - what an amazing man your grandfather was - we are all indebted to him for his service & loyalty. Your post gave me goosebumps, so touching!


Anonymous said...

That is awesome! It is amazing to me what some have gone through for the freedom of others! I wish I could thank him!

Kim - The TomKat Studio said...

WOW, Jess...what an amazing post to honor your grandfather. So brought tears to my eyes.

Moni said...

Wow!!! I never posted here but had to when I read your story. What an amazing man your grandfather was. He's my new hero. You are truly blessed to have known such a man.

Unknown said...

thanks everyone...the post was rushed but i just HAD to post something ON THAT DAY! i'm so glad i could give you just a tiny glimpse into the amazing person he was...hugs!

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