My Mom’s three brothers and one of her three sisters served in the Army during World War II (1941-1945). Aunt Betty was a nurse, Uncle Bud, who was a rodeo cowboy, was in the cavalry, Uncle Buck flew close air troop support over Europe and Uncle Bill killed and saw killed way too many men from Anzio to Germany. Mom sent any extra we had, and some not so extra, to support her siblings and their comrades.
My Mom’s Mom’s Mom’s father, my great-great grandfather immigrated with his parents from Bern, Switzerland in 1852 when he was fourteen. His father served as a career soldier in Switzerland for 21 years. They settled in LaGrange, Indiana.
My great-great grandfather, John Giggy, enlisted in Company H, Forty-Fourth Indiana Volunteer Infantry on August 28, 1861. His first major battle was Fort Donalson then he was wounded at Shiloh and sent to the military hospital in Evansville to recover.
After a short furlough he rejoined his regiment in Murfreesboro then at Chickamauga was wounded in the hip on September 19, 1863, after which he walked back to Bridgeport, Alabama using a bed slat for a crutch and having nothing to eat for 3 days but 3 crackers. He was then ordered to the hospital in Nashville before being furloughed again until he rejoined his regiment at Chattanooga on December 31, 1863 (Happy New Year?)
He continued fighting and marching, marching and fighting until mustered out at Indianapolis in October 1865. He became a farmer and a stone mason and fathered 9 children including my great grandmother, Agnes (Giggy) Vulgamore.
Thereafter he simply went about his life without thinking his country owed him anything more than a fair opportunity to raise his family and be left alone.
I never had the chance to meet him but I am confident his toughness helped buy me and my siblings a better life. Thanks to Grandpa, Aunt Betty, my uncles and all the other tough and non-assuming veterans who did their duty so the rest of us could do things they could not have dreamed of.