|World War II veteran Rex Calvert was 97 when he died June 11, 2020. His oral history is one of our most descriptive narrations about the ravages of war. He fought in four WWII battles with the Fourth Marine Division. Rex, along with his comrades, fought off the Japanese shellings from Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, and Rex saw the American flag raised atop the mountain as hundreds of marines celebrated the moment. He dodged death many times but was hit by enemy fire on Saipan, which earned him the Purple Heart.
Rex talking about some fellow Marines in battle:
“These people were what we called cracked up. They were out of their noodle lying on the ground crying. They were out of their head. They didn’t know what they were doing. And, with a lot of pride, I didn’t want to do that. So I tried my best to take on the attitude that I could stand it and that I could make it. I had too much pride to cry. I was a Marine. Anyway, you get through as best as you can. A doctor once asked me, “How do you stand that?” I said, “Well, you know, an ambulance driver gets used to it.” He just shook his head. Anyway, we finished that island and they took us off of it.”
Beginning with Chapter 6, you will hear graphic descriptions of war, leading to Chapter 14: “Emotional Scars”, which he carried with him to the end. Listen here.