Light Notes

Horrors of war went untold by my late father-in-law

The military medals are positioned next to each other in quiet display.

The Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and other ribbon-held medallions represent conflicts fought in World War II. Together they tell a story in silence — one that was never told.

“I wish I would have talked to my dad about the war,” my husband, Bill, lamented as he replaced the bulb in the lighted cabinet. “But to him it was a closed subject ... and now it’s too late.”

An aged photo of a young father in U.S. Army uniform caught my eye where it leaned against the framed medals on the glass shelf. A few yellowed letters to home and other war memorabilia rested nearby. All had found their way to the eldest son, now the keeper of a quiet hero’s legacy.

There was so much Benjamin Franklin Luginbill never said about his service with the 1st Cavalry Division as he fought valiantly in the Pacific Theater. But the book that sat on his library shelf for years, The 1st Cavalry Division in World War II compiled by Major B.C. Wright, tells a graphic story of our American soldiers in New Guinea, the Admiralty Islands and the Philippines.

Side by side they routed the enemy, worked to dodge their angry fire in rough jungle terrain and painfully held the hand of dying friends. The Japanese were the enemy as well as the constant rain, mosquitoes and mud — always the mud.

At times when circumstances allowed, a letter home was hurriedly written and without complaint. The only worry Benjamin expressed to his wife, Beth, was about her facing the demands of motherhood alone, two very young sons at her side. Intentionally, his words hid the horror of war and merely told how much her loving letters meant, some that included black and white images of his young family.

When this weary and brave soldier returned stateside from the front lines in late 1945, the agony, the hardship and the terror he experienced stayed behind. A chapter in his life was closed.

But on Veterans Day it feels like the right time to reopen the past, to thank Bill’s dad — and countless others — for courage, sacrifice and love for our country.

We only wish this quiet hero were still here to tell the story.

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