Wednesday, 9 December 2015

"There were giants in those days". Meeting a 94 years old member of "The Greatest Generation"


On the anniversary of D-Day in 1994 we, at St. Stephen's Parish in Pittsfield, MA, honoured those who had served in the U.S. Armed Forces in WWII.

We spoke well of them at the 10:00 Eucharist, and then had a lunch, hosted by the Youth Group.  We set out tables for four, at which sat two WWII vets with  spouses  and two youth group members.

There were maybe eight or ten Veterans of World War II,  at least three of them who were recipients of the Purple Heart.

In September 1994 my youngest brother Martyn and I (together with Martyn's wife Wendy and their daughter Laura) took our Mum to Normandy, there to visit the grave of her youngest brother Albert who was killed in that conflict.

We stood in silence at Uncle Albert's grave in the Commonwealth Graves Commission Cemetery in Bayeux,  France.

Our step-father Len was with us.   We took him to Arrromanches, where as an eighteen year old he had had landed some time after D-Day.


On the anniversary of D-Day in 2004 we honoured members of  "The Greatest Generation" at St. James's in Cambridge.  By then the ranks were diminished.

One of them, Ken Holmes, had been a member of an African-American Regiment which fought with great distinction in Italy.

see  http://www.historynet.com/african-american-92nd-infantry-division-fought-in-italy-during-world-war-ii.htm


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TODAY (9th December 2015) I met a 94 year old member of  "The Greatest Generation".    His name is Sigvard (Sig) Johnson.

Siggie is from Finland.

In 1939 he was a purser on on a Finnish/American line ship which docked in New York City.  He had read "the signs of the times"  (i,e, N-zi expansionism)  so he jumped ship in New York.

Without papers  (yes he was an illegal immigrant) his path led him through a job in NYC, then to Westerley, R.I., then to a farm in Connecticut, and finally back to NYC.

Back in NYC he (by happenstance) met an immigration lawyer who was able to regularize his immigrant  status, as a result of which he was able to enlist in the U.S. Army.

Sig was assigned to the 99th Infantry Battalion  (Sep) of the 10th Mountain Division.


(See) http://www.99battalion.org (and)  http://www.na-weekly.com/heritage/the-vikings-of-world-war-ii/

SIGVARD (Sig) JOHNSON fought with distinction in the 99th Infantry Battalion.  SO MUCH SO that he was honoured by the Norwegian Government with a WWII medal.

You can see his picture at    http://www.na-weekly.com/heritage/the-vikings-of-world-war-ii/ under the heading on NORWEGIAN WWII MEDAL

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Next Wednesday Sig will travel from Sarasota FL to Naples FL, there, at the French Consulate, to be awarded the highest of French awards, "The Legion of Honor".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legion_of_Honour

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The Greatest Generation.

So few of these men and women left.

I am grateful that I met one of them today, the 94 years old Finnish born Sigvard Johnson.


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