Veteran's Day yesterday had a special meaning, and I would like to offer my personal thanks to ALL veterans, but especially our few remaining World War II vets.
Huntsville had the distinction and honor of sending the most boys to WWII per capita than any other community in America. Many were Hislops, Stokers and other well known Huntsville families. Most of those unsung heros are no longer with us and in fact just a few vets from WWII still live in our town. Guys like Carl DeVries, Preston Jackson and Rex Fuller come to mind. Thanks to you all.
Since many Huntsville residents knew my mother, Bonnie, I will share a story of her brother that has been unfolding the last couple of months and culminated with Veteran's day.
During a trip to Washington DC in August with my son Daxton, we visited the National Archives. After watching the Discovery Channel produced video at the archives, I was prompted to fill in some missing pieces of my mother’s family history. That being the large puzzle piece of my Uncle Bill who was “killed in the war.” That is really all I knew about Bill.
My research over the next few weeks turned out some amazing results, and here is an overview.
On August 17, 1942, just 8 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 222 hand picked Marine Raiders attacked Makin Island. Fifteen Raiders died in combat that day and the US took over the island, but when the two transport submarines returned to Pearl Harbor five days la ter, it was discovered that nine more had been left behind and presumed dead.
In fact, they were very alive and were captured by the Japanese some ten days later, transferred to Kwajalein and imprisoned for nearly two months. In celebration of a Japanese holiday in October, the "Makin 9" were tied, blind folded and marched to an open pit where they were ultimately beheaded with a Samurai sword. Bill Pallesen was one of those nine.
Many aspects of the raid were covered up for decades and my mom died a little over a year ago thinking here brother "died at sea," but instead Brother Bill was an infamous WWII hero who had been all but forgotten.
The very popular video game "Call of Duty: World at War" overviews the "Makin 9."
Thanks for the ultimate sacrifice Uncle Bill. And thanks to all those who have served so my kids and I can be free.