Thursday, March 31, 2011

soldiers, cowboys, and such

last week, i had the opportunity to talk to my grandpa johansen for awhile. well, i was mostly listening! i got to hear lots of wonderful true stories about his life. my grandpa served in the army during the korean war, and he told me a lot about his experience in the army. here are a couple of things i learned:

1. at basic training (boot camp), they had all sorts of crazy rules: they had to lace their boots criss-cross on even days, and straight across on odd days, they had to wear certain ties wtih certain shirts on certain days, have their closets and foot lockers lined up in perfect order, and their shirts that were hung up had to be buttoned up all the way. i also remember him saying on another occasion that they had to make their beds with the sheets pulled so tightly that a quarter could bounce on their beds! he said that although some of the rules seemed unimportant, they all served the purpose of training the guys to take orders from their superiors, so when they ended up in combat, they would respond quickly to orders that would save their lives.

2. the guys who rebelled and didn't want to follow all the rules ended up with "kp" duty (kitchen patrol), or had to clean the barracks, instead of having weekends free to go to town or go home. from listening to the stories, i can tell that my grandpa was the type of person who obeyed orders--he said that if you obeyed orders, they pretty much left you alone, so he apparently never rocked the boat.

3. he told me about learning hand-to-hand combat and knife fighting from an indian who had served in the vietnam war, and that they had to learn how to operate all the different types of guns, as well as take apart and put back together their m16s blindfolded, so if their guns jammed at night in combat, they would be able to fix it.

4. when he was in korea, he tripped two land mines, and neither one of them exploded! he was definitely watched over. it blows my mind to think about what would have happened had he not come back from korea--my dad would never have been born, or any of his siblings, or their children, or ME and my sisters. well, i've always thought about what would have happened had my mom married someone else--would i still have been sent to her? how would i have been different with a different dad? food for thought.

after talking for awhile, my grandpa was trying unsuccessfully to find a western on tv to watch, so i turned on "rio lobo" for him, and sat down to watch it with him. my dad also came in to watch it with us. watching the movie with them, i remembered something about growing up: i would always watch westerns with my dad, which is why i have a fondness for john wayne and "lonesome dove" (the greatest western ever made, according to my dad). i think my always watching westerns explains one difference between my sister jessi and i: she has an almost zero tolerance of violence in movies, so when we watch movies together she will think something is really shocking and it won't phase me as much. i'm not saying that really gross stuff doesn't bother me, or that i'm proud of being more desensitized to violence, it is merely an observation. i can pretty much peg it back to john wayne. i might not have played cowboys and indians as a child, but i certainly watched them!

1 comment:

jessica renae said...

i LOVE this! i've never heard grandpa talk about the war or any of that, and i've always wanted to. this could be the start to a really unique essay, you know... i liked where your thoughts were going. from grandpa, to war, to watching westerns, to dad, etc.
expansion? :)