HE WOULD NEVER  
TALK ABOUT IT 
_________________
Don Abbott

 

Something I've been meaning to address, and probably will not do well, is one of the statements I keep hearing over and over: "My (fill in the blank) was in the 503rd, and jumped on Corregidor. He would never talk about it".

I think that is pure Bull ..... For any number of reasons he might not seem to talk about it. Maybe when he came home he talked about it until all his relatives got so bored at hearing the same old stories they shut him up. For example, I remember a case a long time ago while a father and I were talking about service days and his son said "Oh, that Old War!" That was during Vietnam and talking war experiences was not popular and besides it was an Old War.

The implication of the "he would never talk about it" was that the experience was so horrible he couldn't talk about it. Not many of our men were that sensitive, believe me. Seeing a friend killed in the tropics and so soon bloated with maggots you couldn't recognize him is not exactly a dinner time topic. There may have been a few experiences men would not discuss, but not many. 

Then maybe the man's position was one he was not proud of or he did not actually participate. Service Company, for example, was brought onto Corregidor a day or so after the assault jumps or the amphibious landings. They provided an important service but no combat function. My friend Sam Smith went from CO of "E" Company to CO of Service Company where they put him in charge of emptying the stockade and taking the inmates on the Island as work details. Do you suppose Sam was proud of that?

Some people are just not very good story tellers. Their verbal skills stand in the way of "talking about it". Some of the most interesting stories probably could, and would, we told if they could get their story in, while a more forceful person was hogging the stage with an uninteresting story. 

Some men may have lied a bit about their experiences and trapped themselves in statements they would like to distance themselves from. Toward the end of Negros, when the fighting was pretty much behind us, the 503rd got a lot of replacements. These men, through no fault of theirs, saw no combat. A number of these will show up at the reunions and skirt around describing their combat experiences. They would have been in the middle of things if they had been brought in a few months earlier.

So, every time we get the "he would never talk about it," I wonder why.

 

THE AUTHOR WAS A LT. IN "D" CO. (NADZAB, NOEMFOOR), THE EXECUTIVE OFFICER IN "E" CO. (CORREGIDOR) AND COMPANY COMMANDER OF "A" CO. (NEGROS)  Don Abbott

4Francis O'Neill, Don Abbott, Gen. Wayne Downing, Ed Pater, Henry "Hoot" Gibson & Robert "Cracker" Atkins all talking about it. 

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