We lost another good one, a 94year-old veteran, just a couple of days ago. Happening just before Christmas, it was a hard blow to his family. I can't say we were close friends as we only talked maybe two or three times a year for the last dozen years. And he was a generation older than I. But it hit me hard too. He was a good man, cordial, generous, and courteous to all - a gentleman of the old school. Had a wonderful sense of humor, laughing at himself, not at others.
He had served on Guadalcanal 74 years ago in the same year I was born. He was with an artillery battery serving on the gun line. First with 75mm pack howitzers. Later with 105s. Those guns provided direct support for not only Marines but for a North Dakota National Guard Infantry Regiment that he and his battery mates christened the '164th Marines'.
His favorite story was the several weeks they had not much to eat but captured Japanese Army rice. It was a bit moldy, and full of weevils but when he complained to the mess cooks they told him it was good protein and don't waste it, so he ate it and said it wasn't half bad. He laughed even more about that. Once at a gathering after being introduced as a member of the 'greatest generation', he chuckled and told everybody how great his grandsons and granddaughters were. "Head and shoulders above me", he claimed. When we called him a hero, he would laugh and say: Oh hell, "I was just a gun bunny."
He was a hero to our little corner of the world. He will be missed.