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A Great Man Died Today
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Posting Junkie
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Jan 29, 2014, 04:47 PM
 
I apologize in advance for the personal post, and I hope I'm not breaching decorum by doing so, but my grandfather passed away today, and I just wanted to share a little bit about him.



He was raised on a farm in Athens, Texas, and entered himself into service during World War II. Hearing that he would earn $50 more per month by volunteering as a paratrooper, he quickly signed up so he would have more money to send home to keep their struggling family afloat.

He served in the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion (GOYA), and was shot three times during the war, each time in a different country.

The first time he was shot, he was sustained by a French family who hid him in their barn for three nights, nursing the gunshot wound to his hip until he was rescued and taken to a U.S. hospital ship. They asked him if he was Catholic, but he was unable to answer, so they assumed he was, read him his last rites and prepared him for the likely possibility that he wouldn't survive another night.

The second time they were trapped by a German tank that had appeared out of the woods in Belgium, which killed everyone in my grandfather's vicinity except him. He had taken a bullet in the arm from a machine gunner set up near the forest, and he stayed prone, facedown in the snow. After several minutes of hearing his friends picked off, he prayed, “Jesus, if you'll allow me to live, I vow to do anything You ever ask me to do.” At that time, the tank suddenly turned and rumbled away.

The third time, he was shot in Germany by a sniper who fired as he dove into a ditch, blowing a massive hole through his ankle, leaving him hobbled for the rest of his life.

When he arrived home, he married his sweetheart, kept his promise to God by starting a church, and fathered five sons. Today, four of them are pastors (one of them is the "Dean" in one of Christian music's best-selling groups).

He pastored a church in Killeen, Texas for over twenty years. His church was unusual for Central Texas because he was a Caucasian man pastoring a church that was over 90% African-American, which helped his family from falling into the prevalent prejudice mindset of the Deep South.

He brought a smile the face of every person who ventured near him. He cared for every person he ever encountered, never giving heed to social status, race, political leanings, or past. No one loved to laugh more than my grandfather. He Emailed us all several times a week, preaching mini-sermons and bragging about how proud he was of his family.

This morning, he died at the age of 92, succumbing to sickness related to his third bout with cancer. He leaves behind 16 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. The man was a survivor, and I'm trying to share a little bit about him everywhere that I can.

Thanks for reading.

( Last edited by Jawbone54; Jan 31, 2014 at 10:57 AM. )
     
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Jan 29, 2014, 05:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
(one of them is the "Dean" in one of Christian music's best-selling groups).
Say hi to Phillips and Craig for me!
     
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Jan 29, 2014, 06:05 PM
 
Amazing story of survival and a life well lived. My condolences Jawbone.
     
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Jan 29, 2014, 08:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Say hi to Phillips and Craig for me!
Ha

Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Amazing story of survival and a life well lived. My condolences Jawbone.
Thanks much. It's amazing how many of that incredible generation falls through the cracks of time.
     
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Jan 29, 2014, 08:23 PM
 
My sympathies to your and your family. Central Texas is an odd sort of place; your grandfather may have been in a unique position as pastor, but unique is more common here than most people realize.

My late father-in-law was in the 504th Parachute Battalion of the 82nd during WWII. The 82nd was instrumental in the Allied victory in the European Theater of Operations, perhaps moreso than any other specific division. Thank you for your grandfather's contributions to that effort, and his service in general.

Again, my condolences.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Jan 30, 2014, 05:44 PM
 
Jawbone, truly you must be proud to be of such lineage. Sounds like you guys are pretty hard to kill . In all seriousness, my thoughts and prayers are with your family as you celebrate the life of a true American hero.
     
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Jan 30, 2014, 07:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
My sympathies to your and your family. Central Texas is an odd sort of place; your grandfather may have been in a unique position as pastor, but unique is more common here than most people realize.

My late father-in-law was in the 504th Parachute Battalion of the 82nd during WWII. The 82nd was instrumental in the Allied victory in the European Theater of Operations, perhaps moreso than any other specific division. Thank you for your grandfather's contributions to that effort, and his service in general.

Again, my condolences.
Many thanks. I love hearing the stories from all those guys, though now it's mostly through video interviews and documentaries, since so few are left.

He told me that most of those guys who signed up as paratroopers had never flown in a plane before, so the vast majority actually jumped from planes at least ten times before ever landing in one.

Quick funny story: on his 77th birthday, he went missing for about ten hours, which sent my grandmother into panic mode. She called the cops, reported him missing, and called all the sons to travel back home because she assumed the worst. When he walked back through the front door, he revealed that he had sneaked away and went skydiving, but didn't tell her beforehand because he knew she would have refused.

She nearly killed him, but the pictures from that day are awesome. He jumped once more at age 78 (this time with permission), just because he couldn't get it out of his blood.

Originally Posted by Snow-i View Post
Jawbone, truly you must be proud to be of such lineage. Sounds like you guys are pretty hard to kill .

In all seriousness, my thoughts and prayers are with your family as you celebrate the life of a true American hero.
Thank ya. It's hard to feel too upset about only lasting 92 years, but the good side of funerals is that they become a family reunion afterwards. Going to be a good day.
     
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Jan 30, 2014, 08:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
I apologize in advance for the personal post, and I hope I'm not breaching decorum by doing so, but my grandfather passed away today, and I just wanted to share a little bit about him.
Hey, what's a forum for anyway? Thanks for sharing his story. Celebrate his life and the life that he gave to others!
He can be fixed -- you can't.
     
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Jan 31, 2014, 08:02 AM
 
Thoughts are with you and the family Jawbone. Sounds like a true hero to me.
     
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Jan 31, 2014, 10:25 AM
 
My prayers are with you and your family, Jawbone, and a salute to the greatest generation - one that saved and built this country.
"Faster, faster! 'Till the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death." - HST
     
   
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