Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 29, 2006 / 2 Sivan, 5766

A veteran's story

By Tom Purcell


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I had no idea who he really was until his life was complete.


I'd met him at an event in 1994. He was 72 then, the father of a friend. He told me he was a retired carpenter.


As we talked, it was clear he loved his wife, his children, his grandchildren. He defined himself by their wellbeing. He knew a peacefulness a man can only know after a life well lived.


In that brief meeting, his spirit inspired me. I hoped to be like him.


Many years passed. I moved to Washington, D.C. and lost touch with my friend. A year ago, after moving back to Pittsburgh, I bumped into him. He told me about his dad.


At 82, his health wasn't good. He'd been battling cancer. In 1997, he'd lost his wife of 49 years, a powerful blow. But he continued to embrace one of his favorite mottos: take life as it comes.


A few months ago, the cancer won. When he learned he had only weeks to live, his response was telling. He was calm. He said he'd had a much longer run than he expected.


He'd fought in World War II, after all — fought in four invasions. He described the terror he felt wading onto the beaches of Sicily, while gunners tried to mow him down.


While driving a truck with 3 tons of munitions along the sand, he spotted a German fighter pilot. He jumped behind his 50 caliber machine gun and fired. He hit the plane — he saw its window shatter — but the German managed to drop the bomb.


It was headed right at him. When it detonated, he knew, it would ignite the munitions he was hauling. The explosion would be spectacular. He didn't panic — didn't yell or scream. He thought only of his mother, agonizing over the pain she would know when she learned her son had died.


But the bomb was a dud. Recounting the story years later, he laughed at how it soaked him when it hit the surf. He laughed at how he'd survived his first scrape with death.

Donate to JWR


He fought in three other invasions. In one, he took shrapnel to the back of his knee. He plucked out the hot metal and kept moving.


On the way to another, a truck mount broke. His leg was pinned against a hillside by a cannon, crushing his knee, an injury that would nag him the rest of his life.


At one point, he was put in charge of a prison camp. Escape attempts were common. German prisoners routinely slit the throats of their captors in the process.


But he'd treated his prisoners with dignity — even offering them cigarettes. They were all in the same boat, after all, just happy to be alive. While off-duty sleeping one night, one German escaped. The German chose to treat him with dignity, too, sparing his life.


After cheating death during the war, he dove head first into life. He resumed work as a carpenter, while studying engineering at night. He married, bought a home, started a family.


He was just getting warmed up.


In time, he rose through the ranks in his union, the Carpenter's District Council of Western Pennsylvania. He became its leader, improving working conditions and pay. He established pension funds. He fought for the dignity of thousands of tradesmen.


He won the respect of many. He befriended business leaders, congressman and senators (as a labor leader, he boldly endorsed a Republican candidate, Sen. H. John Heinz). He supported charities and was invited to sit on boards.


Like so many World War II veterans, he never spoke much about his experiences and accomplishments. It wasn't until he died that the remarkable details of his story finally began to emerge.


He was Robert P Argentine, a man who left the world a much better place than he'd found it. His spirit still inspires me — I still hope to be like him.


Like I said, I had no idea who he really was until his life was complete.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR Contributor Tom Purcell's column, by clicking here. To visit his web site, click here.


ARCHIVES

© 2006, Tom Purcell

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles