Veterans of WWI

Even though I wasn’t born yet, WWI was rather close.  How about a different side of those times I doubt that you’ve learned.  My father served in WWI — for the Czar of Russia.  He was stationed in Siberia on the Amur River.  The city they visited was on the other side of the river, in China.  He crossed over one evening and never went back shortly before Lenin took over Russia.  When we were in our early teens, my father brought home a used stack of duplicated pictures of WWI trenches, bodies, artillery guns, etc., and a viewer to hold the pictures.  They looked like you were there as the views became three dimensional.  I served in WWII & Korea and in Chine.  When the war ended, our fighter squadron was moved to Shanghai.  I located the daughter of the family who worked in the underground and helped my father get passage to San Francisco.  He got as far as California on his way back to Europe.  WWI ended just before he got drafted in the U.S. Army.

For a trained combat pilot, I never saw combat.  I could write a book on the cracks there are to fall through — both in WWII and Korea.  I was called back to active duty in 1950, and told we’d be in Korea in 90 days, I ended up in France a year and a half later.  During that time, I was put on alert to go to Korea, and never got any orders.  If the book gets written, I’ll title it, “The Fickle Finger of Faith”.  She works both ways, as I’m sure you’ve heard.

I write to let you know that what American soldiers fought and died for isn’t going to get lost without another fight.  As one veteran to others, thank you for looking after the WWI vets!

Toby Elster


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