Happy D-Day, Awesome Veteran Granddad Guy! And To All You Other Ones Too

Bernard Jordan, ex-mayor of the town of Hove in England.

Bernard Jordan, ex-mayor of the town of Hove in England.

If you enjoy having deep, loving feelings about people you’ve never met, check out this tale of the WWII veteran who was lost (and found) in Europe this week:

An 89-year-old veteran who went missing from his retirement home in Sussex, England yesterday morning has been located: He showed up today on the beachhead of Normandy, medals pinned to his coat, to take in the anniversary celebration of the D-Day invasion.

It seems former Hove, England town mayor Bernard Jordan just wanted to celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day (check out Wonkette’s hilarious post if you want to know how FOX News would’ve covered the original D-Day.) So why not get on a bus to France, meet up with a younger vet, split a hotel room, and go to the beach? Hell, when you’re 89, you probably don’t worry about things like “letting everyone know where you’re going.” Because fuck it, you survived a war and more, and when you want to go on vacation, you’re going the hell on vacation.

This story reminded me of my own grandfather, Joseph, who was not at D-Day but who served in WWII. He hated war and what he called “the military mindset,” but he was proud to be a veteran of WWII. He served with the 15th Air Force, 461st Bomb Group, 766 Bomb Squadron. He completed 50 missions as an engineer/waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber. During the latter part of his service, his squadron was escorted by the Tuskegee Airmen, a privilege he valued for a few reasons, not the least was the fact that they could save his ass from being shot down by the enemy. He won a bunch of medals including a Presidential Citation for a raid on the most heavily guarded fortress, the Ploesti oil fields in Romania. (IMPORTANT FACT: one of the planes he flew was called the Urgin’ Virgin and had a hot pinup babe painted on the side.) Then he came home, worked as a shop teacher and a high school principal, helped raise four kids, and got into golf in retirement.

He loved Art Buchwald, and I started reading political humor when I was a wee tot because of him. He used to argue with my dad about politics, and they’d watch early episodes of “Crossfire” on CNN while I sat nearby. He despised segregation. During the Vietnam War, he wore a peace button around the high school where he worked. He was an early adopter of technology, especially when it came to the Internet — he had AOL before anybody I knew, and he kept it long after anybody I knew.

Here’s a photo of him in his bomber jacket. He was born a few years before Bernard Jordan, but they’re around the same age in their respective soldier photos:

Happy D-Day, Awesome Veteran Granddad Guy! And To All You Other Ones Too

And here he is with me last year. He was 89 years old at the time. I taught him how to take a selfie, because how else would you bond with your grandfather? He thought it was amazing. He looked at it and said, “Wow. That is something!” and chuckled in delight.

Pop Pop selfie

I only ever heard him say one bad thing about anyone besides a Republican president or FOX News, and it was a few months before he died. He hated war. I wanted to know if he hated the enemy, too. He was a lifelong liberal Democrat who believed priests in the Catholic Church should be married, women should be ordained, and gays and lesbians should be able to get hitched if they wanted to. I found it hard to believe he might have hate in his heart, but if he did hate anyone, surely it’d be the Nazis.

I asked him, “Pop-Pop, what did you think of the Nazis?”

He thought for a moment and said, “Well, we had no use for them.”

That was serious shit-talking from my grandfather.

He died in November in the house he built for his family. He was 90.

Enjoy the hell out of today, Bernard Jordan. Joe Donnelly would want you to.

 

 

He was a veteran of WWII, serving with the 15th Air Force, 461st Bomb Group, 766 Bomb Squadron and completed 50 missions as an engineer/waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber. He was the recipient of numerous medals including a Presidential Citation for a raid on the most heavily guarded fortress, the Ploesti oil fields in Romania. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/mycentraljersey/obituary.aspx?pid=168146444#sthash.DxmVWv72.dpuf
He was a veteran of WWII, serving with the 15th Air Force, 461st Bomb Group, 766 Bomb Squadron and completed 50 missions as an engineer/waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber. He was the recipient of numerous medals including a Presidential Citation for a raid on the most heavily guarded fortress, the Ploesti oil fields in Romania. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/mycentraljersey/obituary.aspx?pid=168146444#sthash.DxmVWv72.dpuf
He was a veteran of WWII, serving with the 15th Air Force, 461st Bomb Group, 766 Bomb Squadron and completed 50 missions as an engineer/waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber. He was the recipient of numerous medals including a Presidential Citation for a raid on the most heavily guarded fortress, the Ploesti oil fields in Romania. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/mycentraljersey/obituary.aspx?pid=168146444#sthash.DxmVWv72.dpuf

You may also like...

  • BMW

    Awwww(not sarcasm)

    • sarabenincasa

      This post was deleted.

  • andreamd

    Thank you for sharing his story!

    • sarabenincasa

      Thank YOU for reading it!

  • George Cleveland

    You’re grandpa sounds like an amazing man.

    • sarabenincasa

      He was a cool dude.

  • damanoid

    Grandpa was one sharp-looking roguish fellow in his bomber jacket and tousled hair, wasn’t he. Quite the catch for Grandma, if it is appropriate to allude hypothetically to the amorous/erotic proclivities of another person’s grandparents.

    • sarabenincasa

      It is. Oh, it is.

  • Jan Ness

    Really nice story…

  • William

    Darn it! I was reading your story and it got all kinds of dusty in here. Anyways, wonderful story and congrats on the editor gig.

    • sarabenincasa

      Thank you William!

  • Dragoon21b

    Makes me think of my Grandfather who passed away a year ago at 91. He was a career Navy man. He was at Pearl Harbor and served through both WWII and Korea but for all of that (or maybe more because of it) he hated and despised wars. He had a deep respect for life and understood that sometimes war is necessary but that it is paid for not so much in dollars but in the lives of real living people. I learned a lot from him.

    • sarabenincasa

      Our grandfathers would’ve been bros.

  • Jus_Wonderin

    Your Pop was cutie then and in the present. Thanks for sharing!

  • Maureen Damian

    My godfather also flew in the raid on Ploesti. He considered the rest of his life a gift, because so many didn’t make it back.

    • sarabenincasa

      Oh wow! That is amazing!

      • Maureen Damian

        His name was also Joe. Joe Walker.

  • gullywompr

    My grandfather was an Army Air Corps doctor who served in the Pacific. He said his squadron turned over three time due to attrition. Unlike y’all’s lovable old Pa Pa’s, mine hated people, taught me to repeat horrible racist jokes as a small child, and left his not-inconsiderable wealth to another woman. I miss him a lot.

  • unclejeems

    Kudos to Mr. Jordan, your grandpa and the rest of the Greatest Generation. I say without the slightest exaggeration that we’ll never see their like again.

  • doktorzoom

    Jesus that was sweet. And tonight I’ll raise a glass to my adoptive dad, Milton O. [Zoom], who at 42 on Pearl Harbor day was a bit old to go overseas, but managed an office in the Quartermaster Corps and made stuff go where it needed to. What I wouldn’t give to have his old “Ike” jacket.

  • Jaime Oria

    Your gramps – and his fellow fliers – certainly earned their medals over Ploesti. Operation TIDAL WAVE was intended as a low level attack; here’s how low –

  • Enfant Terrible

    I love, love, love that picture of your granddad as a young man and the picture of you and your granddad.And the story of Bernard Jordan set the tone, besides being worth repeating. He still has the same moxie that got him on to that beach in Normandy and then got him off it. He did something BIG that day, as did thousands of his peers. That’s why we call them “The Greatest Generation”.

  • Spurning Beer

    That was sweet, Sara. My own grandfather was a machine gunner in WWI, and spent much of the 1920s and 1930s unemployed and suicidal, and I suspect alcoholic. War can bring out the best in people, but it also cripples some. I remember them today, too.

  • M H

    This is genuine Happy Nice Time and it makes me want to cry. Bless you.

  • NoNotThatOne

    Sara, you grandfather rocked so hard, to put it in stonerspeak. So lucky! He was quite handsome. I’d have been his wartime Urgin’ Virgin in a heartbeat (if I were older and had the correct plumbing). The sorry chickenhawks that are always squawking could learn a thing or two – or dozen – from men like your granddad and Mr. Jordan. I am humbled. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • mondojohnson

    I love yer Pop-Pop, Sara!

  • nightmoth

    Thanks,Sara. My Dad was a little too old for soldiering, but his RN skills were needed for the wounded. He spent the war traveling constantly between New York and San Francisco on the hospital trains, nursing casualties from both the European and Pacific fronts. Like most of those guys, he wouldn’t talk about it. When I pressed him once he looked at me with big sad eyes and said “The burn victims were the worst.” Then he shook his head and wouldn’t talk anymore.

  • SCK