The Man, the Myth and Madness, Part 2

Drill Sergeant Hart's eyes bugged momentarily, but narrowed questioningly.

"Serious, Drill Sergeant."

He gave a small grin that alone saw.

"Good luck, Private Poling," he said as he thrust my papers to my chest. Barely quick enough to grab them before he about-faced and stomped off with purpose. "Ya'lls bus leaves in sixty minutes! Get a move on you shits!"

I finished packing, and confidently marched to the bus.

This is my maternal Grandfather, Francis John Braun, and that's pronounced like the color, brown. The 'au' in German is the same as the 'ow' in English. It was a point he had always made, with a bit of sharpness, when someone would say 'brawn,' as in strength. He was fourteen in this picture, so this was probably 1938, and by 1942, he was just barely old enough to join the USMC, United States Marine Corps. Where did he serve the majority of his time? The Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, specifically, Guadalcanal.

In July of 1998, I had only been out of the Army for two years, I took my grandfather to see Saving Private Ryan. He wasn't a fan of it, and neither was I. Five months later, we went to see The Thin Red Line around Christmas, and when we left the theater, we were both quite, thinking back on our pasts. For the first and only time in my life, I saw my grandfather cry. Then it dawned on me, nearly all those books about WW II he had in his library were about the Solomon Islands, and Guadalcanal, where he served in the Armed Forces, and so was the movie. I have many of those books, since he had passed away in February 2007, at the are of 83.

This is Celestine Braun. Not only was he the closest of the field of older brothers to my grandfather, something he mentioned all the time, but he was always the first to tell anyone who'd listen that Tinie (the name he often referred to Celestine by) was a spy in WW II within the OSS, Office of Strategic Services in the 1940s.

So the story goes...

...To Be Continued...


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