Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Memorial Day CD

My mother, may she rest in peace, loved to knit. For some odd reason she never made me a sweater, although she made several for other members of my family. Maybe it's because I never asked. She passed away in 1992 at the age of 67. I have a couple of remnants of sweaters that she made for my siblings, one she never finished, the other has a couple of holes in it, they don't exactly fit, but I've always kept them as a reminder of her.

Jack Sheppard, the company commander of C Company in the 712th Tank Battalion, also loved to knit. He suffered what likely was a pretty nasty concussion during the battle for Hill 122 when a shell struck his tank while his head was sticking out. He had serious headaches for years, maybe decades after the war, until a doctor suggested he take up knitting. The concentration somehow helped immensely with the headaches.

Me, I weave. Not shawls or blankets, I'll leave those to the folksy artisans who populate craft fairs. I weave stories. Not just stories, but audio snippets of interviews I've done.

This year, for my third annual Memorial Day CD, I've woven, as best I could, the story of Pfaffenheck, using excerpts of interviews with the Wolfe twins -- Maxine Wolfe Zirkle and Madeline (pronounced Mah-de-lean) Wolfe Litten -- as well as with Otha Martin (with comments from Andy Rego), Bob Rossi, Russell Loop, Francis "Snuffy" Fuller and Wes Harrell.

Except for the Wolfe sisters, all of the principals in this story have passed away, so there's no going back to the source for clarification. And even Maxine and Madeline, who are identical twins, I have difficulty telling which one is which. The interview with Otha Martin, which is pivotal to the story, was conducted rather informally in the hospitality room at a reunion of the 712th Tank Battalion in the mid-1990s, and the excessive background noise prevented me from using some of the audio. I hope that the audio I did use from that interview is understandable.

Pete DeVries, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division, told me he doesn't tell war stories because the stories that are told should be about those who never got the chance to come home. Billy Wolfe, Jack Mantell, Lloyd Heyward, Russell Harris are four such young men.

There is more about the battle at Pfaffenheck in my previous entry, and there will be more in future entries. I don't know if it is due to my shortcomings as a writer or to the fact that the written word is no substitute for the voice of the person who was there and who is telling the story. I leave that for you the reader/listener to decide.
Listen to an excerpt:

"So long kids, and if I never see you again, goodbye"

"I'm giving you a di-rect order!"

The story of Pfaffenheck, which I've chosen for this year's Memorial Day CD, is more than two hours long, and thus fills two audio CDs. For now it is only available in my eBay store. Or, in the immortal words of Lieutenant Francis "Snuffy" Fuller to Otha Martin, you can call 1-(888) 711-8265 and say "I'm giving you a di-rect order!" for this year's Memorial Day double CD, which, incidentally, costs $5.95. Mention you read about this in my blog or on my facebook page and receive the 2010 and 2009 Memorial CDs as a bonus.

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