On Friday, June 8, 2018 I was treated to an evening with many heroes at the 14th Annual Tri-State Warbird Museum Gala. As always the evening honored living World War II veterans. Going on a rough count by those introduced by Rob Riner there were about a dozen in attendance.
I was honored to sit the Mr. Earl Conklin, who is ninety seven years young. Mr. Conklin served in world War II as a Marine 2 Lt in the very bloody Battle of Okinawa.
He told me, “I don’t know about the Air Force, but in the Marines a Second Lieutenant leads. I mentioned how I had learned so much about the battle in Bill O’Reilly’s book, “Killing the Rising Sun”. I knew the battle was hard before I read that book, but I only knew the half of it. It made me realize that an invasion of the Japanese mainland in World War II would have led to greater loss of life and suffering. This was averted with Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb.
When I asked Mr. Conklin if it was as hard as I had read. He pointed to the Purple Heart on his lapel. “That is where I got this”.
I asked him where he had been shot. At first he was confused as to what I was asking. “Where on your body did you get shot”? I asked.
He pointed to his pelvis area. The bullet went in here and ended up over there he point as he pointed left to right over the pelvic area. He told me that he spent five days in the hospital, but begged to return to the battlefield. His men needed their leader. He went back.
All in all there were seven officers in his unit. Two were killed and most of the others were injured in the battle. Because of men like Earl Conklin, we have our freedom today. Thank you Mr. Conklin.