In retrospect, when I think about what I should have done differently, if I had my life to live "over again": Should I have given up the idea of becoming a concert pianist to become an electrical engineer? Should I have enlisted in the Army to fight the Nazis because my grandfather hated them so much? Should I have accepted a scholarship that I'd been offered, after I'd returned home from the war, to attend Princeton University and study both mathematics and physics, because I'd have had to wait a year before commencing said studies? Should I have come home, leaving Claudette, whom I deeply loved, to remain in France with her parents? This last "should I have" was a real mistake, because I found that my mother had gone on a trip to California, taking my younger sister with her, and leaving my younger brother at home! Also my brother told me that she'd remarried out there about 3 weeks before my arrival at home! I suddenly realized that I certainly hadn't needed to hurry home to take care of my mother, brother and sister! Naturally, even though I'd already received 3 letters from Claudette, I telephoned to tell her I was going to return to France, but by then, she was very angry with me and told me that since I'd deserted her she felt she couldn't trust me any more! As a result, I finally realized that all the "should I haves" I'd thought about were quite useless and that the old Jewish saying, "Born a fool, remain a fool!" was very applicable, at least in my case.
AUTHOR'S COMBAT UNIT IDENTIFICATION:
PFC Sol R. Brandell
1.) 2nd Gunner, 57mm Anti-Tank Gun Platoon,
2.) Scout-Observer, Combat Intelligence & Reconnaissance Section,
HQ Company, 2nd Battalion, 355th Infantry Regiment,
89th Infantry Division, VIIIth Corps, 3rd U.S. Army
General George S. Patton, Jr. , Commanding
AUTHOR'S MILITARY DISTINCTIONS:
Combat Infantryman Badge;
Bronze Star Medal;
Good Conduct Medal;
American Campaign Medal;
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal,
with 2 Campaign Stars: "Rhineland", "Central Europe";
World War II Victory Medal;
Army of Occupation Medal, with "Germany" Clasp;
Meritorious Unit Citation Emblem,
Awarded to: 2nd Battalion, 355th Infantry Regiment.
Historical Note (1.) More than 408,000* Americans died in World War II; about 293,000 in battle, and about 115,000 from all other causes, e.g., accidents, sickness, etc. (The 408,000 total includes 78,796** MIA's).
Historical Note (2.) The U.S. was engaged in World War II for 3-years and 9-months.
*Data provided by "Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States"
**Data provided by "The American Battle Monuments Commission"