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A normal childhood

Everybody blames their childhood for all their sins and faults. I can't do that because mine was like all the kids I knew. And I had a privileged childhood just like a lot of rich big shots. They always are bragging they were educated in Europe in private schools. So was I. I was even a private and had many tutors 24 hours a day. Most of the rich, big shots were just in one country, but I went to school in many countries. I had to learn languages, customs, history, and cuisine all over Europe.

I walked everywhere, even ran a lot for a healthy childhood. I slept wherever and whenever I could. No blankets, pillow, or bed. You don't need all that. I slept on the floor for a long time after I could have been in a nice, soft bed.

Some of the things we were ordered to do take a little getting used to. Like being ordered to kill anyone who wasn't dressed like us. That's a lot of power to give kids, but we handled it very well.

Of course, the other guys were ordered to kill you. So you had to pay attention 24 hours a day. You usually operated in pairs, so one of you had to be awake all night. Talk about a good night's sleep — you never got one. I usually was paired up with a new replacement. Until they got used to explosions, gun fire, and general uproar all night, they couldn't sleep; so I'd tell them to wake me if any Germans came close and I'd try to sleep.

I still remember a dream I had 61 years ago. I was sleeping in a foxhole and the Germans were shelling us. One big shell came real close and caused some of the dirt on the side of the hole to break loose and fall in my face. I woke, dreaming I was back home in bed during a summer thunderstorm.

Another time I was sleeping in a foxhole in the middle of a big, snow-covered field. My buddy woke me and said a lot of Germans were coming, for me to get on the automatic rifle, and he'd shoot up a flare. I remember waking and in five seconds I was sighting down a gun barrel at a lot of legs moving against the white snow. The bodies blended with the dark woods behind them. The cold north wind was freezing my sighting eye. The flare went off and I saw a herd of deer that had been scared out of the woods and coming toward us. Things like that will wake you right up better than a cup of good, hot coffee. That's good, because we never had a cup of good, hot coffee.

It was hard to get used to having your buddies get killed all the time. A lot of times we were within arms length and you had to see and hear them die. If we were attacking, you left them and went on just like they were pieces of garbage people throw out a car window. Eventually all dead bodies were like garbage. They were everywhere and in the way. Try eating a can of pork and beans with a dead guy's brains lying on the ground in front of you. Damn garbage.

Bob Thrasher L/395

PO Box 113

Harrodsburg IN 47434