Give the Drummer Some's
6 Favorite Downloads from the MP3 Blogosphere
[**Note: Look for the download links after the jump**]
A Veteran's Day post, for my father.
Growing up, I was always aware that my dad had served during World War II. I knew from old photos what he looked like in uniform. I knew that he'd fought in the Battle of the Bulge. I knew he'd earned a Purple Heart (though he claimed his injury required only a simple bandage). I also knew that he never cared to talk much about his wartime experiences. He wasn't secretive and walled-up about it, but he never went into any great detail on those rare occasions when the subject came up. So you can imagine my surprise when only a few years ago I learned, almost by accident, that my gentle, unassuming father is a Silver Star–decorated hero who performed with tremendous valor under terrible duress during one the longest and most devastating battles in U.S. Army history: the Battle of Hürtgen Forest.
Back in June 1994, during the 50th anniversary celebrations of WWII, the French government invited veterans who'd landed at Normandy to attend a ceremony where they were awarded a special commemorative medal. Unsurprisingly, my father chose not to go. A few years later, all the vets who missed the Normandy honor were invited to the U.S. Capitol to receive their rightful medals, and he was going to skip that, too (despite living in nearby Maryland). He had never told me about the invitation to return to Normandy, but when I learned of the ceremony at the Capitol, I couldn't resist asking him to share with me more about his experiences during the war. I traveled down to Maryland and took my father out to lunch and peppered him with questions, which he answered unreservedly with a great richness of detail. He told me what it was like when George Patton visited his outfit and ate with him in the officers' mess, with his shiny helmet and fancy revolvers; that an entire unit he'd been with, but was pulled from to join Officer Candidate School, had perished in a plane crash in North Africa; that he was among the first American soldiers to cross into Luxembourg and how his division was the first to advance across German lines; and about performing occupation duty after the war ended and seeing long queues of emaciated camp survivors.
That day at lunch my father also mentioned that he'd been awarded the Silver Star. I didn't really understand the great significance of this until I returned home and started doing some research. I asked my father to tell me the story of how he earned the Silver Star and he send me a long letter detailing what took place. He also included the original document that came through confirming his award of the medal. And most movingly, he sent me his Silver Star.
I treasure these items and continue to be proud of my father's service in the cause of defeating fascism. In the spirit of offering an oral history as tribute, I am reprinting below the command document ordering my father's Silver Star and an excerpt of the letter he wrote to me describing the circumstances surrounding his earning it.
HERBERT M. SCHULKIND: First Lieutenant, Field Artillery, United States Army, for gallantry in action in Germany on 19 September 1944. While acting as a forward observer, the enemy launched a counter attack against the unit with which First Lieutenant Schulkind was observing. First Lieutenant Schulkind, in spite of enemy fire and danger from exploding ammunition in a nearby burning half track, took a position under direct observation of the enemy and directed artillery fire on them. So effective was the combined tank and artillery fire directed that the enemy counter attack was completely routed. The action of First Lieutenant Schulkind reflects the highest traditions of the military service." — BY COMMAND OF MAJOR GENERAL LUNSFORD E. OLIVER
Our division, the 5th Armored, were the first American troops to cross the German border, in early September 1944. We were supposed to simply be a diversionary attack, but broke through from Luxembourg in the general vicinity of Trier. I was acting as a forward artillery observer with a tank company and a company of armored infantry. Our battalion, the 95th Armored Field Artillery, had three batteries of six 105 howitzers mounted on a tank chassis. As a forward artillery observer, I had to direct artillery fire by radio back to our 105 howitzers which were in position two or three miles to the rear.
When we broke through at the border, the tanks and armored infantry
continued into Germany for about seven or eight miles and set up in
position on a hill overlooking a valley. We stayed there for three or
four days, each drawing more enemy fire, but not firing much
opposition. On the fourth night we could hear German armor moving up.
At daylight, there was very heavy fog and we couldn't see a thing in
the valley below, but we could hear the enemy tanks and realized they
were using the cover of the fog to circle around behind us. After an
hour or so, the mist miraculously lifted and the whole valley below us
was filled with German tanks and armored vehicles. The tank company
(from our 10th Armored Regiment) had a field day and I also radioed
back to the artillery and directed fire.
During the winter of 1945, we were in the Huertgen Forest in Germany and I was sent as liaison to an artillery battalion of the 8th Infantry Division—they wanted to tie our guns into the 8th Division's to add firepower and I would be able to radio the firing data to our batteries. One day, I got a message to put on a clean uniform and proceed to a particular location. I don't remember if I was told it was to get a medal, or whether I learned about it when I arrived at the clearing in the forest I was directed to. But in any event, when I got there, I learned what was up. There were about four or five of us to be decorated. We lined up and lo and behold there was our division commander, Major General Lunsford E. Oliver. He went down the line and pinned the medal on the soldiers. Although I don't think I did anything special to merit the Silver Star decoration, I was pleased that it was the officers from the tank company who recommended the award and not my own outfit.
It is to my father that I owe my love for music. His descriptions of seeing Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and some of my greatest music heroes have been an inspiration from the beginning for me. My father turned 90 back in September, and, to celebrate, I've invited him to come on my radio show to play some records and talk about music. That program will happen as soon as his new hip lets him travel comfortably to New York. In the meantime, enjoy some of these musical delights:
Stompin' on Savoy
Archie Shepp/Bill Dixon ~ "Peace"
(Blog: The Changing Same)
Comedian Harmonists ~ "Die Grossten Erfolge 1928-1934"
(Blog: Reci's Oldies)
Lysergic Bossa Soul
Tony & Frankye ~ "Tony & Frankye"
(Blog: Blog de Samba & Soul)
Give the Drummer Some, Fridays on WFMU, 9 to Noon (ET).
Check out every installment of Mining the Audio Motherlode