The Horrors of War Leads to a Better Mousetrap Published 2007-09-23 under

I grew up mocking my father every time he would go into one of his "war stories". It was not that he did that often, but my brother and I would love to put on our best documentary narrator's voice and mimic "Back in WW2, when men were really men ...". You see, my father was a 'weather man' gathering information about wind speed, barometric pressure, and air temperature at different altitudes. He was not part of D-Day nor did he land on Iwo Jima. His job was to provide the information that would help make these campaigns and others successful. But unless you were driving a tank, throwing a grenade or piloting a fighter, I was not interested.

The build up to tonight's release of The War on PBS has directed focus back to WWII. There have been tons of shows interviewing veterans of the war and it occurred to me that I really did not know any of my father's stories. So, I set out to learn.

I had several conversations with my Dad and even asked him to find photos and old war memorabilia (e.g. ribbons, discharge papers, medals, etc). The result was a better appreciation of my father's participation and a better understanding of the war in general. The time was informative but more a bonding experience. I really enjoyed the time talking about the past uncovering stories that even my Dad had forgotten. My favorite story involves an enemy that can only be described as vermin.

I mentioned that my Dad did not land on Iwo Jima. That is not entirely true. He did land on the island but well after the initial invasion and after the island was secured. I was fascinated by his tales of going into the famous tunnels but, as my Dad described it, the real enemy on the island were mice. They were everywhere and into every thing. You leave your toothpaste out and it would be gone. My Dad devised a trap for the mice out of a five gallon can, water and cheese. On the first night, the trap was so successful that they almost filled the can with mice. Soon the whole camp wanted to borrow the mousetrap and my Dad and his tent mates were renting it out for cans of beer.

With all of the bad that war brings, it is nice to hear stories like these that describe the more humorous side of tragedy.

You can hear the story as my Dad told it to me during lunch one afternoon. download mp3 - 2.9MB