Thursday, May 27, 2010


It began with a TV show, which led to a search, which led to a picture, which led to a memory, which led me here.

This is my grandfather's Marine Corps Dress Uniform from 1958. At the time, he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the 4th Battalion, 12th Marines.

I found this picture in a military collectibles forum where the uniform was being offered for sale. It appears to have been recycled to a Marine Corps Captain.

I do not know my grandfather, Big Lew, as a Marine. I know that he was a Marine in the abstract way that you know your parents went to college. For me, he is Grandpa Poge, who, on the way to Easter vigil when I was 10, taught me how to pronounce the name of his favorite Chinese restaurant, Ho Wah Ta Na Siam.

He is 93 now and is raising hell in a retirement home in Carlsbad, CA. When his doctor told him that he had to cut down to just one glass of wine a night, he asked how big the glass could be.

My grandfather fought in the Pacific during World War II. I knew this. I learned about the battles in AP History in high school, and I thought, "My grandfather made this history."

Several weeks ago, Grandpa was in the hospital, fighting pneumonia. He was given steroids to fight the inflammation in his lungs. The steroids caused hallucinations.

He called my father to tell him how to deploy his artillery for the invasion of Iwo Jima.

I have a thing for war movies, particularly WWII movies. Particularly those set in Europe. I have not watched any movies set in the Pacific theater. I have not watched "The Pacific," despite watching every episode of "Band of Brothers." Because I have not wanted to see what my grandfather lived. What he has not ever talked about, not to me.

And yet.

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