Why the title?

"Pioneers take the arrows"

Oh, wait. I should be upbeat and taking arrows doesn't sound like an upbeat thing to say.

So, let me amend that statement.

It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn't see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives.

The sentiments of that last paragraph come from a favorite author, Louis L'Amour, in many of his books. So, I can't really say that it is an original thought from me. However, what he said is truthful.

Welcome to being a pioneer. Look ahead and ignore the "barking dogs" that give you negative opinions and comments. Louis L'Amour also spoke of the barking dogs.

In some of his stories, it was usually a father or older man telling a young boy how it was that when the Westward bound Conestoga wagons rolled through towns, the dogs came out to bark at them. His character then told the young listener that the barking didn't stop the wagons from going on to their destinations.

Following the advice of the Louis L'Amour characters, may we all forge ahead with our plans, after carefully considering all consequences and leave the "barkers" behind.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Long Lost Hero Comes Home

At long last, a World War II soldier returns home from the war.  As the story below will tell, only one family member could be found for Edward O’Toole, but there still were around 300 people for his graveside service, including an honor guard and the presence of the Warrior’s Watch Riders.  Those are veterans who own motorcycles and provide an escort for the fallen heros.

The story below is from the San Bruno Patch, although the story initially received the attention of the San Francisco Chronicle.  A link to the San Bruno Patch story, which has additional photos, follows the end of the story.

After 66 Years, Missing WWII Soldier Finally Gets Proper Burial

A distant cousin, the only known survivor, received the burial flag at a service Friday at Golden Gate National Cemetery.

By Maura Hurley

July 15, 2011

San Bruno Patch

O Toole Funeral1

Edward O'Toole's gravesite at San Bruno's Golden Gate National Cemetery.

All Photos Credit Maura Hurley

O Toole Funeral3

Barry Berg, O'Toole's distant cousin, receives the burial flag from the honor guard.

It took 66 years, but U.S. Army Private First Class Edward L. O’Toole, a San Francisco native, is finally home from World War II.

O’Toole was buried today with full honors at a service at Golden Gate National Cemetery. He died in November 1944, but his remains were not discovered until late 2009.

Some 300 people attended the service, including veterans, representatives of veterans groups and civilians who had read about O’Toole in an article in Thursday’s San Francisco Chronicle.

Until yesterday, it was believed that O’Toole had no living relatives. A distant cousin, Barry Berg, who lives in the same house on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill where O’Toole grew up, happened to see the article and contacted the paper.

“I was jolted when I saw it,” said the 68-year-old Berg, who was only 2 years old when O’Toole went missing.

“I remember my mother told me about him when I was about 16, but then she never talked about it," he said.

Edward O’Toole was born in San Francisco on March 16, 1921, the youngest of seven in an immigrant Irish Catholic family. Berg said that he also had a sister who died when she was only 6.

O’Toole attended San Francisco’s now-closed High School of Commerce, graduating in 1940. His high school yearbook reveals the patriotic tenor of the times, with silhouettes of battleships, fighter planes and American flags prominently featured. The graduating seniors were asked what they would do to defend their high school and America. O’Toole had a one-word answer: fight.

Army records show that O’Toole enlisted in the army in San Francisco on Dec. 7, 1942, exactly a year after Pearl Harbor and two years after graduating from high school. He was 21 and single, stood 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 161 pounds. He listed his occupation as an electrician’s apprentice.

Almost two years later, on Nov. 20, 1944, O’Toole was killed in action in Süggerath, a town in the western part of Germany. He was among 2,000 men who died during a three-day battle for control of several German towns in the Süggerath area. O’Toole was 23 years old.

In late 2009, a German national digging in a forested area around Süggerath discovered O’Toole’s skeletal remains. O’Toole’s dog tags were the only things intact. The army later found his dental records and made a final identification.

When the army went searching for his next of kin, they came up empty handed. Somehow they had missed Barry Berg.

However, O’Toole’s family hadn't forgotten him after the war. In the 1950s, his mother and one of his sisters asked the Army to provide a memorial headstone for him in the San Bruno cemetery. The Army finally complied in 1961.

Berg said that he and his family spent many Thanksgivings and Christmases at the O’Tooles’ home when he was growing up.

Berg’s life took him out of the Bay Area for a time, but he came back in the late ‘70s when his mother asked him to take care of two of O’Toole’s ailing elderly sisters. When they died, he inherited O’Toole’s Purple Heart—awarded posthumously—and the telegram the O’Toole family received that declared Edward missing in action.

O’Toole's remains will lie alongside those of a brother, Michael O’Toole, who served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and who was killed in an accident in 1951.



1 comment:

  1. How sad that it took the Army 11 years to comply with a request for headstone. Our vets deserve more respect than most elected officials in DC.


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