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Living in San Carlos July 3, 2009

Let’s Not Forget Our Heroes.

by Chuck Gillooley

Heroes.

George Sigler won’t be too happy with me for writing this post.  He’s not much into publicity.  But since George doesn’t own a computer and doesn’t have much need for the internet,  I’m probably safe.  He certainly doesn’t need this site to find out what’s happening in real estate – a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down from me on my way to work each day gives him all the information he wants to know.   But this isn’t to say that he doesn’t keep current  — he reads several newspapers each and every day, catches the news on TV, and gets the local scoop from his friends in his painting class which he drives himself to every week.  (By the way, he’s an amazing painter — what he can accomplish in just a couple of hours with a blank canvas is simply magic.)

You won’t read about George in the newspaper though, because he’s not a celebrity by today’s standards.    But in my eyes, there are few bigger than him.

You see, George is our neighbor in San Carlos.  He watches our house when we’re away on vacation, as he does for many others on the street.  He was here when we brought all three of our newborns home from the hospital many years ago.   He’s been with us through the good and the bad.

Oh yeah, he’s also 94 years old.   And he’s a World War II veteran.

What Needed to be Done.

George doesn’t brag about his service in WWII —  what he does say is pretty matter-of-fact.  This isn’t surprising — like most people of his generation, they simply did “what needed to be done” in their mind.  Whether it was donning a rifle half a world away, or a sewing needle here, everyone in this country did something to make a difference during that time.

But George does get a twinkle in his eye when he talks about his family’s contribution during the war.   You see, all of his brothers served in the war too.   And like many modest American families from the 1940’s, the War had a permanent and profound effect on the Sigler family:

One of George’s brothers came back a hero, and another brother didn’t come back at all.

The Right Stuff.

George’s brother Frank served on Iwo Jima, the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the history of the United States.   Frank had a pretty busy afternoon on March 14, 1945.  The following was taken verbatim from the official records of the Congressional Medal of Honor:

CITATION:  For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 2d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the e seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands on 14 March 1945.

Voluntarily taking command of his rifle squad when the leader became a casualty, Private Sigler fearlessly led a bold charge against an enemy gun installation which had held up the advance of his company for several days and, reaching the position in advance of the others, assailed the emplacement with hand grenades and personally annihilated the entire crew.

As additional Japanese troops opened fire from concealed  tunnels and caves above, he quickly scaled the rocks leading to the attacking guns, surprised the enemy with a furious 1-man assault and, although severely wounded in the encounter, deliberately crawled back to his squad position where he steadfastly refused evacuation, persistently directing heavy machine-gun and rocket barrages on the Japanese cave entrances.

Undaunted by the merciless rain of hostile fire during the intensified action, he gallantly disregarded his own painful wounds to aid casualties, carrying 3 wounded squad members to safety behind the lines and returning to continue the battle with renewed determination until ordered to retire for medical treatment. Stouthearted and indomitable in the face of extreme peril, Private Sigler, by his alert initiative, unfaltering leadership, and daring tactics in a critical situation, effected the release of his besieged company from enemy fire and contributed essentially to its further advance against a savagely fighting enemy.

His superb valor, resolute fortitude, and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice throughout reflect the highest credit upon Private Sigler and the U.S. Naval Service.

Private Sigler died on 20 January 1995 and was buried with full military honors in Section 12, Grave 2799, of Arlington National Cemetery.

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Here’s a picture of Frank being decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Harry S Truman.

Frank Sigler(photo courtesy of the Truman Library)

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No less of a hero, George’s brother, William C. Sigler, Private First Class, United States Marine Corps, was killed in World War II and is also buried in Arlington National Cemetery next to his brother Frank.

Who are YOUR Heroes?

With all the talk this week about a certain celebrity’s unfortunate passing, the word “hero” has been tossed about quite liberally.  This got me thinking about who my heroes are.     My wife and my kids, my mom and dad… and George, and Bill, and Frank….they are all my heroes.   They have all given me something that has truly made my life better.

So as you settle in for the barbeque and the parties and the fireworks this weekend, take a second to think about who your heroes are.   And if you’re lucky enough to still have them with you, take a moment to thank them.    Because they gave you something of their own, too.

Fly our flag proudly.

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