Portrait of a loser

My father was a loser.

At the age of 18, Henry Paul LoGuercio was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he was quickly transformed from the valedictorian of his military high school, student body president, and master of five languages into a soldier. Because of his academic success in military school, he was immediately made a 2nd Lieutenant in charge of a unit of soldiers.

They were shipped out in the midst of World War II, landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day in Normandy, France. Jumping off the ship and sloshing through the waves in full military gear, my father and his unit stormed the beach amid a hail of German bullets. Those who survived charged ahead and took refuge in a barn.

My father never spoke of his military service, other than to tell me what happened next: German war planes overhead strafed the building. He could hear the ackackack of the bullets whizzing through the ceiling and all around him. When he looked up, all around him were dead and dying soldiers. Right next to him was a dead soldier with his face completely blown off.

Miraculously, not one bullet had grazed my father. However, there were dual strips of bullet holes alongside where he’d lain. He was rescued by other American soldiers in a complete state of shock. Master of five languages? He was unable to speak or even say his own name. He was taken to an army hospital where he was “rehabilitated.” He had to be taught to write again. My grandmother showed me a little note he’d managed to scrawl from his hospital bed in something more like chicken scratch than letters. It said, “Hi Mom and Pop, Everything here is swell. Love, Henry.” He was released to his parents six months later, with basically a “Sucks to be you” salute and a shove out the door. He suffered for the remainder of his life from “shell shock,” which we now call PTSD.

My father managed to make something of his life, and chose to go into medicine. He said he’d seen enough death, and wanted to devote himself to saving lives. He became an outstanding osteopath and surgeon. However, the PTSD haunted him… a shadow that never left his side, never let him forget the horrors he’d witnessed—in an era where we didn’t have war movies to desensitize us to the horrors of the battlefield. The first death and carnage he witnessed was not on a movie screen. It was bleeding at his side. When he was 18.

PTSD was a constant presence, which he attempted to chase away with alcohol. More and more and more, but the demons just laughed. At that time, the U.S. Army didn’t recognize “shell shock” as a disability. He was on his own to figure it out, discharged with a “Hey, sucks to be you, have a great life.” He never got a Purple Heart. From that point on, as far as the Veterans Administration was concerned, he was “Henry Who?”

Ultimately, alcohol and PTSD eroded my dad’s ability to function as a physician any longer. His hands began shaking. He was unable to do surgery with shaking hands, and unable to get malpractice insurance because of that. Unable to work, he rapidly downspiraled into out of control alcoholism, PTSD, and paranoia. In November 1977, he had a massive brain aneurysm, and was in a coma for nearly two months. He eventually woke up, paralyzed on one side, most of his intellectual capacity destroyed. He had become a shell, filled only with sadness and loss. Yet, he lingered on like that until 2003, when he died alone the day after Christmas in a convalescent hospital, apparently suffering another stroke in the middle of the night. Or, maybe he’d finally just had enough of this life.

When it became time to plan his funeral, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars group discovered that my dad was a WWII veteran because one of them was married to the woman who ran the local flower shop, where I’d ordered the roses for his casket. The VFW wanted to give my dad military honors upon his burial.

As friends and family carried my father’s casket to the open grave, there were several VFW members there in full uniform, rifles at the ready. He was given a rifle salute, and “Taps” was the only song that played. When they were done, their quartermaster presented me with an American flag, neatly and tightly wrapped into a triangle, and told me he appreciated my father’s service.

After all those years, and from veterans who never even knew him, he was still their brother in arms, and they wouldn’t let him be laid to rest without acknowledging his service. What a bunch of losers, to care for a sucker like that.

I’ll tell you one thing: There was more patriotism and courage in one hair follicle on any of those veterans’ heads, or on my dad’s, than there is in the entire character of our President. When called to serve this country, they didn’t fake bone spurs, likely because they weren’t amongst the rich and privileged who can slide out of service with a purchased note from the family doctor.

There are men and women just like that, right now, fighting to protect our country’s interests all over the world, who put their lives on the line for our country every single day, and who will selflessly charge into battle to save this country and defend our Constitution. And, they are led by a Commander in Chief who views them as “losers” and “suckers,” and who says if they are captured in battle, don’t deserve to be saved because they’d allowed themselves to be caught. He has less respect or concern for them than the dirt under his heel.

I have been a professional writer for going on 30 years, and I do not have the words within me to fully express my fury and outrage at what Donald Trump has said about the members of our miltary. His words in the Atlantic Monthly story this week are corroborated by his denigration of a genuine military hero, John McCain, as well as his lack of interest in doing anything when it was recently revealed that Russia had funded attacks on American soldiers in Afganistan.

He DOES NOT CARE about our service members. Or us.

HE.

DOES.

NOT.

CARE.

How about you? Do you care about them? If you do, then VOTE this November, and save our military members and our entire country from this soulless sociopath who doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself.

Trump is an enemy of the state. He should be treated as such.

18 thoughts on “Portrait of a loser

  1. Thanks Debra for sharing your Dad on FB. I cannot believe that anyone would vote for that man. Praying that Joe Biden will win. You are right, he is a disgrace to the country and our armed forces. My grandfather was in WW1 and my Uncle was in WW2….We always new in our huge family what a sacrifice they made. So glad your horse and the other horses were saved from the fire. Susan Youmans

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      • Yes, he was called “AJ” and perhaps by your father’s lead. I love that you remember me. I am blank on that part, when you were in my life, I guess. Perhaps, seeing you will trigger the memory of it. Yes, our fathers are far from losers. My father regarded yours highly. I remember that. It greatly saddened him to know of the issue he had. My life has been fine. I look forward to seeing you guys in Sac at some point.

        Liked by 1 person

        • A childhood reunion would be amazing. As soon as this COVID nightmare is over! I have a very specific memory of us playing together, with my Johnny West and his bendable horse… I had a brown one with a black mane and tail, and you were so impressed with it, and you said, “This horse is BOSS!” and I had never heard that expression before, and it perplexed me because I had a lot of toy horses, and that horse was NOT the boss of my little plastic herd! Funny how we can remember a moment like snapshot! I also remember of you that you were very quiet… but my memory of your dad is the same – very quiet. I can picture your mom’s face… can’t remember her name.
          When we all see each other again, I bet each of our recollections will trigger memories!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Boy, the consummate complexity of Mario Savioni! I don’t remember being quiet then, but after he died certainly, when all the King’s men and his horses had fallen, or bent? And yes Dad was a keeper, barely spoke. Kept everything to himself, except when he was with patients, he was warm and radiant. I loved his humility and greatness. He knew so much and succeeded so supremely. Our dads were doctors! The greatest profession.

            Liked by 1 person

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