[Spridgets] Veterans Day--Perhaps a salute

Robert Bruce Evans b-evans at earthlink.net
Sun Nov 11 15:25:54 MST 2007

Duke, the greeter at Costco, and it is always fun to joke with him when I go shopping. Angelo G. Dukelis is 85 now, but he quite readily admits that the greatest part of his life, its real highlight, was World War II. Whenever I see him, his memories return and he wants to share the days when he was a kid from the Lower East Side of New York and dropped out of school to join the Army, then volunteered for the 101st Airborne (paratroops). 
He well he remembers parachuting into Normandy on D-Day and fighting like hell to get out of his parachute that had dropped him in a tree. He vividly remembers the first German soldier he killed, and the look on the other kids face. And he still has the Nazi flag he took off another German he killed, still bearing a smudge of the dead krauts blood. Operation Market Garden, that operational blunder remains alive in him. Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge were as if it were yesterday. 
Wounded three times by the time he was 19, perhaps his most poignant memories are of the friends he lost, killed in action. He still goes back to Normandy and through the towns he fought in as a kid, but most importantly, he goes to the cemetery to visit those friends who stayed behind when he could come home, and to place flowers on his colonels grave. He thinks that this coming summer will probably be the last time he will be able to make it. In talking with Duke, I think of all of those other kids he was with in World War II. They are now a vanishing breed. Fortunately, Duke loves to visit schools to tell them his part of the war, and what they should do for their country.
Duke was a member of Company E of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army (http://tinyurl.com/2u8dy3). Yes, that company. His experiences have been chronicles in so many films, The Longest Day, Operation Market Garden, Battle of the Bulge, and lately, Band of Brothers. (But dont ask him what he thinks of that film.)  Whenever a new film comes out, he is reminded once again of the greatest time of his life.
Duke is now part of a vanishing breed as time catches up with the dwindling number of those who experienced the bloody battles of World War II. The last survivor of Great War died recently, and now we will turn attention to watch their numbers decline.
As a nation and as individuals, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Duke and to his once millions of brothers in arms. As a Veterans Day tribute, I think it would be a great idea if folks would just drop Duke a line to say thank you, for without his generation, America would have been far, far different. It doesn't have to be on Veterans Day, it can be anytime. His e-mail address is:
Dukelis506 at cs.com
But PLEASE, dont show him this note, or tell him whose idea it was!
Buster Evans

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