Honestly, I think my favorite part of the last few days has been when I have been driving around and, consequently, listening to the Tony Hillerman memoir.
The book has been especially interesting at this point in the story because Hillerman is nineteen and wandering around in France and Germany as a grunt, an infantryman, a mortar guy. But Hillerman narrates his book, so as he reads his own story, he shares about his own experiences as a soldier, as a kid out on his great adventure, and the things that he saw when he was an army man in the war. He recounts actions he was involved in, and his first experience as a man having to shoot an enemy combatant. He laughs at the seemingly regular ineptitude of “military intelligence” that governed his military experiences. And he marvels at his own fortune to get through some perilous actions that took the lives of many others around him. He was wounded at one point by a land mine, and he walks us through his experience of being semi-conscious on the ground to getting out of the combat zone and to a hospital where he finally learns he did not lose his feet- but rather, his body was burned here and there and he was in danger of losing his eyesight.
Hillerman talks pretty plainly about what it was like being an infantry man pushing into German-occupied territories- about his experiences with both good and poor American weapons, about being a soldier and facing death, about being a veteran surrounded by replacements at the age of nineteen, about the ugly things he saw and experienced as a guy living out of foxholes as he soldiered his way across Europe.
You get a little better sense of what it was like for the young men who were out there, leaning on their company mates while facing the rigors of combat and the horrors of war.
I didn’t realize Hillerman was one of those guys- one of those remarkable kids- before picking up this book.
Remarkable kids, indeed.
And Tony is still a wounded, bandaged guy in a hospital at this point in our foray into the book. More enjoyable driving ahead.
Before Tony became the journalist author, he was the wounded soldier- a kid on “a great adventure”.