My family have fought in most of America’s wars, from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam. My great-grandfather fought in both World War I and World War II, lying both times about his age to enlist. My father carried his .38 revolver on helicopters throughout Vietnam. There were many others throughout the years and they all returned safely from service save one; my great-uncle Robert E. Flynn, whose last known whereabouts were somewhere along the Bataan Death March.
Robert Flynn enlisted in the Army in 1941. He had been slated to attend the University of Notre Dame, like his brother, my grandfather. My father jokes that Robert chose the army instead to ‘get away from my grandfather.’ The family was greatly relieved, though, when he was deployed to the Philippines, as any threat of war at the time was focused on Europe. Obviously, everything changed on December 7th that year.