Years later I would get another chance meet with another "Wayne" of sort. I was a policeman and on crowd control at an intersection where he was about to do a commercial for one of the big gas companies. The crowds had yet to arrive and he was in his dresser trailer when I sent in a note that I had a warrant for his arrest and that if he could come out I would be most appreciative. I was stunned when he did, sat in the back and thus locking himself in the cruiser. I then asked most sheepishly for his autograph. I thought I'd soon be unemployed by this stupid stunt but he thought it quite cute and obliged. Of course, by that time he was one half of the comedy team, that was the sole act to appear on the internationally known Ed Sullivan show more times than any other act. But he used his adopted name.. Johnny Wayne and his partner of course was Frank Shuster ..bother of the writer and creator of another kind of hero. You might recall him. His name was Superman.
Years later I would learn that my mother, who served in the Canadian Womens Army Corps in WW ll, was involved very early in the war in recruiting, prior to going overseas. . As part of her duties she and a handful of others made a short recruiting film, that was used across North America. And the two university kids from Toronto who did the movie score were two guys named John Wayne and Frank Shuster. The same fellows!
Over the years I have obtained autographs from Canadian astronaut Robert Bondar, Canadian acting legend Leslie Nielson and comedian Charlie Farguharson (Don Harron of CBC TV fame, and others.
At the above left, retired Colonel Jack Jacobs signs materials presented by a member of the public. Jack was a Lieutenant in Vietnam back in 1968 when his company CO was wounded and he had to assume command. The troops had to move back and en-route he had to go into enemy territory several times to rescue the wounded while himself getting repeatedly wounded and even partially and temporarily blinded during these actions. He was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism, the saving of dozens of lives and dispersing of many of his enemy at the same time.
The image to the right is from a year earlier and shows several of over 500 in 2014 who waited their turn, as did I, to have our group, one of I believe five, to get a turn and entering the room and meeting these heroes. Several in the photo carry the latest book at the time on the heroes that was being sold at the event. The MOH recipient would turn to the page telling his story and sign it for the proud owner. Note also the green dots each attendee is wearing. These are to identify the group of guests he or she belongs to. Each is only allowed a limited time then asked to leave the room to make way for the next group to enter. Last year I was given a blue dot, which I still have as a keepsake.
Many of the MOH men have been quoted telling that it is their duty to appear at these events and others to tell the stories...not of their heroism, which most very much down play, or the glorifying of wars and the hell it involved. They feel it their duty to continue to tell the stories of their fellow men and women who served and continue to serve. And of those that gave their lives during the battle for which the recipient received his award, and yet others that died, and also of those who went missing, were wounded or permanently disabled in those battles and the ones before and after.
These MOH men are often old men. Men in the their 80's and 90's. Men very unstable of the ground and in physical discomfort of one form or another but men who still feel it a duty to be at these events. And we as readers of these blogs and net stories that benefit from the freedoms these men gave us have our own duty to stand in front of them, to salute each and every one of them, to listen intently and then to thank them for their services.
A very moving account on WHY they give autographs is highlighted in the Colonel Jacobs interview at.. http://www.wbir.com/story/news/local/medal-of-honor/2014/09/12/medal-of-honor-autographs/15537029/
Please take the time to visit this site.
Here are two more of these cards. Three of the four are on the men pictured above.