An Encounter with Living History

CDR Carl B. Forkner, Ph.D., USN(Ret)

Today I was in the waiting room at a physician’s office waiting for the second round of my tests to begin. As I was sitting there, a gentleman and his daughter came into the room and sat down. Now,…

…whenever I come across a Veteran who served before my era–WWII, Korea, Vietnam–I make time to shake their hand and thank them for their service. For the Vietnam Veterans, it is thanks and “Welcome Home” long overdue. For Korea Veterans, it is thanks and recognition of their part in suppressing the spread of Communism in a conflict often forgotten.

But for World War II Veterans, it is extra special to me. My father and four uncles served richard forkner (Cpl) and paul shark (Sgt) - brothers - 1947in World War II–in the Navy and the Army. My Dad was able and willing to tell me about his experiences during the war and in the occupation forces in Germany. So, World War II Veterans–all of them in their 90’s or older today–are living history and a group of men and women who literally saved the world from evil. They are/were a part of, as Tom Brokaw stated, “The Greatest Generation,” whether fighting and supporting overseas or being at home training, recycling, rationing, and pulling together as a nation. It was my Dad and these great men and women who sparked my patriotism and interest in studying and preserving history.

The wonderful gentleman in the picture with me above the headline is Mr. Robert R. Lopez, a World War II Army Veteran who served in an impressive group of soldiers. You see, Mr. Lopez was a member of the US Third Army. He literally fought alongside General George S. Patton on the impressive drive into Germany, in the rescue of the men at the Battle of the Bulge, and saw the war through to its end.

I will be inviting him out to lunch after the holidays and hope to have many more opportunities to sit and chat with him as the days go on. How rare it is to meet someone who was part of saving the world and is happy to have a new friend with whom to talk!

Needless to say, I am honored by the opportunity to meet Robert and look forward to future opportunities to chat. For now, I must end this post and put together a Christmas card to send him!

Thank you, Mr. Robert Lopez, for this wonderful encounter and meeting!




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