In honor of Veterans Day this Friday, please enjoy the stories of two Butte residents who served their country.
By Diane Larson
In November we celebrate Veterans Day. A day set aside each year to remember, honor and celebrate the men and women living and passed who served or are serving in the armed forces. Their stories are an integral part of the larger American story.
President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Patriotism means to stand by the country.” Louise “Capp” Martin, a resident of The Springs at Butte enlisted to the WACs in 1942. Her reason for enlisting was that she felt it was her patriotic duty. She once said that her proudest military accomplishment was the ability to serve and honor her country. She served from 1942 to 1945 in Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. Louise speaks very fondly of the people she served with, particularly the other women.
Louise was a Corporal in the army and said that even though they didn’t get deployed, their work in the States was just as important. During her stay in the service Louise received a medal for good conduct.
When asked what her job or assignment was while she was in the WACs, with a big smile she said, “to raise hell.” But seriously, she would do what-ever was needed. She cooked for the other women and taught an exercise class. A fun point was when Louise was chosen to be a model for the WAC “date” uniform. (See photo) Louise tells her stories of the time she served with great joy. She has fond memories of going to New Orleans on their evenings off. It was on one of these trips that Louise had her first drink.
Another resident at The Springs at Butte is Leo Mullen. Leo spent 20 years in the Navy. He served as a medic in both WWII and the Korean War. Leo was only 39 years old when he was able to retire.
Leo was in the Navy before the war started, first of May 1941. Leo’s first assignment was a naval hospital in Brooklyn. From Brooklyn he stayed a short time in Philadelphia, then he went to Lakehurst. He was at Lakehurst when the war started, then went to Camp Lejeune in California. From there he went overseas to New Zealand. Then to Guadalcanal where they relieved the first marine division. He also spent time in Quam.
Leo has a scar on his knee where he took some shrapnel. He had gone outside with some friends after dinner. They were standing underneath a tree. Unbeknownst to them there was a Japanese soldier in the trees above them. That soldier dropped a grenade right by them. Leo was leaning against the tree and the grenade landed on the other side of the tree, and he took it to the knee. The shrapnel has since been removed, but the scar and memory remain.
The medics would go out with the patrols so Leo saw a lot of war. But even with that said, Leo says that the thing that really affected him was the disease, especially being a medic and being exposed to so much. Malaria and dysentery, and he caught both, are just two of the illnesses.
Leo is very grateful for the Veterans. His wife was stricken with Alzheimer’s. The disease took all their savings and they ran out of money. The pension he received from the Veterans saved him.
Both Louise and Leo spoke fondly of their time in the service and have wonderful memories of that time in their lives.
In an address before a joint session of the congress on April 16, 1945, President Truman said these words about our service men and women. “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. Because of these sacrifices the dawn of justice and freedom throughout the world slowly casts its gleam across the horizon.”
ButteNews.net and the Shop.Dine.Play want to say thank you to the Springs at Butte for letting us visit with two amazing Veterans and for allowing us to tell their story. To Leo and Louise and all the Veterans thank you for your service.