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Memorial Day Remembrance ...


Nolan Kienitz
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whew.......I always wondered what happened to Sonny.

Lester Unger Jr., Specialist Four C CO, 1ST BN, 5TH CAVALRY, 1ST CAV DIV, USARV Army of the United States.

He didn't respond to Lester; insisted on being called Sonny. No one even dreamed of calling him Lester.

He was my football coach in Pee Wee Football in 1965.

He started in it because he believed in what he was doing, and ended it on 11.21.66 @ Pleiku Province, South Vietnam, after a month on the ground.

I can still remember him, the way he stood at practice with that smile, and his hands on his hips, how he'd make the small kids that weren't any good (me) feel like we were someone, like we were contenders.

He treated us kids with respect and admiration, and told us white lies about how good we looked on the field so we'd not get upset that we couldn't even run very well.

The other coaches were a bunch of goofs, trying to relive their childhoods through us kids on the football field.

Not Sonny. We all wanted to be like Sonny because he made us feel like a team.

He showed us with his actions that we all counted for something and to not let our teammates down. No yelling from Sonny. He got us to do the right thing because we wanted to, not because he told us to.

True to form, the stories we heard were he took the heat while the rest of his squad reformed and fell back to a better position. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for his team.

I remember Sonny.

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In Remembrance:

Gunnery Sgt. Edward A. Amaral (Bridgewater, MA) (My Uncle and Godfather, my Dad's younger brother..)

Squad Leader Marine Assault Rifle Co. B

1st Battalion/5th Marine Regiment/1st Marine Division

United States Marine Corps (Enlisted 1940/Discharged 1946)

North Africa (Operation Torch?) 1942

Talasea Operation 1944 Dengue Fever

Bronze Star w/Combat V (Peleliu Island, Palau Group) Purple Heart (shot on Sept 25th) (Sept 15-25, 1944)

On Peleliu, at age 26, he lead a rifle squad of roughly 13 guys through an arduous amphibious landing under heavy artillery, machine gun and mortar fire, (first wave, Orange Beach 1, 0830), got their asses off the coral beach (his guys froze in fear due to the annhilation of fellow Marines going on around them), reached the edge of the airstrip and held their positions. Then through a Japanese tank counterattack later in the day (he bore-sighted a Japanese tank with a 37mm field piece) and the next day, crossed the Peleliu airfield through a hail of mortar, artillery and machine gun fire without wasting his guys. They knocked out 'pillboxes and hostile installations' (says his Bronze Star citation). Geekizz... Local temperature: around 110 degrees F. Water---little to none. He sucessfully achieved all of their planned objectives.

After hundreds of hours using Google "images", I found two photos of him in combat on Peleliu. Very eerie.. it's like he's saying' "Don't forget"...

He then served as a Squad Leader on Okinawa (April 1, 1945-May 4th, 1945) (Shot on May 4th) (1945) Long arduous combat duty and suffering. Much of it in mud... Nightime combat, flares, Japanese yelling at the Marines...Japanese coming into foxholes, the whole thing...

Uncle Ed was a DI in Korean War. I have his DI hat here..and his other USMC stuff... holy relics of WW2.

He passed away of a sudden merciful heart attack in 1987. He spent the years from 1944 to 1987 'fighting' PTSD due to the long arduous hours of intense personal face-to-face hand-to-hand combat on Peleliu Island and Okinawa island with battle-hardened soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army. In the heat, in the jungle, under extremely bad circumstances. The Japanese would not give up. Uncle Ed checked-out of this popsicle-stand fast and bypassed the entire 'nursing home' stuff that hits a lot of the old folks. Good for him. He went ashore to a better beach ... a better place...

We found out about this stuff after he died.. he did not talk about it much.. God Bless all our combat vets of all wars, then and now.

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