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June 24, 2008 - 4:56pm

Video: World War II Veteran Louis O'Geen

posted by Philip Anselmo in veterans, video, world war two.

Eighty-six-year-old Louis O'Geen tells me that the "guy upstairs" took all of his friends from him, all his hunting and fishing buddies, and he's the only one left. He seems resigned to the fact, though slightly bemused by his own good fortune, if he would ever call it that. Probably not. But he isn't above getting a laugh out of it.

Louis fought in World War II. He saw the gore, the portent, the indecipherable anomaly of war up close, nose to nose with bodies chewed to the marrow and eyes sick with the madness of submerged warfare. Louis was a seaman. He joined with the Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor, left his native LeRoy and was dispatched with little haste to some of the most hairy battle theaters in the Pacific and elsewhere.

When the German U-Boats were wreaking havoc not far from Casablanca, he was there. He saw bulkheads torn to shreds. He saw the deck of his destroyer, its hawsers and rails coated two inches thick with ice. He saw the fizzle and flotsam of ships sunk like tinker toy bath boats poked underwater by the vengeful finger of a child.

"I had many close shaves," he says.

Louis almost joined up as a submariner. Almost. Until he saw the subs come up to dock, beaten and barely afloat, ambulances parked on the shore, waiting for the wounded and cracked as they were taken back from the sea that had swallowed their minds whole, often along with some of their limbs.

Ironically, though, the one episode of the war that nearly knocked out Louis O'Geen for good came after the war was already over, in the waters just off the shore of Okinawa when a typhoon tore through the Pacific in early October, 1945. (I think that typhoon was named Louise, and isn't that apt.)

Louis told me that he thought World War II would be the last war. He couldn't imagine how we could do it all over again. Then came Vietnam. Then came Iraq. He's quite fierce in his opposition to the war in Iraq. When I paid Louis a visit Monday, he showed me a drawing he made not long after he got out of the service. The drawing summed up his then and future feelings about war, feelings one can only understand when listening to Louis tell his stories. So let's do that:

Lorie Longhany
Lorie Longhany's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: May 2 2008 - 10:33pm
I am privileged to know and call Louie a friend. He has shared his artwork with me and I am amazed at how talented he is. His cartoon depicting war is as timely now as it was when he created it more than 60 years ago. Thank you, Philip, for sharing this amazing story of one of our own from the greatest generation. And thank you, Louie O'Geen.
Thomas Gahr
Thomas Gahr's picture
Last seen: 7 years 10 months ago
Joined: Jun 17 2008 - 1:22pm
Philip, Wonderful story, and excellant video. Keep up the good work. The Batavian is becoming a regular part of my daily routine. I look forward to logging in each day to see what's going on in B-town. And a big thank you to Louie, and all Veterans for the untold sacrifices they made so that we can enjoy this wonderful gift of freedom. God Bless, Tom
Philip Anselmo
Philip Anselmo's picture
Last seen: 12 years 1 month ago
Joined: Apr 22 2008 - 11:00am
Thank you so much, Thomas. All of the credit really should go to Louis O'Geen, a great guy who let me into his home and told me his story, no questions asked. I was glad just to be able to share that story with others.
Patrick D. Burk
Patrick D. Burk's picture
Last seen: 8 years 10 months ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:27pm
What else can be said... My Dad was a World War II Veteran and my older brother fought in Vietnam. As a family we always were amazed at the stories that my Dad would tell about the service. He caught malaria and he lived with that for the rest of his life. My brother was severly wounded in Vietnam. Dad too was amazingly opposed to War. Thank you Mr. O'Geen for bringing some of those thoughts of my Dad back into my mind. You are all heros.
daniel cherry
daniel cherry's picture
Last seen: 3 years 9 months ago
Joined: May 6 2008 - 2:21pm
I really enjoyed this video.I remember when Joe Mikolajczyk was alive.He used to tell me stories about the war WW11.I could have sat all day and listened to more.Thanks to people like Louie O'Geen for doing what they did for us.And for sharing his story.Alot of people don't like to talk about it.I was all for the war in the beginning.I felt like lets get em look what they did to us the USA.Then i found out about how the government was wrong about weapons of mass destruction.I don't feel the same anymore.I agree with Louie i dont agree with the war anymore.I feel bad for our Vets over there.And i wish our Government would help the vets who did what they were told to.They deserve way more when they get back from that hellish place.It must be very hard for them to readjust when they get back.They are taught to kill by our government.Then some of them come back and get in trouble.Some are even homeless.My one friend was in iraq when they didn't tell them about the poison gas.He can't get help because he was in the guard.He had to go on disability and he has a traq.His story made me angry.They fought for us and did what they were told.An darnit our govrnment could do way more for them.I'd say bring our boys home soon real soon.It will never end.They been fightin for thousands of years over there not that it's right.Isn't it like the game risk.Ya have most of your men there.What about here?What about the cost of the war?Is the war helping ruin our economy and drivin up gas prices too?Mostly i just wanted to say thanks to the people who fought fer us and also died for us...dan

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