Grandpa hides a small box of still-shiny medals away in a drawer where no one can find them.

“War is hell,” he said flatly.

He won’t talk about the war further. He never saw combat. He said it was terrible, whatever he saw.

It was 1943, the height of World War II. At seventeen, my grandfather Bill and his classmates skipped out of classes at West High to join the navy. D-Day in June of 1944 did not end the fight against the Japanese in the South Pacific where he was stationed. The liberation campaign only began in the fall of 1944, ending when fighting stopped on August 15, 1945. My grandfather served until 1946, when on July 4th the US granted the Philippines independence.

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