Grandpa and pin-up girl grandma are my WWII heroes

Published: Monday, November 11, 2013 at 20:13 PM.

Today the nation honors men and women who have served our country with distinction. Many saw horrible things in faraway lands that more than a half-century later they still can’t talk about. Many World War II heroes lost limbs; many more died.

A few donned a swimsuit and posed for the camera.

One of my prized possessions is a 1940s photo of my grandma in “skimpy” clothing.

Young Myrtie Duval was 18 when she posed in what looks like a negligee but I am assured is a ’40s-era swimsuit. She was a candy girl at a suburban Chicago movie theater called The Terminal, where she had recently met the man she would one day marry.

Like many young men of the day, Lenny Johnson, went off to war. He asked Myrtie to marry him before he shipped out. She said no, and in my collection of photos is a photo of Lenny in a cap and gown with the inscription to my grandmother, “May I graduate into your heart.”

Like so many Americans, my World War II story is one that is reconstructed from a stray photo or two, burned records and stories that have been passed down so often that it’s hard to separate the fact from fiction.

My uncle told me Lenny was a signalman and one of the first men to cross the Remagen Bridge in Germany to set up a communication link. Later, a bomb apparently crashed through a building he was in but failed to detonate. So, miraculously, he survived to marry the cute girl behind the counter.



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