Editor’s Note

Last spring I started researching the story of my great uncle Paul Clum, a paratrooper killed in the Philippines during World War II. His death was a great source of sorrow for my grandfather, and I wanted Uncle Paul to be remembered even after those who knew him were gone.

With help from the 503rd Heritage Battalion, I was able to reconstruct much of the last two years of Paul’s life serving with the Army 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team. I put out a call to others who may have served with him.

One morning last summer, I got an e-mail from the daughter of Uncle Paul’s service buddy Virgil. He had passed away a few years earlier but left a written memoir of his best friend, my Uncle Paul.

They had fought together in the Battle of Corregidor in February 1945.

Virgil was injured and spent the next few months in the hospital; Paul went on to other campaigns, including the island of Negros, where he died in May of that year.

Sixty-five years later, I sat on my kitchen floor and cried as I read about my uncle and his friend and all the other brave men they served with. I started to understand the magnitude of their sacrifice.

Just weeks later, I met another veteran of the 503rd, current DU student Neil Duncan, who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan in 2005. I felt an instant connection — here was a young man who had joined the paratroopers at 18, just like my uncle. A young man who answered his country’s call when the rest of us stayed home. A young man who paid a price for that service. (Read more about Neil in this issue’s cover story, “Climbing Back.”)

And in December, I heard from former University of Denver Magazine intern P.J. Glavey (BSBA ’07), who joined the Marines after graduation. In October, he lost both of his legs in Afghanistan; he took his first steps on prosthetics in January.

I protested the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. But now I have a different message for P.J., Neil, and all the men and women serving, or who served in wars past: Thank you.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *