John, Al, Mike & Joe Pina
The above picture carries very special memories for me. I’m sure my brothers and numerous cousins feel the same way. It was proudly displayed in my grandparent’s living room. I hadn’t seen the picture for a very long time, but we recently borrowed it from one of my cousins, to have copies made.
The picture is of my dad (John) and 3 of his brothers. They all served overseas during WWII at the same time.
I don’t remember too many details of the contents of my grandparent’s house. I remember the glass coffee percolator almost as well as the picture. It fascinated me. I used to watch it closely to try to figure out what made the water shoot up to the top of the pot and drain through the coffee grounds. It was magic! So when I saw one for sale in a second hand shop years later, I just had to buy it. Still works great – I used it the weekend before last. Always reminds me of my grandparents. And even though I now know how it works, it’s still magical!
But I remembered the picture for other reasons. Sentiments that I can’t put into words. There were lots of war movies made during that era. Brave men fighting & dying in far-away places. My dad & my uncles had been to those far-away places and had experienced the horrors of war. But they didn’t talk about it much, at least not around us kids. So the war movies fed my imagination about their travels and combat experiences. And the picture symbolized all of it.
They have all passed on now. I wish I knew more about their war time experiences. In the Napa Register obituary for my uncle Al, it states: “During his tour of duty in Germany, he was able to meet up with two of his three brothers that were also serving in the Army.”
To the best of my memory, this is what brought the 3 of them together:
My father was in a tower at a prisoner of war camp in Germany when a storm knocked it down. He was injured and trapped under the framework. The prisoners had to help lift the tower to free him. Somehow, in this pre-cell phone era, his brothers found out that he was in the hospital. And two of them were able to make their way to the hospital to visit him. This was war-time Germany. How does something like that happen? The story may have involved a “borrowed” military jeep or truck and some unauthorized leave of absence, but to my knowledge, the story was never put in writing. And that’s a shame.
* * * * *
One of the reasons our grandfather left Spain in 1911 at the age of 21 was to avoid being drafted into the Spanish Military. At least that’s what we were told.
But in 1942, at the age of 52, my grandfather registered for the draft. He had become an American and was ready & willing to fight for his country.
He didn’t serve during WWII, but 4 of his sons did.
The following is from one of my earlier posts:
On October 12, 1911, John M. Pina & Maria (Mary) Pavon (and her family) boarded the British Steamship Willisden at Gilbralter and left Spain. Thirty five years to the month later, the Napa Register would report the following:
Joseph Pina, of Rutherford, is the fourth
Pina boy to return safely from the war.
His three brothers, Alfonso, John Jr. and Mike,
all returned earlier.
Mike, John Jr., Joe, Alfonso
Yes, they all came home
So on this Veteran's Day, to all of our veterans,
our war dead, and those currently serving,