VETERAN'S DAY 2012: ‘So proud to be your daughter’

My father is the first man in the line.

VETERAN'S DAY 2012: ‘So proud to be your daughter’

Seventy years after the World War II battle of Guadalcanal, a daughter finds her father's picture in the November 1943 issue of Life Magazine.

by: Catherine Ott
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published: November 10, 2012
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Editor’s note: As we pause to remember our heroes this Veterans Day, we’d like to share this story from Catherine Ott in San Diego, Calif. Here’s a look at the article (LINK) she refers to in her letter. Catherine, thank you.
This past summer I happened to visit the Palm Springs air museum which is home to one of the world's largest collections of flyable WWII aircraft.I was talking
with one of the docents who happened to mention something about an old Life Magazine. I told her that my dad's picture had appeared in an old Life Magazine during WWII, and that I had always wanted to find it. My efforts to locate the magazine from relatives and the Life Magazine Web site were unsuccessful, partly because I didn't know the date of the issue. With both of my parents deceased, I couldn't get more information so all I knew for sure was that my mother had said there was a picture of my father during WWII in Life Magazine. To my surprise the docent informed me that the museum maintained a library of Life Magazines and that some articles and photos were cross-indexed in the computer. I was really hopeful, but doubted I'd be able to narrow it down with what little I knew about the photo. My older brother remembered hearing it described as a column of Marines walking in either Tarawa or Guadalcanal and that my mother had said my dad's face was clearly visible. My father fought not only in the brutal battles of Tarawa and Guadalcanal, but also at the Chosen Reservoir in Korea and finally in Viet Nam, after which he retired from the Marine Corps. The museum volunteer was able to do a computer search with the little information I had and came up with 4 or 5 issues that might contain the picture. The third one we looked at looked fit the description perfectly. It was a snapshot of Marines from the 2nd Marine Division walking in a line, in Guadalcanal. The only distinguishable face was the first guy in the line. He looked extremely familiar, but because the picture was taken in 1942 when my father would have been only 19 years old I wasn't immediately certain it was him until it dawned on me that the Marine in the picture looked amazingly like my son, who of course looks very mich like my dad. Another confirming point was that the Marine, who was the first man in line in the photo, had an ammo pouch for a big weapon--not a regular rifle. My dad was a B.A.R. man in Guadalcanal. The magazine issue is dated the November 23, 1942, and the photo appears above an article by John Hersey entitled The Battle of the River.
I've always felt a little sad that my father, like most men of his era, never considered himself a hero, and was never really publicly honored for his extensive combat experience. This Marine Corps birthday and Veterans Day, some seventy years after this photo appeared, it seems appropriate and long overdue to do so now. Gy/Sgt. E. Gordon Bruce, USMC, I am extremely proud of the sacrifices you made for our country and so proud to be your daughter.
Thank you,
Catherine Ott
San Diego, CA November 2012
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