Veterans Day. On the calendar, it appears but once. November 11, to be exact. However, Veterans Day should be every day.
Think about it: Every veteran willingly offered to protect us and, if needed, to die for us. Immeasurable suffering and sacrifices color the pages of history and profoundly affect families forever.
That’s why Veterans Day should be every day.
In order to create a vivid image of heroism, the story of every fallen hero, wounded warrior, POW, and other heroic veterans should be told. One such story is of an Iowan, the late Glenn McDole.
Not long before Glenn McDole passed away, our paths crossed with this American hero. He was one of the rightfully honored heroes at an event where Stacie sang the National Anthem. We felt deeply grateful to have the opportunity to recognize his heroism, thank him from our hearts, and shake his hand.
His story riveted us and, to this very day, we are moved whenever we think of him:
It was 1940. In homes across America, loud radios (not TVs) reported on the distant rumblings in Europe. An Iowan teenager decided to help. Glenn McDole decided that he would do the right thing and joined the U.S. Marine Corps to serve his country. Initially, it was more what a teenager would imagine it would be: He was first stationed in the Philippine Islands. But then Pearl Harbor changed everything.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded the Philippines. The sounds of war raged for months. Finally, McDole and his buddies came to the sobering conclusion: No reinforcements were coming to their rescue.
Glenn McDole later recounted, “We knew there was no way in heaven acres (after we'd heard what happened at Pearl Harbor) that we was gonna get any help.”
They were dreadfully outnumbered, but they gave it their best fight. Finally, the larger Japanese force won out and the American troops officially surrendered on April 9, 1942. But not McDole: He kept fighting until he was captured on May 6th on the island of Corregidor.
“I'll tell you, it's the most sick feeling you get when you look up and see old glory come down and a Japanese flag goes up. It just made you feel like a bunch of men without a home,” recalled McDole.
Now a prisoner of war, the Japanese marched McDole through Manilla to Bilibid Prison. Hideous abuse ensued: Glenn and the other POW’s were mocked, lied to, starved, beaten, and killed in cold blood. The death rate soared.
Death and devastation became a daily experience: Each day, Glenn would watch the Japanese carry out more bodies to bury.
Glenn McDole had known hard work back home in Iowa. Yet nothing compared to the abuses and slave labor demanded by the Japanese. He would receive food and water — sometimes. Glenn McDole’s days as a POW were filled with marching for miles and heavy labor; he never knew when he would get food or water.
At the Cabanatuan Prison Camp, McDole endured conditions which made survival almost impossible. His captors were the definition of inhumane. He decided to volunteer for the work details away from the camp. Glenn was ultimately sent to the Palawan Island Prison Camp where he helped build an air strip.
In 1944, Allied forces finally inched closer to the prison. In order to prevent the rescue of prisoners of war by the advancing Allies, the Japanese heinously started killing POWs in what is now known as the Palawan Massacre.
On December 14, 1944, the Japanese began putting gas in the trenches to make our American soldiers into human torches. Glenn’s trench loomed on the edge of a cliff. He and 20 other men stood in the trench with him. But Glenn was determined to fight for his life — even if he died trying.
Glenn came up with a plan to save their lives: He told them to knock a hole through the side. If a bomb hit the trench before something else happened, then the holes would give them an escape route. Then the Japanese starting mercilessly killing the men.
Desperate to escape, Glenn jumped off the cliff onto a beach where garbage from the past three years provided hiding places. He hid in the garbage pile for two days. Next, he hid in coral caves, slogged through swamp and jungle, and swam across a channel before reaching help from Filipino rescuers.
Out of 139 men, only 11 survived the Palawan Massacre and Glenn was one of them. In fact, Glenn McDole was the last man out.
After his daring escape, McDole became a heroic key witness in the War Crime Trials of 1945. He continued to serve his country in the Iowa State Patrol and the Polk County Sheriff's Department. Ultimately, he returned to Iowa where he married and had a wonderful family. Sadly, Glenn passed away in 2009, but in June 2019 his memory and valor were aptly honored at a medal ceremony: U.S. Senator Joni Ernst presented thirteen medals, ribbons, and pins to McDole's two daughters, Kathy McDole and Glenda Johnson. The honors included a Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal.
This Veterans Day, remember heroes like Glenn McDole, who survived as a POW for approximately three years and defended our lives. This Veterans Day, the least we can do is set aside some time, money, and say prayers for those who have served. Reach out to heroes in your communities and thank them for their service.
Later, even when it’s not officially Veterans Day, notice the hero with a hat describing his or her service. And make that day another Veterans Day. After all, every day should be Veterans Day.
Whether singing for U.S. presidents from a young age or launching national outreach events for veterans, Stacie Ruth and Carrie Beth Stoelting have desired to share God’s love and hope in order to unite the USA in a positive way. They have appeared repeatedly on major media, founded Unite the USA, written and been featured in books, and recorded albums in order to share God’s love, hope, and help for veterans and citizens. Whether hosting a weekly radio program or launching an outreach for veterans and their families, Stacie and Carrie are Millennials on a mission. Currently, they are in doctoral programs and feel excited to share a thoroughly Christian, patriotic, and positive message with America. Carrie and Stacie, along with Stacie's husband, Jim, live in the beautiful state of Iowa. Sign up for their monthly newsletter at UnitetheUSA.org and a weekly devotional at PrayingPals.org. To read more of their reports — Click Here Now.
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