It is always special when you are recognized from doing work from the heart.
The following is the article:
"Our Hero"In our busy life, with all of our zest to address the adversities of the present and grease all of those squeaky
wheels that come our way, we often fail to notice the beauty and distinction of the individual lives that touch us
each and every day.
So, this was me, until I talked with my tenant, here at Burns, Donald Trudeau. Donald, an 87 year old, quiet
unassuming man, comes and goes each day without fanfare, usually attending the Senior Center where he is
currently vice president. One would not assume that Donald was extraordinary in any way, a decent appearing man
though he is. In contrast to his appearance Donald Trudeau is an amazing individual and through his dedication to
our country and his ability to survive the storms of war, Donald has directly or indirectly touched us all. He is one of
our heroes and yes, right here at Burns Apartments.
It was 1939; the end of the Great Depression and Donald joined the CCC Camp for an initial 2years. The Civilian
Conservation Corps (CCC) was a work relief program for young men from unemployed families, established on March
21, 1933 by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As part of Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation, it was designed to
combat unemployment during the Great Depression. Donald served a total of four years in the CCC working to save
the White Pines from Gypsy Moths and, later, cutting roads through the huge, rock mountains of Idaho.
In 1939, Donald joined the National Guard; B Company. He was inducted into the regular Army in 1940 where he
would spent the next nine years of his life. On the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, Donald was rousted from
his sleep to be informed that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. He was bleary eyed and did not even know what Pearl
Harbor was or where it was. He recalls, “I just wanted to go back to sleep”. Nevertheless, Donald was catapulted
forward into what would be the experience of his life - World War II.
Sometimes tearfully Donald recalled to me what followed this life altering morning of 1941. After being shipped to
Hawaii to wait for supplies, he was deployed to the islands in the Pacific Theater to engage the enemy wherever and
whenever possible. Donald participated in five major battles and is one of the few survivors of the Battle of Saipan.
The bombing of Saipan began on June 13,1944. Fifteen battleships were involved, but Donald was on the ground. He
was in the infantry. He recalls being overrun by the enemy and digging into the ground underneath a disabled
Japanese tank. Japanese soldiers were all around him running, shooting, yelling and for five or more hours, he kept
silent under the tracks of the enemy tank. Finally, he emerged to find all of his squad lying still, scattered like
confetti across the terrain. The nickname given by the Americans to describe the features of this battle was “Hell’s
Pocket”, yet, Donald survived somehow.
Wounded by shrapnel twice, during these years; in the hand and knee, Donald earned his Purple Heart along with six
additional combat medals. He was also awarded medals for Expert in Combat Weaponry and Expert in Infantry
Combat. Although Donald can recall dozens of similar scenarios, he humbly contends that if it were not for luck, he
would not be here today.
Following the war in 1945, Donald joined the Merchant Marines and served an additional three and a half years
during the period of reconstruction. In 1939, he married his wife of 49 years, Phyllis. Although he lost her in 1992,
he has two children that are dear to his heart. During his married years until retirement, Donald
was a steel worker, achieving the title of Hammer - Smith.
We can all be grateful for Donald and men and women like him that in large part, in the twilight
of their years, go unnoticed for their sacrifices and/or achievements in the past. Still, these
extraordinary men and women are among us and touch us often without our knowing. Meeting
Donald Trudeau was, for me, a touchstone to the past; a wonderful discovery of humanity and
bravery. We are blessed and honored to have him with us.
Carl G. Bruce