There's no doubt war is hell. Just ask Bob Albro. He was there in 1945 when the U.S. Army liberated the Dachau concentration camp in Southern Germany.
"That was pretty gruesome," remembers Albro, who lives in Liverpool. Bob is a member of the village's American Legion Post 188, whose veterans are the subject of a new Liverpool Legends video produced by Liverpool Public Library.
The war crimes could be hard to stomach and harder yet to understand, but so could human error. John Grom was an Army mailman north of Saigon during the Viet Cong's Tet Offensive in 1968, but what he remembers most vividly is the friendly fire that accidentally took the lives of American soldiers at Camp Red Ball.
Too busy to worry
While death and destruction characterize the "art" of war, lighter moments also flicker in the memories of the men who fought them.
In the new DVD, "The Veterans of Post 188," Navy vet Dino Paschetto recalls proposing to his future wife, Ida Cairus, via V-mail. It took him some 30 days to receive her response.
"Weren't you anxious to hear from her?" asked interviewer Linda Loomis.
"Yeah, but we were pretty busy," Paschetto said. Busy is right. Paschetto was working feverishly repairing vessels on the Admiralty Islands in preparation for the invasion of the Philippines in the Pacific Theater.
Bill McGee, an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War, recalls a happy accident, landing a single-prop plane sideways during a windstorm. Marines helicopter mechanic Roy Johnson remembers the way monsoon season simply washed the weeks away.
"There was no such thing as weekends," Johnson said. "Every day was the same - months of rain, 24 hours a day."
Johnson returned to active duty more than 30 years later as a commander of a tank platoon in the Persian Gulf War. Besides liberating Kuwait, he accomplished his personal goal.