We hear about combat in the news all the time. The fighting and gruesome endings. But it's not something soldiers take lightly. In fact, many who've served through the years still refuse to talk about it. For Thomas Chounard, the most painful memory was after his tour of duty ended.
"I don't talk too much about combat per say, because I’m dealing with death all the time. Aways talking about death and combat. I've seen to many of my buddies killed.”
Thomas Chounard served in the marines back in the WWII. He received two purple hearts, one of which was given to him after he was wounded in combat, just days before his tour of duty was to end.
Thomas Chounard says, “I was brought back to a hospice ship and brought back to the US, where I spent 19 months in recovery learning how to walk all over again. I’m very proud."
Recovering from his battle wounds here at home, Thomas received painful news that one of his friends was killed overseas..
"They said they found his body and are shipping him home to Philadelphia. We would like to have you meet the body and escort it to the funeral. I said I'd be honored."
The night before the funeral Thomas was in Philadelphia at Saint Anne's Episcopal Church, talking to his fallen friend, George, and reminiscing old times..
"And his mother came in and she couldn't talk English. She sat there with me and she would tell me to talk. I talked to George, and she would hold my hand."
Thomas went to bed that night at his hotel near the church. But around 2:00 that morning, he heard strange noises coming from that area. Thomas got dressed and walked over to the church.
"The lights were on in the church. There were some people. I looked down in the church and their were two caskets, instead of one. I couldn't understand. There as a young priest there, I asked him who was in the other casket. He said that's his brother.” Thomas Chounard explains.
Thomas couldn't believe what he was hearing. George's brother was killed in Europe and was sent back to be buried at the same time.
"And then I sat back in the back isle. Soon his mother came back and took a chair. This memory will stay with me all my life. The mother took one hand and put it in one casket and the other hand in the another casket. She stayed that way until I went to bed. They buried them next to each other."