Posted by: SJS | October 6, 2020

Harry Truman – a hero of Red’s. “One tough SOB.”

Harry Truman’s Army ID card

When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, Vice President Harry S. Truman was sworn in as president. Truman had been vice president for all of 82 days. The war in Europe was almost over but the Pacific theater was another story altogether.

Losing FDR was a massive blow to the sailors and marines who were fighting an enemy, the forces of Imperial Japan, who was growing more desperate and dangerous by the day. The fighting was fierce, brutal, and often at close quarters. Casualties were heavy and growing heavier by the hour.

Harry Truman was an artilleryman in World War I. He enlisted at age 33 in 1917 and by August of 1918, he had been promoted to the rank of captain. He commanded an American field artillery unit that saw action in France.

Truman’s unit had a reputation for brawling, heavy drinking, and insubordination when he assumed command. He moved quickly to impose discipline and lay down the law. By the end of the war, Truman had earned the undying loyalty, respect, and admiration of his soldiers–loyalty that would last a lifetime and bolster his political career in Missouri.

A few years before his death in 1999, Red and I were talking about American presidents and the discussion turned to presidents who had served in the military. I was not familiar with Truman’s service in the First World War, and my father was only too happy to fill me in.

“It was tough to lose FDR when we did, ” he said. “But Truman stepped right up to the plate. I can’t imagine any president who had to take on a challenge that big. We learned very quickly that he was a real leader who had no problem making decisions.” I asked him what he thought of Truman as a man.

” Harry was one tough SOB,” my father said. “He didn’t take any shit from anybody.”

That was high praise from Red Stahley. Actually, it was the highest praise possible.

I can only remember one other person to whom my father paid that compliment — Chuck Bednarik, the legendary center and linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles. Like Red, Bednarik was a WWII veteran who served in the Army Air Force as a waist gunner on a B-24 Bomber. As an Eagle, Bednarik played both ways (offense and defense) and led Philadelphia to the 1960 NFL championship over the Green Bay Packers. That was one game Red loved to talk about. And it was that “tough SOB Bednarik” who delivered the victory for Philadelphia.

In speaking about the presidency, Harry Truman famously said, “The buck stops here.” And he lived by that credo. Contrast that with the buck-passing, blame shifting, spineless hyena who currently holds the highest office in the land — a pathetic degenerate who would not be worthy to shine the shoes of a man like Harry S. Truman.

President Harry Truman meets with Joseph Stalin, Premier of the Soviet Union, and Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, at the Potsdam Conference in 1945

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