War is Hell. Ask anyone who has been there and the story is the same. Still, amidst the death and destruction; despite the hating and the killing, humanity shines through, a beacon and a sentinel letting us know there is hope our spirit of good will prevail. Frank and Jean Bausmith lived through the ravages but stood as a beacon of goodness in the face of inhumanity. This is their story:
Frank was a quarterback and Jean was a cheerleader. She wanted a football boyfriend for whom she could root and he admits he was watching Jean from afar. They were both shy, but through the encouragement of friends, and the intervention of the local paperboy, who asked Jean if she would go out with frank, they began a dating relationship that was described as “back and forth.” Then came December, 1941…
The Japanese attack on December 7, 1941 was something Frank could not ignore. “Pearl Harbor,” he recalled, “was what turned us on to joining the service. That was it. We had to do something, so I volunteered.” He enlisted in the Marine Corps and served honorably as a medic with the 4th Marine Division. Frank got a Purple Heart after a Japanese hand grenade hit him. In another attack, while attending to a fellow Marine, he was wounded, again, when a Japanese bullet went through a palm tree and stuck in his arm. The wound was so minor that he didn’t get a Purple Heart for it. The real magic of Frank’s time in the war, however, wasn’t his valor under fire. It wasn’t the wounds he received nor was it the many fierce battle locations he survived, places like Saipan, Okinawa and Iwo Jima. The real magic was the humanity he maintained despite the inhumanity around him.
At Saipan, fighting was characteristically fierce and the Japanese held tightly to every inch of ground. They had convinced the local people that surrender to the Americans would bring unthinkable horrors, so many committed suicide or tried anything, regardless of how desperate, to avoid capture. In a cistern the Marines found bodies of dead civilians who had hidden themselves there and died. Frank saw a baby move and jumped into save him. A fellow Marine sent the baby to the aid station. Amidst the horror, humanity survived. In his personal life, too, Frank put love above the fray. Here is their story…
Frank and Jean maintained a long distance romance by mail. He recalls that letters came from her every other day, under most conditions. Sometimes the war interrupted mail flow, so occasionally a week would go by with no letters in the mail pouch. He wrote, faithfully, every day.
The romantic intensity grew as the months and even years passed and Frank even bought a ring while on leave and sent it to jean, with no explanation. The price tag was still on it. She decided that, as she remarked, “it better be an engagement ring” and she put an engagement announcement in the newspaper. When Frank returned home, he asked Jean when she thought they might marry. She asked him: “What are you doing next Saturday at 4:00PM?” They have been married for sixty-seven years.
War is Hell. Still, somewhere beyond the horror, humanity can survive.
I hope you will support me (and hundreds of World War 2 enthusiasts and volunteers around the world) in challenging American teens across America, who are interested in military history, to participate in the iHistory Project-WW2. We are committed to preserving these great World War 2 stories and memories and to bringing them to life so future generations will understand and appreciate the events of this conflict and how they shaped our world.
For more information, visit the I-History Project-WW2 or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org