August 27, 2016, Prescott- Last Sunday, I spent some time with a World War II veteran, retired from the U.S.Army, as a colonel, who commanded a battalion on Utah Beach, during the D-Day invasion, in 1944. He was fading, when I saw him, so I knew it was a matter of time, before his departure from our midst.
That passing came this evening, and John A. Mortimer, “only 96”, found himself looking down upon many friends who will miss his presence. His widow, a native of Britain, called him her “Laddie”. Certainly, during his years of service to his country, including time in the Battle of the Bulge, when he pushed his unit into Germany, with General Patton’s blessing, he moved with the swagger of youth- and made it count for something.
John was still on active duty during the Korean War, but stayed stateside, to monitor the testing of atomic weapons. It was a decent turn of events, that he did not suffer any ill effects from those unfortunate days.
He served, at our American Legion Post, as a member of the Honour Guard, and was its flag presenter at funerals and memorial services, for several years. John was also the first person one saw, on Sunday mornings, when breakfast was being served, as he was the cashier. All that ended, about 1 1/2 years ago, when he became confined to the VA Hospital here in town, and to a wheelchair.
His wit, and keenness for Turner Classic Movies, remained, though, until a couple of weeks ago, when the Good Lord let him know that it was time to start packing up for the journey homeward. That journey became complete, around 9:30 this evening.
We, his comrades at the Post, will honour John on Labour Day- looking back on his extraordinary life, and taking a cup o’kindness, for his service, and all those long ago days.