Goodbye to Joe and all the hero veterans

Published 6:15 am Wednesday, November 8, 2023

By Harold Brummett
Denmark Star Route

(Written in 2014)

I first met Joe Carmichael at a 35th Infantry Division Reunion. I had a rendezvous with my father Audley at the reunion in Atchison, Kan., many years ago. 

Email newsletter signup

Joe said that he was looking for the soldier that pulled him off the battlefield in France. That would have been my father Audley and a friendship began that continued until Joe passed away July 1, 2013. 

It was on Nov. 23, 1944, and A Company, led by Captain Strong, advanced on the French town of Hilsprich. A Company attacked until it fizzled out due to lack of participants able to continue the fight on the American side. Shrapnel wounded Joe, with one piece entering his chest, passing through his lung and exiting near his spine. Joe said before he passed out he remembered looking down seeing the entry wounds smoking. The hot shrapnel had cauterized the wounds in their passing. 

Joe had been injured about noon and as the day passed, all he could see around him was dead or wounded. Eventually Joe was wounded again, this time blinded by a scalp wound that bled into his eyes that he couldn’t wipe away. Joe joined several others calling out for help. 

As darkness came and cover from snipers, an American came across Joe. That American asked Joe if he could walk and Joe replied, “To get out of here I can.” These words repeated 45 years later to identify the man who helped Joe off the battlefield. 

Despite wounded himself, Audley stood Joe up and one leaning against the other made their way to the medics. 

Audley was a walking wounded while Joe quickly triaged out to a field hospital then on to England, his war over. Dad on the other hand, despite being shot through the leg, was sent back to the line after a couple of weeks, bandaged and still bleeding as men were needed with his expertise for the Battle of the Bulge. 

Joe and Audley were close after finding one another again. Calling each other two and three times a month. Never speaking for long, just assurance the other was there.  

About a month or so after Joe and Audley found one another, Dad got a letter from Joe’s daughter. In that letter, she thanked Audley for picking her father up off the battlefield. She wrote that her existence, the loving marriage of her parents Joe and Sue, her own husband and their children was due to one American reaching out to another and helping him to safety. 

With the exception of my father, A Company 137th Infantry Regiment of the 35th Infantry Division of the Second World War, as far as we know, is all gone now.

When my father entered hospice care, occasionally he would speak to people who had long passed away. The most frequent name called out was Joe. At first, we thought it was Joe Allen –  Audley’s favorite uncle. As my father’s time grew short, the more strident he became in asking Joe to wait for him. 

The realization came that it was Joe Carmichael Audley was seeing. I became convinced Joe was returning the battlefield good deed by easing my father’s passing and helping him to safety.  My father rejoined Joe and the veterans of A Company on Jan. 4, 2016.