Marlborough resident Linda Rennie wrote this moving tribute about her father, Jack Coutu, a member of the Greatest Generation.
Region – My father met my mother, December 31, 1941, New Year’s Eve. What a terrible time to fall in love, as Pearl Harbor events had just happened. My mother lived in Bellingham and he had lived in the next town over, Franklin. He was home on leave from the army. They were married in April of 1943. The next year, when my mother was barely pregnant with me, he was shipped to war. On June 6, 1944, this 24 year old man, stood on the shores of England watching his friends go to Omaha Beach. Most of whom he would never see again. Approximately June 10 (I am unsure of the exact date) he would go ashore to help set up the station at the taken beach. The horror scene of the bodies everywhere, floating in the sea, on the beach. That is all I know about it from him, because he never spoke any more about it. My dad was a man of great faith. What he spoke about was the excitement of after being on the beach for a week, he got my birth notice. What a time to find out you are a father. Watching his face every time he told me about getting my birth notice, let me know that the world was going to be okay. This year as I celebrated my birthday, I think of this.
My dad went on to the Battle of Bulge. There he was wounded. He received the Purple Heart with oak clusters, because he had a wound in his neck, his arm and in his leg, at three different battle incidents. He also received the Silver Star for heroism. I have a beautiful write up from his home town newspaper in Franklin about his heroic actions and pulling men out from machine gun fire. He always felt his faith and his relationship with God brought him home.
Of course the war did not end there for him. He came home in June of 1945. He was 25 and my mother was 20. Together this young couple coped with his nightmares, his health struggles from his wounds, and the fact that the government did not come through with his financial aid for many years (16 years). Because of their faith, love and desires to find happiness, my parents coped, raising four children. They had a nice home, good family relationships, a wonderful Holliston friendships. I believe this is because of their firm foundation of faith and love.
Together, in 1969 they watched their son, go to Vietnam. I feel for men who were in WWII, watching their sons go to war was twice the burden. My brother, safely returned in 1972, but the burden of worry and stress for my parents and family that happened could not be taken back.
My dad died in 2005. My mom died in 1998. That was the biggest heartbreak of his life. My brother and I had the privilege of being with my dad the years after my mother’s death. Until the day he passed, he had the nightmares of the war. I saw for the first time, that he was not just the hero, but so was my mother. It is amazing what faith and love can do.
Happy Fourth of July! It is men like my dad and brother that make this day possible.
Recently someone asked me this question: What is the difference if you believe there is a God or not? And I thought of so many, many “differences,” but my Dad’s war story is one of the biggest.