He saw a world he didn’t know existed

By Dave Bielkins b.1966

My grandfather, Walter Bielkins, was born and raised deep in the North Carolina backwoods on a small, horse-powered farm.  They had jury-rigged electricity which they used for lights and the radio, but no running water.  He had never traveled much beyond the farm drive.

He enlisted right after Pearl Harbor and was sent to Fort Bragg.  He told me he had some trouble adapting to being in such crowded quarters along side so many strangers, but it was for the war.  His big shock came when he took a weekend pass to Fayetteville.  He had never even imagined what a city was like.  He was awed by so many cars and so many tall buildings.  He saw houses all jammed close together.  The restaurants and stores were a big shock as he had never been in either.  He wasn’t alone because there were other country boys in his unit all discovering the same thing.  He told me that with tens of thousands of boys being moved all around to new and different places, the war changed far more in the country – and in its soldiers –  than anyone could imagine.    He came home safely from Europe and lived to be 76


2 thoughts on “He saw a world he didn’t know existed”

  1. Your grandfather, like my dad, was part of the greatest generation. My father was too young for WW I and too old for WW II. The Second war changed them and they, in turn, changed the world.

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