Did you know this about the IW Knights of Columbus?
With this episode we conclude the Paul Kerchum story. This incredible World War II veteran describes his return to a somewhat normal life. However, after spending significant time as a Prisoner of War and enduring cruel conditions inflicted by the Japanese military, why would he eventually returns to Japan? Read on and discover how and why he entitled his story ‘In My Heart, I Forgave”.
"Finding Love and Faith: After World War II, I joined the Air Force. In order to make a few extra dollars, I started to work at a beer garden. Every evening, this nice-looking 18-year-old lady came through the cafeteria. And all eyes were on her. One day, they sent her to the beer garden to get some food from the walk-in refrigerator. She walked in, and so did I. We talked a while, and I made a date with her. And it wasn’t long afterward that we got married.”
'When Gloria and I married, she put me on the right road, you know? Because I’ll admit, I was not much of a Catholic at that time. I remember one day I started talking about somebody. And she yelled at me, 'Cállate la boca!' ('Shut up!'). Then she said, 'Paul, one of the biggest sins is gossiping. And if you want to go to heaven, you better quit’."
"During the Korean War, I was stationed at Ashiya Air Force Base in Japan. Everybody used to ask me, 'Why did you go back to Japan?' Because I was a POW, I had an option not to go. But I told them, 'I want to go there.' Gloria and I talked all about it. And I talked to a lot of the Japanese people. And in my heart, I forgave them. That was how Gloria influenced me."
"We were married for 74 years and had two children. Gloria passed away Dec. 21, 2019 — a day does not pass that I fail to think about her."
"After serving 29 years — eight in the Army infantry and 21 in the Air Force — I retired in 1966 as a chief master sergeant. When I received my first retirement check, I said, 'I need to find a job.' So, I worked for several years at a hardware store and later as a real estate agent."
"I’ve spoken a lot over the years about my wartime experiences. One day in 1980, I went up to the podium at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Benson and I gave my talk. Afterward, some of the Knights got a hold of me and talked to me. And then I joined the Order as charter member of Logan De Rosier Council 7521 in Benson. I held many officer roles, including grand knight. It was the camaraderie of it. They were a good group, and they were for something."
"When I joined, I really joined, I really became involved. You could find me anytime on Friday or Saturday morning in front of Safeway or the post office raising funds for charity. I raised a lot of money, and I really liked what I was doing. So, to all Catholic men, I say join. And if you join, try to be active."
Links Related to this week’s column:
Service and Sacrifice
Knights of the “Greatest Generation” tell their stories of faith and courage as veterans of World War II
By Paul Kerchum, Tom Rossi and Louis Graziano, with Columbia staff - Columbia Magazine(11/1/2021)
Click here to read the article
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