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The Bloomfield Brothers at Arms
As the ships swayed back and forth on the waves of the beautiful blue ocean, the bright yellow sun was rising above the horizon. Ironically, this quiet time of the morning was interrupted by bombs exploding on ships while young boys slept. The date was December 7, 1941, a day “that would live in infamy.”
Far away, thousands of miles from Hawaii, three brothers were preparing for another day of chores on the family farm. Unfortunately, the actions of the Japanese air force would change their lives and the lives of many American families.
This is the story of the three Bloomfield brothers. The oldest is John who is 24, George is the second oldest who is 21, and the youngest is Pete, who is 18. The Bloomfield family lives in Earlville, which is a small town in Iowa. They live on a nice farm, which their dad kept in good shape over the years. One day while working on the farm, they went in for lunch and listened to the radio like they always did each day. Their mom said, “Why do you have to have that darn radio on every single day?” when all of a sudden they heard “Breaking News!” blaring from the radio. George leaped up from the table to turn up the volume so everyone could hear it. The breaking news was, “Pearl Harbor has been attacked!” President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan the very next day.
The entire country was still in shock from yesterday’s tragic event. However, in many ways, today was just like any other day as Pete walked through town to go to the library. He made this trip every day for the past year as Pete loved to read. Pete loved how the books spoke to him. Yet, this day was very different considering the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. As Pete made his way to the library, a man came up to him and said, “Son we are recruiting for the army.” “How old are you?”
“I am 18,” Pete replied. Then, the man just pointed to the YMCA where many men were signing up for the army. All of a sudden, Pete dashed home to tell his brothers. While he was running home, he knew he had no intention of joining the army, but his brothers were different. They were both tough kids and they were great football and baseball players. They were so tough that they ate nails for breakfast! On the other hand, Pete was very different. He enjoyed watching sports, but he was only an average athlete. However, he was really smart. In fact, he graduated at the top of his class in high school. His brothers were smart too, but not as smart as Pete. When Pete returned home, his brothers were having a baseball catch out on the lawn. Pete said, “Hey guys, people are signing up for the war.”
George replied, “Actually, John and I were just talking about that.”
John said, “We’re thinking about joining.”
George said, “If you sign up, then they will probably place us in the same regiment.” Pete was not so sure that he wanted to join the army. He did not know what to say. He knew his dad would let them all go because his dad was in World War I where he won the Medal of Honor. Pete went inside to talk to his mom. He knew she would understand how he felt. Pete spoke to his mother, “Hey mom what are you doing?”
His mother replied, “Oh, hi Pete. I am just looking through my recipes.”
Pete started to talk, but did so in a nervous tone, “Mom, people are signing up for the army and George and John are going to join.”
Pete added, “I am not so sure if I want to go.” Mom was always the one who had the great advice.
His mother stated, “Well, I would go Pete because you will be drafted anyway if you do not go with your brothers. John and George will look out for you.” “We always have to do something in life that we do not want to do.”
Pete replied, “That is a good point. I feel better now. Thanks mom!” Pete ran outside to talk to his brothers. Pete said, “I will sign up with you guys. All three of us will be together and we will be okay.”
George mentioned, “Let’s go to town and sign up.” All three brothers rushed into town thinking about what would happen after they put their names on that list. They arrived at the YMCA. The soldiers who were there just said to put down their name and address and to be prepared to leave in two days for training at Camp Gruber, which was in Oklahoma. The three brothers walked home and were wondering what awaited them. Pete, in particular, was very nervous about their upcoming training and what they might experience during the war. The two days passed as fast as a locomotive going 100 miles an hour. As the boys left to join the army, mom and dad said, “All three of you be careful and come home safe.”
John said, “Don’t worry about us. We will be fine.”
John, George, and Pete walked to town. When they arrived in town, there were many men getting on the bus. The bus ride took twenty hours. Finally, the bus arrived in Oklahoma. The camp was huge. The officers called roll call and the men put their belongings in the bunks. Everyone was given a uniform with their names on them. They were told that the training would begin the very next day. The preparation consisted of intense weapons and physical training. After a month of brutal training, their company was being sent to Germany. All three brothers were privates. John was a rifleman, George had a Thompson, which was a machine gun, and Pete was a rifleman. The company arrived at the airbase where they were going to be dropped to their destination. Pete said, “I am scared. When we get out of this plane, it is the real deal.”
John said, “It will be okay. Do not think about it.”
The pilot yelled, “Fifteen minutes until it is time to jump.”
In the plane, there were about fifty men, who were going to join various ground troops. Everyone will be divided up into smaller squads of about fifteen men. All the men put on their parachutes. The green light went on and one by one each soldier jumped. They landed on the ground during the middle of the night. All of the soldiers went in a different direction. The three brothers were put into a squad of about eighteen men. Sergeant Smith was in charge of the squad, which included three corporals and the rest were privates. Sergeant Smith was briefing the troops about the many German soldiers roaming the area and how they needed to be taken out. This man was extremely tough looking. You could tell he put up with no nonsense. He had many scars on his face and you just knew that he was a real soldier. Sergeant Smith only had three rules which everyone followed: 1) “Do not do anything stupid, 2) Do not talk unless I tell you to and 3) Check the surrounding area at all times!” After receiving his rules, he directed the squad to set up camp and be ready to get up bright and early to complete their tasks.
The next day, the squad packed up and headed out. They were walking in the direction of a German base when Sergeant Smith said, “Everyone into the woods. Let’s make this job nice and quick.” The base was straight ahead. Sergeant Smith stated, “We are going to split up. Bloomfields, you come with me and you five too.” Then he added, “The rest of you flank the base from the other side.” The base was medium sized. It had a few soldiers at the front of it and snipers in small towers. The snipers had left their post. Sergeant Smith ordered John and George to take out the guards. They did as they were told and then quietly threw a rock close to the German soldiers’ feet. As the German soldiers looked down at the rock, both George and John jumped like rabbits and stabbed the guards. Both of them opened the gates and the squad entered the base. Half of the squad took out one part of the base and the other half took out the other part. Sergeant Smith opened the door and slipped into the base and said quietly, “There are about ten German soldiers in the room ahead.” Then, Sergeant Smith ordered one of the soldiers to throw a grenade. The grenade pin dropped on the ground and a few seconds later you heard a loud boom. The ten soldiers were dead.
Next, the squad cleared the rest of the rooms. The German soldiers shot back, but they were unprepared and the men had completed their task. The other half of the squad had similar success. No one was badly injured except for one soldier who was shot in the foot. They all exited the building after they set satchel charges all over and blew up the entire base. Sergeant Smith said, “Outstanding job everyone, especially the two Private Bloomfields!” Pete was nervous and did not fire one bullet and just stayed in the back of the squad the whole time. As they were looking to find a good place to establish camp, John said, “Hey Pete, what is going on? You didn’t fire a single bullet.”
Pete responded, “I don’t know. I guess I was scared or something.” Sergeant Smith overheard the conversation and said, “Pete, I know this is tough being the youngest in the squad and experiencing war for the first time, but you have to be strong and be a soldier.” Then he said, “Next time, I want to see you firing that weapon of yours.”
The next day, the squad was going to take out a train, which was transporting German supplies. As they were walking, Sergeant Smith was in the front and he stopped. No one knew what he was doing. One of the soldiers asked, “What is going on with Sergeant Smith?” All of a sudden, a bullet struck Sergeant Smith. He just laid on the ground with a pool of blood around him. IT IS AN AMBUSH!!! German soldiers popped out of the woods on both sides of the road and began shooting. A German soldier sprinted towards Pete, and, as he was about to be shot, Pete killed the German soldier. However, Pete was in the line of fire and was shot by a German machine gun. George yelled, “We have to get Pete!”
Pete says in a soft voice, “Go. You will both die if you try to save me, just go!”
John yelled, “You heard Pete! Let’s go into the woods!” George shot with his Thompson to clear the way of two German soldiers. Both of them bolted like lightning into the woods. They kept running and running.
Before they knew it, they were out of the woods and the German soldiers were far away in the distance. John and George sat down on a stump and saw the German soldiers throw the bodies of their comrades into the woods. George cried softly, “Oh my God, Pete is gone!”
John added, “We have to keep moving forward. Pete would have wanted us to continue to live.” As George and Pete considered their next steps, they began to reflect on the past. George said, “Hey John, remember when we were at the old park back home in Iowa?”
John replied, “Yeah, the place where we used to play baseball as kids.”
George said, “I remember when it was the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a man on 3rd base. Pete was up to bat and he hit a single to win the game.”
John said sadly, “Yup, those were the good old days. Let’s go! I don’t want those German soldiers finding us.” George and John walked slowly through the woods. Both of them kept walking so they could find fellow American soldiers. After a few days, John and George found another American squad. They explained what had happened to their squad. They joined the new squad and killed the German soldiers that wiped out the Bloomfield brothers' fellow soldiers. This new squad fought many more epic battles and they eventually joined the Russians in invading Berlin.
The war ended when the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were cities in Japan. George and John Bloomfield were both awarded the Medal of Honor for saving many soldiers’ lives. After they were awarded the Medal of Honor, both brothers visited the Veterans Hospital in Washington D.C. During their visit, they came to a room where one of the soldiers was sleeping. George said to the nurse, “Excuse me. I was just wondering who is in this room.” John noticed an old tattered book that looked like Pete’s favorite book, but he thought he was seeing things.
The nurse said, “A man named Pete Bloomfield.”
John said, “This is not possible. We have a brother that died in Germany named Pete Bloomfield.”
George asked, “Did this man come from Germany to this hospital?”
The nurse said again, “Yes, he is from Iowa. It says in his file that he has two brothers named George and John.”
John said, “THAT IS OUR BROTHER!!!” George and John rushed into the room and saw Pete lying in the bed.
George yelled, “Pete is that you?”
Pete said softly, “George, John is that you?”
John said, “Yeah we’re here.”
John said again, “How are you alive?”
Pete said, “That day after you two ran away from the Germans, I pretended I was dead. The German soldiers left and a few minutes later an American squad came by because they heard all the shooting. I was the only one to survive. I had four bullets in me, but they did not hit any major arteries so here I am. I won a purple heart because of it. I only killed one German. During my recovery, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about my experience in the war and about life. I realize now that family and friends are so important. Above all, I learned the most precious thing in life is life itself and that everyone should value it.”
Pete eventually recovered from his wounds. All three brothers are happily married and have many children. John lives in Delaware, Pete lives in Philadelphia and George lives in Pittsburgh. The three brothers developed a very successful business called “Bloomfield Branding”. Their business is an advertising agency, which was known worldwide. Also, they are guest speakers at many events where they speak of their experiences in World War II and how these experiences taught them many lessons about life.