WWII Veteran, Grandfather - Alexander M., Jr. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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My hero’s name is Alexander Mikita Jr. He was a paratrooper and demolitions expert during World War II and participated in missions on D-Day. He was in the 82nd Airborne Division, also known as the All-American Airborne.

My grandfather carried pounds of dynamite when he parachuted behind enemy lines and set the explosives on select targets such as bridges. Then he went to a predetermined place to be picked up. When they destroyed the bridges, the U.S. troops pushed the enemy back until they were trapped ­because they couldn’t get across the river.

But this isn’t the main reason I chose my grandfather as my hero. I picked him because while he was on a mission in Germany, he was shot in the back three times while parachuting to a target. He had to get to the Rhine River to meet up with a boat, but it was docked on the other side, so he managed to swim across to rejoin his squadron. My grandfather also took part in D-Day, and battles in the South African and European theatres, and Siberia.

My grandfather joined the army when he was 20 and won many awards, ­including the Purple Heart. He was also mentioned in the book Those Devils in Baggy Pants: “Private Alexander Mikita reached the beach after the last boat had left. Peeling off his clothes, he swam back, being carried downstream six miles before he reached the other side.”

I only knew him for a short time because he died from a heart attack when I was seven. I remember he used to babysit my sister and me. He never talked about the war, not even to my dad or uncle. My grandfather is important to me because he showed me what sacrifice and commitment really mean.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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