Intermission Stories (17)

Woody Gorback in Italy.

Woody Gorback in Italy.

Woody Gorbach

A local story

Woody Gorbach, a current resident of South Palm Beach County, had served with the 135th Battalion/34th Infantry Division/5th Army during WWII in the European Theater of Operations.  He was raised in Westport, Connecticut and enlisted at the age of 19.  “I felt I had to fight for the country.  I wanted to end the war.”

Woody sailed from Newport News, VA on a trip that would take 30 days and drew the attention from German bombers who tried their best to end the voyage.  Gorbach recalls, “…being sick and scared and excited.”  His first real fighting was at Monte Cassino, a hilltop abbey on the German defense line.  Multiple battles cost the Allies about 55,000 casualties.  Woody developed trench foot and was sent to a base in Africa.  When he returned to Italy, he discovered his unit had been wiped out.

Woody, photographed in April 2014 w/ his medals.

Woody, photographed in April 2014 w/ his medals.

He would later fight at Anzio beach where the German fought with the advantage of the high ground.  “A lot of casualties there,” he said.  “I thought my time was up.  After that I knew each day was a gift.”  He felt lucky and guilty and devastated to have lost so many friends.  “But when you’re 19, you didn’t think too much about it, you just did your job.”

Gorbach said he was one of the first to enter Rome, greeted joyfully by the Italians.  He slept that night at the foot of the Colosseum.  When asked if that meant on the ground, he replied, :Always on the ground.  We carried a blanket.  It’s not like there were hotels.”  As he looks back, he calls the years “Interesting.  They weren’t altogether bad because I met a lot of good people and brave soldiers.”

Woody in front of his real estate office.

Woody in front of his real estate office.

Retirement for Woody wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and at 90 years of age, he continues to work as a real estate broker in Manalapan, Florida.  His wife of 60 years, Lori, put his name in for the Honor Flight, which he recently took to Washington D.C.

Hats off to you, Woody Gorbach!

The facts and quotes were taken from an article written in the Palm Beach Post, by Kimberly Miller, Staff Writer.

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Current veteran’s story….

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ALERT  – 

Sheri deGrom

Sheri deGrom

Our fellow blogger and good friend, Sheri deGrom, could use our support right now.  Her husband Tom has been rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery and I hope each and every one of you will show her that we are behind her with our thoughts and prayers!  Thank you!

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Farewell Salutes – 

Please click on to read.

Please click on to read. From ANZAC

Joel “Shelly” Bienstock – Phoenix, AZ; US Army, Korea, Purple Heart

Thomas Carton – Hicksville, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Miami

Jack Dowdall – Pompano, FL; US Army, WWII

Steven A. Farris, Jr. – Alexandria, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Colonel, fighter pilot, West Point grad, 48th Combat Support Group, ETO

Herschel Ingram – Anchorage, AK; US Army, Sgt. (Ret.)

Clyde E. Keller – Berryville, AR; US Army, WWII, ETO, 742nd Field Artillery Battalion

Carl Moses – Sand Point, AK; US Army, Korea, artillery

Thomas O’Brien – Forestville, MD; US Army, Korea

Madison Post – Fond du Lac, WI; US Army, Lt. Col.(Ret.), ETO

James Roberts, Sr. – Fairfax, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 379th Bomber Group

Allan Sawyer (90) – Auckland, NZ ; Flt Sgt., RNZAF, RCAF & RAF #636536 & #435581

Norman Sooter – Berryville, AR; US Army, WWII

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 15, 2014, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 59 Comments.

  1. Woody was in on some of the most misguided battles the Allies staged in WWII – Monte Cassino and Anzio. Both were bloodbaths. The entire Italian campaign was poorly thought out. Woody was blessed to have come out of those fiascos alive. If it weren’t for the Free French led by Gen. Juin, the Italian campaign would have been a complete disaster for the Allies. Juin and his troops are forgotten heroes – and they were given little credit for how they saved the Allies in Italy at the time. Ike should have sacked Mark Clark. Clark’s ego cost the Allies thousands of unnecessary casualties.

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  2. Great story on Woody, very interesting military history for a young man,
    Still going strong at 90, hats off to a great soldier.
    Ian

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    • I was very happy to locate this story (Just as I am with so many of the vets). Wish there was time, energy and space to get them all! That’s why I need everyone out there to tell ME the stories they know and put them here in the comments . Thanks for taking the time to read, Ian.

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  3. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

    I am really glad to see that you are putting these stories down for people to read. Your images are awesome and articles well done. This story is great, I wish more of the younger set could read these. Thank you for your service!

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    • Thank you very much for the compliments. I don’t see why the younger set don’t, I have quite a few who click the Follow button – but they are doing that thinking I will immediately follow back! Have to correct you on one point – the Gravatar picture is my father, due to his insistence, I never served. Maybe this is my way.

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      • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

        Okay, I understand. My father could not serve either, he was color blind and was deaf in one ear. I think 4F was his classification. When I mentioned the images, I was referring to some of the other pictures, recruiting posters, I think. 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

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  4. “I felt I had to fight for the country. I wanted to end the war.” Now, there’s a statement. Usually, I hear people saying something along the lines of the first sentence. This is the first time I’ve heard anyone say what he said in the second sentence. That’s quite the concept. Going to war with the aim to stop it.

    His heart was in the right place. Those who started it all seemed as though they could go on fighting forever but he was tired of all the loss. He wanted to be part of an effort to finally bring it to a standstill.

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    • You nailed it down perfectly, Allan. That generation produced quite a bunch of very strong people, both the men and women. Thanks for taking the time to read the posts.

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  5. What an inspiring post! We all need to reflect and remember all those who served our country.

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  6. What an American Mr. Gorbach is indeed. And as shown many times, war is being at the right place at the right time, or the wrong place at the wrong time. I am sure he relives some of the horrors each night.

    When I see these men today as well as their photo in uniform so many years ago, life becomes much more humble. They had tremendous hardship and fright while we struggle with insults in social media or complain our hash browns are overcooked. It pains me to see them in their sunset of their lives after giving so much.

    Luckily for these soldiers of old, though, was that their military leaders were competent: Ike, Bradley, Patton, Nimitz, Bolivar, LeMay, Stillwell, etc. Now, our top military leaders have been drummed out. And for Mr. Gorbach to have to still work at 90 while so many millions receive handouts? What gives, America?

    Off my soap box..

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    • I agree with everything, Koji – except one statement. Woody doesn’t HAVE to work – just as many of the Greatest Generation, you just can’t keep them down. He got bored with retirement and went back to work because he wanted to. But – as far as those handouts go — don’t get me started on how people think they are owed welfare money while our veterans do without – now look who is on their soap box!!!

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  7. Thank you for telling us about Sherri, when you speak with her send her my love and prayers….

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  8. I love these stories you share. They should never be forgotten.

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  9. Another brave soldier and an interesting story. Thanks for sharing this one GP 🙂

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  10. I love reading your blog and I think a lot of Sheri. Prayers for Sheri and Tom tonight.

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  11. What a wonderful attitude–every day’s a gift. I need to adopt that.

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  12. Another amazing story. Too bad he can’t get a politician’s retirement. I think all veterans should. But, hey, nobody ever listens to me! 😛 Prayers going out to Sheri and her husband.

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  13. He has a real talent for survival – perhaps, as demonstrated by his ”retirement”. that he refuses to give up!

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  14. Thanks , again , for consistently putting out interesting and meaningful posts .

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  15. And after all of that he is still working at 90! –Curt

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  16. Thank you for such meaningful service stories! My prayers are with you Sherri!

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  17. These are important stories that you share while these men are still alive – 90 and still working is also amazing! Little details like ‘he developed trench foot’ speak to the dreadful conditions, besides the bombs and bullets, that they endured. Hopeful story about the young vet who is making a recovery and has been helped with his own custom built home. These young people are too often neglected by our governments once they’ve done their duty.

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    • I thank you for your comments on Woody and agree totally with your remarks about our younger veterans, Carol. I appreciate your time and concern for these men, they ALL must be remembered.

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  18. Pierre Lagacé

    Reblogged this on Lest We Forget and commented:
    Remembering those who must never be forgotten.

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  19. How amazing that this should be your intermission story for today, because I saw this in our newspaper and thought I must share it with you…http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/europe/10044499/Veterans-to-commemorate-Monte-Cassino … our veterans off to Monte Cassino. Do you have a link that explains the honour flights?
    Sad news about Sheri’s husband. Will be thinking of them and wishing them well.

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  20. I taught with a John Raper at Crystal Lake Middle School in the seventies. He went up those hills. Rarely talked about it. Some guys just kept it bottled up. He was not much of a talker. He had a thick southern accent and the students did not understand a lot of his words so he stuck to paperwork. He worked hard though and always did his job.

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  21. Hats off indeed. What a great story.

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