In 1916, at age 15, my grandfather lied about his age to get into World War I and because he was considered a clown he was charged with the role of bugler. It seems a rather dangerous assignment, announcing to the enemy in loud, tinny notes your whereabouts–not to mention blowing the thing to wake your weary, mud-soaked comrades at 5 in the morning. But there he was, just barely 16, a bugler in the infantry and on the front lines in France.
According to my father, my grandfather wasn’t much of a talker but he would tell one story: on the front line he and a buddy found themselves under heavy fire and dove beneath a wagon for cover. But a bomb exploded on the wagon and when he regained consciousness he reached out to check on his buddy and his hand went right through his abdomen. He had always figured his buddy died but it would take another world war to find out the real story.