A horse collar circles my Russian medal from President Boris Yeltsin.
Photo by Oscar Roloff.
Minus the face piece and heavy boots, here's what I wore during those storm-tossed North Atlantic crossings toward Murmansk.
Photo by Elaine Roloff, my good wife.
by Oscar Roloff
The other day, I received a war medal from Boris Yeltsin, President of Russia, for the part I played in keeping Russia from falling into a juggernaut stranglehold by Germany in World War II.
The country had asked for war material to ward off the enemy. Our country replied with a massive array of aid via cargo ships. My part involved the Barant's episode, in which we shepherded the cargo toward Murmansk, Russia, via the North Atlantic's rough route.
It was winter time and we hit the worst weather in many a year. Cargo ships barely stayed afloat. More than once, our smaller warship nearly went over. It was an arduous task. Onward we went through the savage sea, and at long last we made it.
I have a Navy photo showing one of the cargo ships in dire straits. The picture is one of the top photos taken during World War II.
I have on hand the Navy military gear I wore during that episode. When I received the medal, I put on the now moth-eaten clothing and immediately felt the weight and memory of that episode. I earned that Russian medal from Yeltsin.
I might add that when I dug out that gear I had in a shed and put it on for the photo, I felt movement on my head. I jerked off the head piece to note that moths had been nonchalantly chewing away on what little hair I have left.
That medal, along with other WW II and Korean medals and the Pearl Harbor medal, will be kept in the family for generations to come as a reminder of what once happened when our nation was caught asleep, and how close survival was.