A true hero.
Soldiers may be called heroes, even though they are armed to the teeth when meeting the enemy.
Firefighters and policemen are often acting heroically, but they have been properly trained for their assignments.
Saturday I had the honor to meet a true hero, veteran and survivor from WW 2. He went to sea as an apprentice at the age of 15. This was not uncommon for a young boy living on the Norwegian coast, not even when I grew up in the fifties.
A whole lot became fishermen along the coast line, or sailing in small vessels to Arctic or Antarctic waters.
Others followed the big Norwegian fleet of merchant ships all over the globe.
15 years and shortly after their confirmation, their mothers would equip them as well as they could afford, with a trunk of necessities and a Bible on top.
Our hero, Dag Midbø, went out on a ship owned by a local shipping magnate in 1939 and would not set his foot back on Norwegian soil until 1946. He sailed in 50 convoys, an unbelievable number.
The merchant ships were mostly unarmed, and sitting ducks for German planes and submarines. They went in convoys to freight vitals equipment such as tanks, weapon, ammunition and gas to Europe and Russia from the USA. Every tenth civil Norwegian sailor dead at sea during the 6 years of war. Many, I guess about half, were psychologically injured for life. Many war sailors ended up living on the docks of New York, London and New Castle for the rest of their lives. Leaving their ships was not an option during the war. The government declared that would be an act of desertion, and punished thereafter.
Even after being shipwrecked, the sailors were promptly placed on an other old vessel or hulk.
The young sailors were unarmed, not wearing a uniform, but nevertheless the most heroic and momentous Norwegian participants in WW 2. They were sadly not rewarded according to their heroic commitment.
Dag Midbø wrote a book about his 7 years at war, but not until year 2008. The wounds were too deep.
For English/American readers I strongly recommend Alistair MacLean's autobiographical novel HMS Ulysses. It's the naked truth for thousands and thousand of sea men.
Serina and I had the luck to meet with this war hero and his daughter at a small café in Skudesnes called Majorstuen kafe.
Somehow we ended up sitting in the same sofa, and this was how we got his fabulous story.
Dag Midbø came from a lunch held to honor him and the three other remaining local war sailors. He told us, this was only the second time he wore his war medals. They came too late and could never bring him his lost youth back.
His daughter was a lady my age, now a sweet grandmom, and she was very proud of her father. That meant the world to him.
P.S. I'm posting today. July 2nd is my mother's birthday.