Friday, June 27, 2008

A sweet tough guy


My grandfather, Brig. Gen. J. B. Sweet, was a lovely Christian gentleman, whose name matched his nature. He had the Persian Gulf Command during World War II, supplying American war materiel to the Russians via the southern route. Two things about grandpa:

One, his son was a B-24 pilot. When his plane went down, grandpa could not leave Tehran and return to the States to comfort the family and attend the funeral. There was a war on. He had to stay and carry on. I have no idea how he did it. But he didn't give up, he didn't cave in, he didn't get bitter. The Lord was with him, he kept going, and he returned to his family when God allowed him to.

Two, he was a teetotaler. When the Russians hosted a banquet for the Americans -- think of that scene near the end of "Patton" -- at one point the Russian general lifted his glass of vodka and offered a toast to his American allies. Grandpa lifted his empty glass out of courtesy, then put it back on the table, upside down. The Russian was furious. He slammed his fist on the table: "In my house, EVERYBODY DRINKS!" Grandpa slammed his fist on the table and shouted back, "In my house, NOBODY DRINKS!" End of discussion.

And I have never known a sweeter, gentler man.