The War Hero
Dale Jacobs is writing a special series of articles for the Odyssey Times about Odyssey’s war heroes. Naturally, he’s including Whit, but he’s also found out about several other heroes that fought in World War II, including Connie’s Uncle Joe Finneman. According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Joe received both the Purple Heart and the Medal of Bravery. He single-handedly fought off a Japanese attack and led a group of children to safety during the Battle for New Guinea.
Connie is impressed. She and Dale try to convince Joe to tell the story. But Joe not only refuses, he insists there is no story. Despite Connie and Dale’s encouragement, Joe refuses to talk about his experience.
Then Dale receives word that someone else is looking for Joe, Terence Buganville, one of the children that Joe rescued! Dale arranges for Terence and Joe to meet. Joe still refuses to acknowledge not only the story, but also Terence. Finally, Connie, Dale, and Terence coax the story out of Joe. Joe doesn't think of himself as a hero, he believes he is a coward. He saved the children while he was running away, deserting. Joe can never forgive himself for it.
But no one else sees it that way, especially Terence. He and all of the other children from that night always have thought and always will think of Joe as a hero. That’s what Dale Jacobs writes in the paper the next day, and Connie tells Uncle Joe that she will always see him that way as well. She excuses herself to go watch the Memorial Day parade. Uncle Joe stops her...and asks if there is room for him, too.
- Why did Uncle Joe think he was a coward?
- Was he right?
- Was he right?
- What does it mean to be a hero?
- Do you have a father or grandfather who fought in a war?
- Have you ever talked to them about their experiences?
Heard in episode
- This episode was originally written about Whit rather than Uncle Joe but was adjusted due to Hal Smith's death.
- The episode is the last time Parley Baer voiced on AIO. This last appearance was in 1994, even though his death wasn't until 2002. Baer served in the Pacific Theatre during WWII in real life.
- The story of Joe and Sam at Pearl Harbor mentioned in this episode was told previously in #175: “East Winds Raining”. This episode serves as a follow-up to that episode, with Corey Burton reprising his role of young Joe Finneman.
- This story is told at the War Memorial.
Connie Kendall: Uncle Joe, you fought in World War II, that alone makes you worthy of an article! You're a piece of living history!
Joe Finneman: Connie, Dale. There is no story. Now really. Ok?
Dale Jacobs: Ok, I read ya. But you need to know that I'm gonna keep digging. I think you do have a story and I think it deserves to be told.
Connie Kendall: I think you'll be interested in hearing this. Sometimes it's difficult for us to see the forest through the trees. When most of us look at Joe Finneman, we see a man who fought bravely and was wounded to rescue a group of children he didn't even know from an almost certain death. But when Joe Finneman looks at Joe Finneman, he sees a man who ran. Both from his unit and from those children. So, was he a hero? Well, if you think heroism is never doubting or being afraid like they show on TV and in the movies. Then no, he wasn't a hero. But if you think of it as doing the right thing when it counts, then Joe Finneman is every inch a hero in my book. And remains so for setting the records straight. So here's to you, Joe. It's my sincere hope that someday you'll be able to step back here with the rest of us and see how great the forest really is. I'm going to go back to watch the rest of the parade now, Uncle Joe. But I just wanted you to know that the only person around here who thinks you're a coward is you.