July 2, 1944: an American soldier slowly walks the steep incline to board a ship for an extended voyage overseas. All around him the city of New York is alive with the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Kids run around the boardwalk chasing each other while the balloons wrapped around their wrists bobble and struggle to catch up. Young couples walk hand in hand as if they are the only two people on earth, unaware of large ships preparing to leave port.
While my grandfather offered land support on the Western Front during World War II, his cousin, Joe Beckman, offered air support in the Pacific over Guadalcanal, New Guinea and the Philippines. Some of his fiercest battles took place over the seaport of Balikpapan.