An article featured
in the Spokesman Review,
Sunday August 14, 2005
60 years on, his memories still painful
By: Virginia de Leon
Even now, George Julien can’t bear to watch battle scenes from World War II movies.
It just hurts too much.
Sixty years later, the emotional wounds of war remain as raw as ever, especially whenever he finds himself flooded with memories of gunfire, bloody bodies, the dead comrades he left behind.
“There were so many people who did not make it,” wrote the 81-year-old in his recollections of the war.
“To think about all the living I have had that they gave up makes me want to cry.”
Julien, a lifelong Spokane resident, was 20 years old when the U.S. Army drafted him to fight the Germans in February 1944 .
He started out as a lineman, then became a messenger for the 695th Armored Field Artillery Battalion.
Toward the end of the war, a sergeant assigned him to become a tank driver even though he’d never received any training.
One of the drivers had been wounded in the head, and no one was left to drive the M4 tank, he recalled.
So they turned to Julien, who ended up in a vicious tank battle the following day.
“It was a real strain on me that I would foul up and get us killed, but after a short time I got the crew’s respect,” wrote Julien, who spent hours poring through the tank manual to learn more about his new job.
Being out there in battle was “like living on death row,” he said.
He prayed a lot of Hail Mary’s, fearing that each day would be his last.
“Life was worth nothing,” recalled Julien, his eyes brimming with tears as he described watching friends die and the piles of bodies that littered the streets.
“You got used to seeing death in a hurry.”
The effects of war lingered long after Julien returned home.
For years, he hardly spoke of the atrocities he had witnessed in Europe.
But the memories continued to haunt him.
He suffered from nightmares.
On several occasions, family members found him hiding in a closet, shaking as though he were reliving the trauma all over again.
War also led to permanent hearing loss as a result of being too close to all those explosions.
During one battle, a bomb blast blew out his ears.
Since he was still standing, medics didn’t bother to treat his wounds.
Julien hopes Americans will never forget the lessons of World War II and the sacrifices that were made in the name of freedom.
Only if people remember can we prevent future world wars, he said.
“I was young, I was tough then…But I learned how fortunate I was to come back alive.
Born July 8th 1924 to Mack and Eva Julien in Spokane, WA.
Passed away August 9th 2012, unafraid- in His own home- surrounded by his family.
Served in WWII under George S. Patton, (whom Dad said saved his life).
Was in five major battles including the Battle of the Bulge, two Purple Hearts, Presidential Unit Citation, came home and met and married Pauline Parris April 19, 1947.
Started their own business in 1955 with one small truck, built it into what it is today.
With the help of their friends, they built their dream house with salvaged materials from demolition jobs from around Spokane.
Had many great friends and adventures over the years, always a comedian.
We will ALL see him again.
Special thanks to his personal assistants, Alicia VanAllen, Olivia Milhouse, Donna Galloway, Angela Gardner, Ellen Boyd, Terri Anderson, Jamia Woodard, Javier Salazar.
You all did a beautiful thing for him, (you became his friend.)
Lost two children and raised three children.
Survived by his son Larry Julien, daughters Catherine Julien and Sharon Young.
Also his niece, Linda Sadler, and nephew, Harvey Baker.
His grandchildren Marty Julien, Jess Julien, Julieanne Young, Dallas Young and all the great-grandchildren.
For us- the end of an era, one of the last of the greatest generation.
They went to war when they were kids, and then came home and built a Nation.
In memory of George, if you see someone taking care of a loved one, give them a hand,-pass it on,-that’s what he would want- God knows he did it for a lot of us.
A vigil will take place Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. at the funeral home.
Mass of Christian Burial will be on Monday, August 20, 2012 at 10:00a.m.
at St. Paschal Catholic Church.
2523 N. Park Road, Spokane Valley.
Please visit George’s online tribute and leave a condolence at www.hennesseyfuneralhomes.com.
Click here to comment on this story »