December 13, 2006
Monticello - Bells tolled last week for Dec. 7, 1941 — the date that lives in infamy. This story starts the day after.
Young patriots rushed to the nation's defense. Don Karkos tagged along after school as his older brother, Eddie, went to enlist at the Navy recruiting station in Lewiston, Maine. The boy hunched in the back of the room as Eddie answered questions and filled out paperwork. A recruiter barked out at Don, "Hey, kid, whatsa matter, you don't like the Navy?"
"Sir, I'm not old enough," Don told him. "I don't turn 17 until Friday."
"Good enough," snapped the recruiter.
Seaman Don Karkos shipped out of Boston and sailed into the North Atlantic. His was the USS Rapaden, a tanker whose mission was to skirt the German U-boats off the English coast and refuel Allied battleships. On a warm morning in the summer of '42, Karkos was on the Rapaden deck when there was a loud explosion. Twisted metal flew everywhere. Something heavy hit the boy above his right eye, cutting his forehead open.
When Karkos woke up, he was in a military hospital in Iceland. Doctors told him he would never see out of his right eye again. They wanted to remove the right eye. Karkos said, no, might as well leave it in, just for looks.
Karkos returned home to Lisbon Falls, Maine, a small mill town with a woolery. He worked in the mill's weave room for three years, not leaving until he paid off the mortgage on his father's house.
Karkos never regained sight in his right eye. It severely limited his peripheral vision. He'd bump into walls, never knowing what was coming 'round the corner. He had to be extra careful, because if anything happened to his good eye, he'd be completely blind. More hereI love stories like that. What an amazing experience that must have been. This story is close to my heart not only because my dad, who passed away last month, was a WWII vet; but also because my husband is also blind on one side. Unfortunately, though,my husband's eye was removed as it was just so badly damaged.
He lost it a shooting accident some fifteen years ago. The bullet went directly into his eye, stopped before it got to his brain, came back out of his eye socket and was resting just under the skin above his ear. So really miracle enough that he is here at all.
-Tasha Tasha Adams Rhodes Libertarian girl