One year, as a child, I noticed that our street signs were decorated with small American flags as Memorial Day approached. Until that time, I had never given much thought to the name of our street. It was just a street. When I saw the flags, I knew that our street was also a memorial.
I found out, perhaps by doing some research at a library (this was way before the Internet), that our street was named after William Robert Caddy, a war hero. That’s all I found out. I didn’t know what war, or what he may have done in that war. Nevertheless, I was proud to live on a street that was named after a hero.
A little later on in life, perhaps in my teens, I was in the neighborhood of Wollaston Beach. I found myself in a little park by the beach and I noticed a marker. It read: “Caddy Memorial Park.”
Yes, it was named after the same fellow. Obviously, he was an exceptional hero. You don’t get the Congressional Medal without having displayed great bravery and valor. However, aside from the fact of his death, there was no further information.
Then computers arrived, Google was born, and searching for things – and people – became much easier. I finally found out the story behind the man for whom my street had been named.
Birth: Aug. 8, 1925
Quincy, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Death: March 3, 1945, Japan
World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient.
Served with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 28th Marines.
On March 3, 1945, in action against the Japanese on Iwo Jima, Caddy, his platoon leader, and his acting platoon sergeant, were advancing against enemy machine gun fire in an isolated sector. Seeking cover from the murderous fire, the three Marines dropped into a shell hole. After several unsuccessful attempts to advance, he and his lieutenant engaged in a hand grenade battle with the defending Japanese. When an enemy missile landed in their hole, he covered it with his body and absorbed the full impact.
The Medal of Honor was presented posthumously to his mother on September 8, 1946.
(From the “Find A Grave” website – http://www.findagrave.com – I also got the photos from there.)
William Robert Caddy is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii. He had not yet reached his 20th birthday.
I never met the man, of course, but I lived on his street for 37 years. He is the one I remember every Memorial Day and throughout the year.
Perhaps you have an actual relative or friend who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. In any case, would you please take a moment or two to remember a man or woman who made such enjoyments possible for us all?
Duane A. Vachon PhD works at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. He is the author of “Gems From The Antipodes: 12 Collections of Faith-Focusing Insights.” He also writes a weekly column “in The Big Island Reporter”. Reach him at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org/