My Hero: My Grandfather Essay, Research Paper
My grandfather was a very loving man, he loved his family more than anything he had
known. The only thing that could compare to his love for his family, was his love for his country.
In his life he would have to make many sacrifices for his country, and the second would be
supporting his wife and kids. He took on hardships with ease, he always had a certain calmness to
him, this is something I idolize about him, I would like to learn how to act this way. He?s my
hero because he was special, not like anyone else I have ever met, he knew he was special, but he
never he never flaunted it. In this essay I will try to paint a picture of my hero, and give examples
of why my grandfather is my hero.
In January of 1933, my grandfather was born in the small Pennsylvania town of McKees
Rocks. The second of five children, an older sister Joan, and three little brothers Terrance, John,
and Jerome, all to their parents Robert W. Hileman and Katheryn Conolly Hileman. My
grandfathers? childhood was difficult, because it was part of this depression. When he was a kid
his food was rationed, his family was only allowed so much of certain items sugar, meat, butter,
and other certain things. When he was twelve years old, he got a job at a deli slicing meat, he did
this to help his family out, this demonstrates that even at a young age he was willing to do
whatever it took to help out what with he called ?the cause?, or his family.
His parents were very hard workers, his father was an air brake mechanic, at the
Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, he would put in long hard hours, to support his family. His
mother was forced to work during World War II, she worked at a mill doing riveting work, later
she worked at Bell Telephone. They were a very loving family, but work came first, this left very
little time for their kids. My grandfather being the oldest son, was expected to help out more, one
time when he was about twelve years old, his mom told him ?Bobby, go to the store, and get me
some bread? he said ?OK.? Even though he did not want to go get it, he did it anyway, but as he
went to get the bread, he became angry that he had to go get it, so when he got back to the house
he had thrown the bread onto the roof of the house. This story has great meaning to me, because
it was very rare that he would act out this extreme, especially to his mother, but this did show
how he didn?t fear the consequences no matter how severe it could have been.
He met my grandmother when he was twelve years old, and she was nine years old. They
would go to dances, and they would enjoy each others company in the cheapest way they could,
because their money was limited. After two years the they fell in love, and knew they were
destined to be together. They would talk about marriage, and what they wanted to grow up to
be, and about having children, and how many. In 1948, my grandpap enlisted into the US army,
because he knew he was too young and he didn?t have enough money to get married. He knew
by joining the military, it would open new doors for him. In order to sign up, he changed his birth
certificate. So he said bye to his girlfriend, my grandmother, and left for basic training.
In 1949, my grandpap was sent to Korea. While in the military, he and my grandmother
would write to each other, to keep their relationship in tact. He would serve three chaos filled
years in Korea. While in Korea, he was wounded in three different places during two different
occasions. The first time he was wounded by a hand-grenade, he was hit in the head, which
caused some impairment in his right eye, and he was also hit in the foot, he spent three months in
a hospital where his toe was amputated. He would tell me that when you were hit ?it felt hot at
first, but then it would get cold?. I never quite understood this sensation, because I have never
experienced it, this is one of the many things he tried to teach me about war. He was awarded the
purple heart, for getting wounded in action. The second time he was wounded, he was shot
through the legs, after this he spent more time in the hospital, and was awarded a second purple
heart, because of being wounded in action. He would tell me that when he was in the hospital, he
wanted to go back and get revenge, because he was wounded, and that he felt it was his duty to
go back and fight. He was a very resilient person, he would shake things off like they had never
even happened, in fact I think it made him mentally stronger, but he didn?t bottle it up, he had a
special way of releasing his hostility. I never figured out how he could handle all these things. He
had a great deal of valor, when one of the men in his squadron was hit with scrap metal, from a
hand-grenade he showed this, he kept calm, and used his shirt to stop the blood flow, this allowed
the man to be saved by the medics. For his actions he was awarded the bronze star. He had been
through a lot at a young age, I think this made him mature very quickly, this helped him later on in
life in becoming a better person, at dealing with hardships.
In 1952, the war was over and my grandfather came home from the war. In April of
1953, he married my grandmother, and they bought a house in Scott Township, Pennsylvania.
My grandmother told me that ?When pap came home from the war, he didn?t talk about the war?
and she said this ?caused him to have nightmares, or flashbacks? she then told him that ?if you got
it off your chest, it won?t be so hard on you.? He told his stories to my grandmother, and then he
didn?t have the ?nightmares or flashbacks? anymore. They had five children, William, James,
Charles, Thomas and Daniel. Thomas being my father. My grandpap would tell his stories to my
uncles, and my father, and when I was about nine years old, he would tell me the stories about
when he was in the war. The stories he would tell me were stories of all kinds, many very
gruesome, some funny, but all of his stories are very valuable life experiences, and I wish I would
hear them all again. He would tell me about friends getting killed, by his hands, and by his friends.
One particular story I liked was his story about the nactong perimeter, where he spent three
months, he was given no food, the only reason the military would fly over was to drop
ammunition, he said at one point during this battle, there was a small break that he said ?was a
coffee break that was too short.? He also told me stories about corrupt medics, who would use
the morphine for recreational use, instead of saving it for the soldiers who needed it. He would
also tell me stories about how he and his friends would acquire food, by eating dog, tree bark, and
broken up watermelon. He told me a story about when he was hungry, and he went into a
territory occupied by the enemy to steal pieces of watermelon for himself and his friends. This is
another example of him making sacrifices. he told me ?I signed up to find adventure, like John
Wayne, and boy did I get it.? Sometimes I think this was a dumb reason, but I respect that he was
honest, and told me one reason he wanted to go to war, he also said he thought it would have
been better than what he had at home.
When he retired, he and my grandmother would go on many vacations, many would be to
patriotic sites like Gettysburg, Washington DC, Virginia, and even some historic sites in Canada.
By doing this he showed his love for his country, and history itself, he would do everything to the
fullest. He raised his family to the best of his ability, he was a good family man, and a hard
worker that endured whatever confronted him. This is why he is my hero, because of his strength
and his will to make sacrifices.