The passing of John Armour makes the world a colder place for all of us. [John Armour, 93, longtime Ridgeland Common employee, Obituaries, Feb. 4]
John Armour was a bright, cheerful person that had lived through hazards and challenges few of us can imagine. After meeting John, I knew that I had met someone who had seen more than his share of the rough side of life. I had a conversation with John some years ago and found out, to my surprise, that he had been involved with the Marine Raiders in World War II. John had been in the Navy and was part of a naval group that dropped off and picked up “Marine Raiders.” The Raiders were an elite Marine commando unit analogous to today’s “Seals,” the major difference being, they were in a shooting war at the beginning of the war in the Pacific. It was a time when what was left of the U.S. Navy (shortly after Pearl Harbor) was trying to recover, keep the Japanese away from Hawaii and Australia and take some type of offensive action.
The casualty rate in the Raiders, and their associated naval transport people, was high. These were the men on the pointy end of the stick and not really expected to come home. John truly was a living history book. Hit the internet and look up “Carlson’s Raiders.” This is history we should remember, and we need to celebrate. Not only this part of John’s life but all of the dedication that he applied to his community and at his little job at Ridgeland Common.
Anyone who ever talked to John walked away with a feeling that they had just talked to one of the world’s happiest men. The positive attitude he always expressed was nothing short of inspirational. It was as if the minor problems that the rest of us complain about were quite simply unworthy of his notice.
Looking at a man who had grown up through the great depression of the 1930s, lived through the trials of war, yet always managed to smile and keep things in perspective, makes me humble. I will miss John’s smile and the feeling I got when he was near that good things do happen to good people. I have a hope that, if I do my best, maybe I could be just a little like him.
So tonight, raise a glass to John Armour, and all the others like him who gave so much and asked for so little.
Mike Grandy is the superintendent of buildings and grounds for the Park District of Oak Park.