On Tuesday, Sept. 6, Odell Shipman was buried in Cullman. During World War II, Odell served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific. He was one of hundreds of Cullman boys who did. For those of you who have seen Clint Eastwood’s movie, “Flags of our Fathers”, that story was about the bloody fighting on Iwo Jima. That too, was Odell's story. He drove a landing ship that brought our Marines ashore. It took a direct hit by a Japanese shell and Odell was thrown into the water, one of few to survive. He found himself on the beach, where hundreds of Marines lay dead and dying.
A Marine sergeant offered him a weapon and asked if he knew how to use it. Odell said “not really”. The sergeant said “OK, your job is to tend to these dying Marines.” Odell did just that, on that bloody beach, under fire, for two days, comforting the dying and removing the dead.
It was a nightmare he would relive for the rest of his life. Odell did feel some vindication when many months later he personally witnessed the surrender of the Japanese in Tokyo Bay. He brought home a Japanese flag the size of a small building and frequently displayed it at the VFW on special occasions.
Odell was a lifelong member of Cullman's VFW Post. We saw to it that in his later years he was singled out to be honored at various community events, and rightfully so. For those of us who knew Odell, he will always hold an honored place in our heart. He epitomized the very best of the "greatest generation" in his wartime courage and his peacetime love of country. Thank God America continues to produce men like Odell Shipman who, generation after generation, step forward and make us proud!
Odell, we will miss you. Rest in peace, my friend.
VFW Post 2214, Cullman