Earlier that week he turned 90 years old. I did a little math and this means he was born on April 4, 1923.
He has always been Pappy Lehman to me. Some people call him Red and his real name is Paul Robert Lehman. Apparently, he used to have red hair and according to my Dad, Pappy had a “red” personality to go along with his hair and name. To me he has always been larger than life, full of love and compassion, with strong callused hands, a scratchy white mustache and hair that is always combed back by the small comb in his pocket.
He was born in rural Pennsylvania and enlisted into the Army. He finished training on a broken ankle and became part of 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment – 101st Airborne Division. I always knew he had been a soldier in the war but never knew many details. About 15 years ago, I remember he sat down and told all his kids and grandkids some stories. He had his military uniform jacket, I got to try it on and it pretty much fit. That was amazing. If you’ve ever watched “Band of Brothers”, you’ve seen what his experience was like. His company was one of the parallel units that fought beside the main characters. My Dad also has a small website to tell some of his stories. http://pappylehman.com/
One of my earliest memories was returning from a family vacation to find that he had built a tree house in one of the trees behind his house. As a young boy, this was just about the most exciting thing ever. His property had wonderful trees on it, just the right size that a small guy like myself could reach the lowest branches so I could take adventures climbing around for hours. Spending time at Pappy and Grandma Lehman’s house was always a wonderful time. His sheds were full of lawnmowers and yard equipment, his basement had a pool table, and there was always Coke and mint tea to drink.
Pappy Lehman always drove a small blue pickup truck. I remember going along to the car dealer when he purchased it. It was only a 2 seater and always had a cap on the back. One summer my sister and I rode the entire way from New Hampshire back to Pennsylvania in the back of the truck. It was an awesome adventure. This truck was the workhorse of Pappy Lehman’s life. He drove that thing everywhere. He was always doing odd jobs and helping people with projects.
Whenever someone had a project around the house Pappy Lehman was always willing to lend a hand. He would bring any and all the tools that one would need and he had more than enough know-how to go around to get the job done. He would selflessly lend a hand and patiently teach us all how to do the job. He would work hard until the job was completed. He always had more strength and energy than the rest of us combined.
Ten years ago, he worked tirelessly the summer I got married to prepare my mom’s backyard for the festivities. He showed me how to rake and prepare the soil for planting grass seed. He told me how much water to use to get it to grow. The wedding was wonderful. I even had him pin on my boutonnière just like he did for my father back in the 70s. Later that year he helped me move all our stuff into our first house.
It has been many years since I lived in central Pennsylvania and Pappy Lehman has moved out of the house I will always remember. He and Grandma have had to downsize, but they are always interested in having visitors.
He is a great man. A great example of Jesus to all. He works hard, caring for everyone, but I would never want to cross him because I am sure that fiery passion that Jesus used to upset the tables would come to the surface to right the wrongs and put anyone back on the proper path.
I love you Pappy Lehman. Thank you for your service to our country and family.