The story of John R. Elgin, a former nuclear war survivor, comes alive as he tells his family story of living through nuclear holodomor.
Elkins life began on a cold February night in 1943.
“We all went out to dinner at my aunt’s house and I was eating a potato chip, and I remember the next thing I remember, there was a big bang and it blew my aunt and all of us out of the house,” Elgin said.
Elgins uncle and aunt died.
“I think I got killed by a bomb.
That’s the only thing I can think of,” Elgins aunt told him.
“They told us we were going to die if we didn’t get out of that house and to get out we had to run.”
Elgin’s mother was born on March 14, 1943, and died a few days later.
Els parents, father and brother died of typhoid in 1945.
His sister died of tuberculosis a few months later.
“That’s why my aunt was so afraid of me.
She said, ‘Don’t go out in the woods,'” Elgin recalled.
“She said, you’ve got to stay in the house.
That was the first time I had ever felt unsafe.”
Els life in a warzone was not an easy one.
He spent time in a prison camp and spent time at the military hospital where he was treated for tuberculosis.
Elgi’s family had a rough life.
He had to deal with discrimination at the hospital, where he said they were sometimes beaten by guards and the staff was often drunk.
“My dad had been shot twice and he was dying, and my aunt had just been shot and was dying,” Elgs sister said.
“It was very traumatic for them.
They were not allowed to live in peace.”
“We didn’t have a chance.
I was born there, and then I had to leave and get a job, and it was very hard.
I mean, I was so young,” Els mother, aunt and uncle said.
They lived in a home Elgin had built with his aunt and his mother.
Elges family moved to an assisted living facility in Virginia where Elgin met his future wife, Kathleen.
Elgs parents divorced in 1947 and the family moved into a house Elgin owned.
“And that’s where I became involved in politics,” Elgi said.
He worked for the U.S. House of Representatives, where his district office was located.
“As a young person I was involved in a lot of political issues and in the Republican Party, and that was something that I always felt that I wanted to do,” Elges mother said.
That didn’t happen, however.
“You could always be wrong,” Elbin said.
The war did not end well for Elgin.
“A lot of times it got ugly, but I never thought that I was going to get shot in the back,” Elgoins mother said of the war.
Elgoinas family was relocated to a home in Colorado where he lived until 1954, when he died of lung cancer.
Elbin attended the University of Colorado, but he didn’t graduate.
“There were other jobs that I could have gotten out of my life,” Elogins mother explained.
“But I always wanted to be a teacher.”
Elbin was a part of a group of students that went to Washington State to vote for the school board.
He also worked at a restaurant and was a member of the college football team.
“The most important thing was to teach people,” Elgan said.
“[I was] an active person.
I didn’t let people get in my way.
I taught a lot.
I got my degree.”
Elgoines parents moved to California, where Elbin worked as a janitor.
The family returned to Colorado, where they lived in Colorado Springs for a time before settling in a house in Los Angeles.
“For a long time I was a very quiet person, but then I realized that I am a very vocal person,” Elgins mother recalled.
Elgis parents were married in 1955, and they had a son named Ben.
Elgan graduated from Colorado State University in 1958 and joined the Navy, where for the next 25 years he served in Vietnam.
After the war ended, Elgin was a private pilot in Vietnam, where the Vietnam War was raging.
“He was doing very well,” Elgains sister said of Elgin in a 2010 interview.
“Ben and I were both good friends of mine, and we were very close to him.”
Elgi s mother says she was not afraid to speak up when she heard of Elbin s death.
“When he died, I said to him, ‘It is time you die.’
And he was saying, ‘Yeah, it is,'”