World War II veteran and former Owens-Illinois Glass factory foreman James Bruno Sapp, 94, died Sunday, March 4, 2021, surrounded by family at his home in Alton, Illinois, 3 years after a diagnosis of lung cancer and 7 minutes after his grandson began explaining how a YouTube celebrity made more money in a single week selling NFTs than Sapp, who walked with a pronounced limp for most of his life after losing part of his left foot in a mortar attack and who was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star for his actions in the Pacific Campaign, amassed in his lifetime.
Sapp closed his eyes, shook his head and whispered, “No, God, no,” approximately midway through his maternal grandson’s explanation of the concept of non-fungible tokens. The timing of the veteran’s gesture and utterance couldn’t have been worse.
The grandson, 28-year-old day trader and internet auction entrepreneur Stephen Stromske, mistook his grandfather’s general disgust at the concept as an answer to Stromske asking, “And you know who Logan Paul is, yeah?” when it was a clear indication to the rest of those gathered that the dying man wanted someone else in the family to say their goodbyes.
Instead, Stromske offered a thumbnail biography of the controversial YouTuber, describing Paul as “embattled” in reference to the consequences of Paul’s controversial exploits such as uploading video of a recently deceased suicide victim and joking about his “attempt to go gay for just one month”.
He also gave credence to the regressive idea that the earth is flat to his grandfather, who lived with PTSD related to his service and suffered nightmares about the death of a 17-year-old private in his squad who succumbed to injuries from an attack in which Sapp was shot through both legs but managed to crawl for 36 hours back to safety with the even more severely wounded private on his back, only for the teenager to die on the operating table.
Sapp’s last words were reportedly, “What a waste.” Family members offer varying interpretations of the sentiment, ranging from a meaningless morphine delusion to a comment on the value of Stromske’s contributions to the family to a critique of capitalism and the American dream itself.
As for Stromske, he believes his grandfather’s words were prophetic, as NFTs began to plunge in value by as much as 70% the next day.
Graveside services will be held Thursday, March 8, at Alton National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations or volunteer time be given to giveanhour.org or that mourners “check out some of Stephen’s Pokemon cards and other cool shit on eBay.”