My own father saw combat on that frontier of freedom.

Does it mean his father experienced the combat? Or is he just a witness?

  • 1
    I think it could mean both
    – Bella Swan
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 6:46
  • 1
    Or it could mean either. Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 8:23

1 Answer 1


It means he was actively involved in the conflict, as a soldier.

This expression is used to distinguish between soldiers who have "back office" jobs, for example working in planning or logistics, and those who are actually carrying a gun.

It doesn't imply that he actually killed anyone, though that is quite possible for a soldier who saw combat.


President Dwight D. Eisenhower never saw combat, but his role as a General and logistical planner was invaluable. On the other hand George H.W. Bush saw combat as a pilot, and John F. Kennedy commanded a torpedo boat.

During World War 2, thousands of women served in the military in support roles, e.g. as nurses, but in Russia some saw combat.

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