Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veterans Day

Proud Swabby

On this Veterans Day I'm honoring my very own vets. Shown above is my late husband, who served in the Navy during peacetime and became a radar technician.

 At left is my dad, who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II.

He had some horrible experiences in the Pacific, and there was one incident he would never talk about.

He would begin to tell a young man who fell overboard. My dad was the strongest swimmer aboard, so he was strapped into a life vest and sent over the side in a rescue attempt. The attempt failed, due to darkness and heavy seas. My father would always start to cry when he got to this point, even fifty years later, so we never knew who the young man was or how he fell off the ship. My dad could hear him calling for help, and that haunted him all his life.

However, my dad had million funny stories about his adventures as well and he seldom repeated himself.

This is my dad's brother, Uncle Harry. He got to know me (it is said that I took my first steps to him), but I never knew him.

He was killed during a training accident in England when his P-51 fell apart in the air. He is buried in a military cemetery in Tulsa, where his wife lived.

My dad had two brothers. He called the youngest by name, but Harry was always referred to as "my brother."

I had two other uncles who served in World War II. My Uncle Johnny was a sailor in the Pacific. Shell-shock was his souvenir for a job well done. My Uncle Harold (who married my dad's sister)  had the worst job of all. He was a tail-gunner. He told of men crying before they went up because they knew their chances of coming back were very slim. He made it, however.

Because I come from a family of veterans, I felt compelled to adopt some Marines during Vietnam. I didn't like the way returning vets were being treated by protesters, so I wrote to a squadron to let them know someone cared. All of my boys came home alive, but one had the misfortune to step on a mine and loose a foot.

We sometimes forget what veterans do for us. If you need a wake-up call, watch "Saving Private Ryan." When I saw it in the theater, I came home and cried. I can't watch it again, but I think everyone should see it once. You'll ask yourself, how can a man send other men to war, and how the men can go.

Thank you, vets, past and present, for your sacrifice.

2 comments:

karen said...

A very moving and wonderful post on this special day. Thank you.

Montanagirl said...

Terrific post. I have seen Private Ryan...really makes one think.