Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Father, the Veteran

One of my regrets in life is that I never asked my father very much about his military service. These regrets have bubbled to the surface recently as I followed the events of the Utah Honor Flight—where numerous volunteers and sponsors provided an opportunity for 66 World War 2 vets to fly to Washington DC to visit their monument, and other sites on the Mall. My emotions were very close to the surface as I listened to interviews and memories shared, of experiences that some of the men, in their 80s and 90s, hadn’t spoken of for years. These men were my father’s age, and once again, I realized that I’d not taken the opportunity to learn about this time in his life.

Dad military

Some of the few things that I do know are:

He was away from home, in southeast Idaho—Rockland—living with his Uncle Richard and Aunt Dorothy, attending high school, when he realized that he would be drafted. Rather that wait for that, he returned home, to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, where he enlisted in the Army Air Force. (I just learned, on Friday, why it was the Army Air Force and not the Air Force. There was no Air Force, as it’s own branch, until 1947. I’m sure Dad could have told me that if I’d bothered to ask.)

He was sent to boot camp in somewhere in Texas. I don’t know where. He went down with some buddies, but while there he came down with the flu and they shipped out without him.

While figuring out what to do with him, someone discovered that he had a natural ability to teach and he became and instructor on the base. I’m not sure how long he worked as an instructor, I just know that this is how he realized what he wanted to be when he grew up!

At some point he was sent to Europe. He traveled by ship, out of New York City, and got sea sick. But it seems like he worked through it after a few days and managed to enjoy part of the journey.

He was stationed near Wiesbaden, Germany as part of the post war occupation troops. There was a lake nearby, in which he enjoyed fishing.

I don’t know what his duties were, I don’t even know how long he was there.

I’m grateful for his service and I’m grateful that he avoided the fighting.

I’m grateful to those who gave their lives and to those who returned home safely, so that I enjoy the blessings of freedom.

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