Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Honoring our Veterans
Happy Veterans Day to all who have served our country! We honor you today. My dad is a WWll veteran so today is especially meaningful for our family.
I was thinking about my dad and trying to imagine what it must have been like for him. He left his home and family at a young age (he had just turned 18)and headed off to be a part of the army. He got his draft letter in the mail. His dad accompanied him to see if he could get out of being drafted. (They lived on a farm and his help was needed.) A neighbor boy went with them. The neighbor boy got out of it but my dad didn't.
At that time you had to be 19 to touch foreign shores so dad was sent from Fort to Fort--sort of killing time until he turned 19. While he was at Fort Mead, he got an APO number (to get mail). The APO number was associated with New York City. Dad and the rest of the soldiers he was with were happy. This meant they were going to Europe or so they thought. They boarded a train, which supposedly was headed to New York City. The train stopped for water. One of the soldiers looked out the window and said, We aren't going to New York City". The others soldiers said, "How do you know?" He said, "We are stopping in my hometown." It was Scranton, PA.
They were heading west. This meant fighting the Japanese.The train took them to Camp Adair, Oregon. Dad went on to Camp Spotten, CA. While at this Camp, dad was loaded on a ship. He knew for sure that the ship was headed to the Pacific. Dad was still 18 when he got on. The ship went to Hawaii, but he wasn't allowed to get off the ship. They had just stopped to pick up mail. The ship sailed on the Phillipines near Clark Airbase.
He stayed on that base for about 10 days. The ship was loaded up with tanks and trucks. They sailed on to Seoul, Korea where the ship was unloaded. While in Seoul, Dad was in the 60th infantry division. Here he was classified as a scout and reconnaissance. After the war ended he was classified as a light truck driver of small trucks. Dad spent 11 months there.
They were offered a choice to enlist at a higher pay with a choice to go to any country. But once re-enlisted the soldier would serve another three years. Some did that to get a chance to go home on furlough because they were homesick and then they went on to serve in Europe.
My dad got shipped home early. The Army was sending in replacements, so Dad got to go home. On the way back there was a big storm on the west coast. Dad landed up going to the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. He made it to CA and eventually got on a train to Fort Sheridan, Illinois. There he got his discharge papers and money to travel home. He said, "A bunch of us hired a pilot to fly us back. Big ol' plane. No seats--just a wooden plank on the sides." (I'm guessing they didn't care as long as it got them home!)
My dad's older brother was also drafted a year earlier. He saw a lot of action in Okinawa and Iwo Jima. He came back a very changed man and would never talk about his war experience. My dad's younger brother also served in the Korean War.
I'm glad that my dad told us about his military experience. We got a little glimpse into what it was like for him and the soldiers he was with. I'm very proud of him and all who are brave enough, strong enough, driven enough to protect and defend our country and those who aren't able to protect or defend themselves.