Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

I have seen a few blogs that have shared stories for Veteran's Day and thought I'd add a few of my own. Grace has an excellent story and some artifacts so I'd go over and check it out if I were you. Also check out pics and artifacts over at Margaret Ann's blog .

My family is mostly veteran's of one war or another or have served time in the military. My grandfather's were in WWI where one lost a lung due to mustard gas. The other served with Theodore Roosevelt and was in the Spanish American war riding up San Juan Hill with Teddy as cavalry soldiers back when the cavalry rode horses. They still have the cavalry soldiers, just not the horses.

My parents were both veterans of WWII. My mom was a truck driver for the marines and served at Miramar Air Base making roads. It was a man's job but the men were "over there" so the women filled in. Her biggest peeve over equality (which didn't exist) was when she waited for a train to come in to pick up marines and the Red Cross would not let her have a donut and coffee. It was only for the male soldiers!

My dad served in the army. He fought the Japanese over in all the islands of the Pacific with the most notable being Leyte in the Philippines. He had a tough time as he often had to skip gunfights for hand-to-hand combat. He said the Japanese would herd women and children in front of them for protection so the U.S. soldiers would wait for the women and children to pass and then fight with their bayonets. The (I think it was the 7th Infantry but I could be wrong) has a patch to this day that bears a bayonet on it in honor of their fighting. There was a time when he had to steal his own rations from the base camp as they didn't have the proper paper work for them (everyone with papers and most others kept getting killed off). He received a Purple Heart for a stab wound to the neck. He said the going mode of operandi was take no prisoners, and don't become one. Fighting to the death was the only kind he knew. At one time (my brother has the photo or I'd share it) the soldiers had to wear white patches on their backs. The reason was that anyone without white showing was a target for shooting and it eliminated anyone from turning around to retreat. My brother-in-law never believed dad's story saying the U.S. wouldn't shoot their own but then we found the picture and yep, they would. But to be fair, I think the fighting was so hellish, it was hard not to turn and run at times. When he came home, his sister said he showed up at the door looking like the people shown in the Aushwitz pictures. Dad was almost starved both by lack of rations and not being able to eat due to flies everywhere after a battle going from dead bodies to his food. He just could not eat it then. (Yes, war is hell! That's why I can't stomach the idea of a pre-emptive one).

Next generation - my brothers-in-law and my husband served during the Vietnam era. My husband (I didn't know him quite yet) helped load the big guns on the ship he was on and lost part of his hearing. One brother-in-law went up the rivers in a small boat as Senator Kerry did. One was in the marines and spent one tour on the ground over there. He was a truck driver (yep, like my mom) and said the vietnamese women would sometimes throw their babies under the tires in order to get money from the U.S. government. Before judging them, I would guess they didn't have food or money to care for the rest of their family so took this as hopefully, a last resort. One brother-in-law joined but wasn't called to serve in Vietnam but he served his 20 and finally retired. A cousin of mine was trained to de-arm bombs that didn't go off and just before we pulled out of the war, he ran out of his luck and is now buried in Fort Rosecrans Cemetery. Just after the war ended my sister followed my mom into the marines. My brother followed in my dad's footsteps and joined the army from which he is now retired.

I was set to join the army nursing corps but met my husband and that's the way that story ended. I mention this as you are probably wondering why I didn't serve!

Now, the latest generation is serving in Iraq. My nephew has had three tours in Iraq following one in Afghanistan. He's had three kids in between tours and is finally safe at home with them. He just got home and should be for a long time now as he will become an instructor at a Ranger school in Fort Benning Georgia. He received a bronze star in his second tour in Iraq and has lost some of his friends over there. My son also served in between the Gulf War and Iraq. He served 8 years in the navy in the nuclear power field aboard an aircraft carrier. I also had another nephew, the oldest of the bunch who served in the navy for 6 years aboard a non-nuclear sub.


I thank all who do their duty as veterans and unpopularly, I also salute those who resist war in a truly pacifist notion. Getting out of serving by going to college doesn't earn my respect. So many did this during Vietnam, especially the people with lots of money. No sir, I don't respect letting someone serve in your place because you have the money to avoid it (and that goes for President Bush who served where it was least likely to produce a trip to Vietnam). But real war protesters who are willing to leave their country or go to jail in protest I can understand because war is hell and should be avoided. Sometimes it can't and we have to do the best we can but choosing not to do all that was possible to win in Viet Nam and opting for a war we didn't have to have in Iraq are inexcusable reasons to have our soldiers killed and wounded.

8 comments:

Barbara said...

Hi Timaree -- Thanks for the reminder of what this day is all about.

Carol said...

Hi Timaree
I protest the war, but revere those that serve. It is the government leaders that lead us to conflicts that I hate.

My husband was in Korea when the Pueblo was taken and spent his time there, while others I know faught in Viet Nam. Some I know died.

I honor all Veterans today and thank you for your post. Our men seem to have been forgotten in the last few months with the focus on the election and the economy. Lets hope that everyone who can remembers them in someway, today and in the coming holiday season.

God Bless those who serve and their families.

Sandy said...

God Bless every Vet here and gone and to be - as a AF brat and wife of a Vietnam vet - I thank each and every one who fought for freedom!

Margaret Ann said...

What a family history Timaree...it took my breath away. We must often reflect, like you have done today, about these times of our past and present...and deeply appreciete ...deep in the core of us...the horrific sacrifices individual have made for each and every one of us. God bless the vets...God bless your family! :)

Doreen G said...

Well written Timaree -you have strong beliefs and are proud to stand up for them and I salute you and your family.

Kimmie said...

Amazing stories - especially that your parents survived and you were born. A lot of what is lost in war is never known because of what is cut short and the loss of what could be - families, children, grandchildren - and all to protect those of us at home who have and enjoy those things already. It is a true sacrifice to serve and to serve well.

It's all a confusing and awful mess - I pray our men and women can come home soon .......

Cyndi L said...

My love to all who serve, in whatever way they serve.

GraceBeading said...

What a generous and heroic family you have in all those soldiers! Absolutely amazing. My DH is also a vet of Vietnam and he has some fairly hellish stories as well. He went into the Navy right after he turned 17 and saw things that should never be seen. We lived in San Francisco when that conflict started and I have never seen my DH so distraught. Too many memories, too much loss of innocent life - American and otherwise.

Thanks so much for sharing that part of your family.