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Happy Vererans’ Day and Thank You!

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I think of my late father and uncles all five of which served during WWII in all three branches of the Canadian Armed Forces (one enlisted underage). Three in the RCAF (two on Lancaster Bombers), one in the RCN (fighting German E-Boats in the English Channel on a Canadian Corvette, than a Destroyer and later on, directly off the French Coast) and one in the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division (this last uncle lived to return from the war only to die in the 1970's from an accumulation of what was in now called PTSD and the injuries he incurred in France, Italy and Belgium).

 

None of my uncles, or my father would even mention the war in front of their families until two did so very late in their lives. My Uncle Ron, while dying in Hospice with Dementia, was reliving his time in the RCN which involved frequent night time battles against U-Boats and the best PT boats of the war in the ETO. Fortunately, the Germans could never build enough E-Boats.

 

My father, always a gentleman, only briefly mentioned the war when he was sharing a hospital room, near the end of his life, with an Ex-German Navy man who had moved to Canada afterwards. Lots of German POW's settled in Alberta after the war. As did many Poles, who had fought against the Germans with the British and Canadian Armed Forces.

 

It was interesting to watch as they hardly spoke in two weeks spent in a tiny two bed room that should have, and had previously been, a single bed room.

 

Wb

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Dad was a Pearl Harbor Survivor. On the USS California, flagship for CINCPAC. He was 'volunteered' to be on the Admiral's staff because he was the only man in the room at the time who knew shorthand. He enlisted at 17 to get off of the farm in Indiana.

So after they mended and limped out of the harbor, the California stayed clear of most of the fray. So Dad was somewhat lucky in that. He was also a survivor of, what was to that day and long after, the worst Naval Maritime disaster. The disaster at Point Honda off the Ca coast in 1923. He was 18 years old then.  Dad was a career Navy Man. He never did learn to swim, however, in all of his life!

Dad also didn't talk of the war. But the loved to tell stories about the mishaps, comraderie, girl in every port Navy stuff. And he was a masterful story teller. He died on his 95th birthday. I love you, Dad. Thank you.

And  thank you to all who have served.

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I remember one time getting a call from the Pacific Area Commander’s aide.  He says, “I heard that you’re tour complete. would you like to come here and be the Admiral’s driver?"

Now, I have no idea how my name even came before the Admiral as I was currently stationed over 2000 miles away -- but somehow they knew who i was.  I didn’t bother getting into the “do you know who i am?" ... I was the most unmilitary person in the outfit, if it was MASH, i’d be living in the swamp and peers with Hawkeye and Trapper.  But, i just told him no that i already had orders to San Francisco and was happy with them.  He said, “I’m sure the Admiral can have those changed; but only if you want.”  I said thanks but no thanks. From what the E8 that i worked for told me, I made the right decision.  Imagine me going to all these high-society gigs with the Admiral. 

Always got marked high in the performance of duty categories and marked low in Military Bearing and appearance (get a haircut, shave, introduce your uniform to an iron).  

For some reason, in a crisis, they suddenly liked the guy with the wrinkled shirt and playing practical jokes. 

 

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5 hours ago, BigStewMan said:

I remember one time getting a call from the Pacific Area Commander’s aide.  He says, “I heard that you’re tour complete. would you like to come here and be the Admiral’s driver?"

Now, I have no idea how my name even came before the Admiral as I was currently stationed over 2000 miles away -- but somehow they knew who i was.  I didn’t bother getting into the “do you know who i am?" ... I was the most unmilitary person in the outfit, if it was MASH, i’d be living in the swamp and peers with Hawkeye and Trapper.  But, i just told him no that i already had orders to San Francisco and was happy with them.  He said, “I’m sure the Admiral can have those changed; but only if you want.”  I said thanks but no thanks. From what the E8 that i worked for told me, I made the right decision.  Imagine me going to all these high-society gigs with the Admiral. 

Always got marked high in the performance of duty categories and marked low in Military Bearing and appearance (get a haircut, shave, introduce your uniform to an iron).  

For some reason, in a crisis, they suddenly liked the guy with the wrinkled shirt and playing practical jokes. 

 

 

Was anyone shooting at him at the time?

 

Given the choice of driving some old brass guy around 2,000 miles away and San Francisco. Which would you take today?

 

Wb

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34 minutes ago, Wolfbane said:

 

Was anyone shooting at him at the time?

 

Given the choice of driving some old brass guy around 2,000 miles away and San Francisco. Which would you take today?

 

Wb

The place I was getting transferred to was geographically where the admiral’s office was.  It was a large place with several different command sharing the base. I just didn’t want that particular assignment; but, my life began down the road in Oakland so “going home” was of interest. 

Moot point anyway -- i ended up getting a promotion a few weeks later and the assignment officer in Washington DC told me to pick between Boston or Long Beach, CA. After pleading for San Francisco and then San Diego, and i kept getting the same reply “Boston or Long Beach” I figured i’d better chose while i still had a choice -- I chose Long Beach. 

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My father was drafted out of Johns Hopkins and made into a 90 day wonder officer in Army Corps of Engineers.  He served in France and the Philippines.  After the war her returned to Hopkins and then married my mother who was a war widow with an infant daughter.  At 24 he was married with an almost two-year-old daughter and had helped win the war.  He and his brother and sister vets were forced to grow up fast.

 

At 24, I was 24 going on 18.

 

Thank you to all vets, to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and to those who returned.  We need to demonstrate our gratitude by doing more to heal those damaged by their service.

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I retire in 7 months... Can't wait! 

 

I also come from generations of military. I never thought I'd stay this long, but I've realized it's time to retire, for me. One of my favorite moments was attending my buddies BMT graduations a couple years ago. 

 

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