Monday, May 28, 2007

It's Monday, Memorial Day 2007

My father was in the military and served in WWII in the Pacific. He never talked much about it, having served as a medic in at least 3 campaigns. I know that his dress uniform had a whole bunch - a whole bunch - of ribbons and decorations. He met McArthur and helped establish a medical center in Australia for the allied troops.

He never talked about it much, even though the three sons were fascinated by the military, as are kids. He would tell us about the kangaroos, and the time he was left on an island for three days by mistake, and about all the great guys he met there.

But my mom told me once why his neck would jump and twitch when I was younger. He was deployed over the side of a battleship (a rarity for sure) into landing craft. The guys on the beach came under fire and the captain of the ship turned the big guns over the side and commenced firing. Right over the heads of the guys in hanging on the ladders and the landing craft below. The concussions were agonizing and my dad told my mom that some guys actually died from the concussion. But he never talked much about it.

Once, when I was nearing 18 he and I were out hunting. Funny thing about my dad, he could hit a bullseye at amazing distances but never managed to shoot a deer. (Much later in life I realized that he didn't really want to kill an animal, he just enjoyed being out there "hunting".) We sat on the edge of the Mogollon Rim and I asked him point blank about the war. This was Vietnam and I had to register for the draft soon. My dad was a Lt. Colonel in the reserves.

He was quiet for awhile and then he told me about one deployment he did on some God-forsaken little Island near the Phillipines. It was awful and he was nearly killed twice. They ran out of medical supplies and he and another guy figured out a way to get some more sent in from one of the ships. His buddy was killed right next to my dad as they got the stuff. That is the only thing he told me about and I felt somewhat privileged to be told that.

Because, as I said, he never talked about it much. Being in the service, willing to die for something he believed in, willing to die for his kids yet conceived, willing to give it all for a bunch of guys that were pinned down even though he didn't know them. Some call it sacrifice. Others use bigger terms like heros and honor.

I don't know what my dad would have preferred, as he was a pretty self-deprecating guy with a chest full of medals and ribbons. He never talked about it much.

Just like Google, I guess.

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