Friday, November 12, 2010

Flashback Friday # 19 ~ Veteran's Day, 2010

Yesterday was Veteran's Day, so this Flashback Friday give us and you, the readers, an opportunity to reflect on the veterans we knew and loved in our early years. That might include our own service.

Some place I have at least one picture of me in uniform. If I could find it I would put it here.
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Linda asked several questions about us and how we related to family members in or who had been in the Military. Click her icon, right, if you want to read others or participate in this with a blog post of your own.

Linda's questions and then my answers: (you will note that some of these I did not answer as they did not apply to my family situation--they may apply to you)

Were/Are either of your parents or other family members active military personnel or veterans? What branch? When did they serve;

was it during wartime or peacetime? Did they share much about their experiences with you or others? When you were growing up, was the USA (or your country, for those outside the US) involved in a war? What do you remember about it and how did it impact you? Are you, your spouse, or any of your children veterans?

I will start with my parents and uncles. None of them exactly fit the military as their years were mainly between WWI and WWII. For the latter war I do remember that they all had to register for he draft but because they had families and were in an essential industry of farming (later farming would not warrant a deferment) the were passed over by being placed in a category which was mainly never needed.


Two of my cousins were old enough to serve. My cousin, Don, went first, into the U.S. Army. I don't know if he was drafted or enlisted voluntarily. I do remember when the war was over he came home real soon. And he bought a new 1946 Ford Club Coupe as veterans had first priority for buying the new cars. Don then used his GI Bill college opportunity and became second of us nine cousins getting a degree. My cousin, Jean had gone to college and was a school teacher near the time Don came home.

Bud, my other cousin, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. I remember tales of his training more than of his service. During training camp he had to do a 'desert survival' training regimen. He parachuted into a desert, Arizona or New Mexico, without provisions. He has his knife and could have had matches, I don't remember. He survived. When he was discharged he moved to Colorado and became a barber near the University of Colorado campus.

Jean's husband, Dwain, was drafted into the U.S. Army. He trained at Fort Bliss, Texas, for communications. After that he spent the rest of his time in Korea. He came home and became a prosperous and well respected farmer.

I do remember how our family, us younger kids too, respected those guys who were serving. We were so proud of them and we thanked God that they came home alive and with no major injuries. I still get quiet when I think of their service.

Mrs. Jim's brother was not so fortunate. His plane was shot down over Italy. After the war his body was found and returned to New Orleans. Mrs. Jim was not aware of the burial until last year. She had inquired of the Department of Defense thinking his body remains were at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. He was much older than Mrs. Jim and died a few months before Mrs. Jim was born.

I was the next cousin to go into the service. That service time was most of the time between Korea and Viet Nam. While in college I had a draft deferment for that. Then when I dropped out there were many volunteers for the draft and our county quota was always filled.

Wouldn't you know it, but two weeks after I got married I received an order to report for my Army draftee physical. Had I informed the draft board of getting married I would have been deferred again. But they said no 'take-backs.' It wasn't too bad because Korea was over and people weren't even worried about Viet Nam.

When my term was over there was a depression that has been said to have been worse than the one we are in now. I don't think it lasted so long though. That and the end of the war were responsible for the closing of the Elgin National Watch factory in which I worked. And jobs were not to be had.

So I re-enlisted int the Army, this time for a 42-week electronics school. I became a NIKE Missile Control Systems Maintenance person. That helped my self confidence as I graduated third in a class of 143. Two Warrant Officers were ahead of me.

Viet Nam was on when this second term was up so I quickly got out. By then I was an E-5 rank (a private is E-1) I had spent my entire five years in Texas, all but six weeks of it in El Paso. Eleven years later I went back to college on the GI Bill. That was a nice benefit.

My training and two years experience with electronics were responsible for me getting a job with Philco Tech Rep as a field engineer. I served with them seventeen years with most of my time spent at the NASA Houston Mission Control Center as a Flight Controller simultaneously in Simulations and in Mission Operations.

I was the last of the nine cousins to be in the military. In the next generation only one Nephew, Phil, who is the son of Mrs. Jim's sister, Velma. Phil spent 26 or 28 years years in the Air Force in the medics. He ended his service having the rank a Master Sargent and is now working in Texas at a hospital. He too had received valuable training for civilian life. Phil met Lisa, his wife, in his early days of service. At that time she was also in the Air Force.

On Veterans day and perhaps on Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day I feel proud of serving. At other times I have to tell myself that I got more than I put in with the training, and the job itself when the economy was rough. Plus helping with the finishing of college. That generally keeps me from feeling as if I had spent five years for no great value to my country.

Since I was not going to reenlist my work life changed. I as assigned a three-quarter ton truck every working day. I reported to a farmer's barns and horse pens to start hauling horse manure. This manure was for our sergeant's field (in the desert) day room garden. That lasted about two months until I was a civilian. I have a saying when some terrible experience for me is over that getting out of it 'is like getting out of the Army.' Most vets know what I mean.

WE VETERANS ACT MODESTLY PROUD. I DO.

I FEEL SORRY OF ALL OF THE VETS HERE AND IN OUR COUNTRY IN GENERAL WHO ARE HOMELESS AND SLEEP UNDER BRIDGES. SOME ARE ALL MESSED UP MENTALLY AND/OR PHYSICALLY DUE TO THEIR SERVICE. SO MESSED UP THAT THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW TO SEEK HELP. AND EVEN THOSE NOT HOMELESS, SOME ARE SO POOR DUE TO INABILITY TO WORK OR TO FIND WORK.

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Comments:
I enjoyed reading your flashback, as always. Thanks for all the service your family has given to our country.

My mom wore an Elgin watch for all of my growing-up years!
 
Thank you for your remembrance and for your service. You're a good guy.
 
dear mr. jim..it is your pop golden's birthday today..he is 84 years old..
i will be back to read this patriotic post that you have written..love terry
 
I've learned so much more about you with this post. Thank you for your service.

Have a terrific day. Big hug. :)
 
I am proud of the men and women who served our country in uniform and wish that as a society we treated them better.

My grandfather briefly served in WWI — almost immediately upon arriving in Germany he was wounded by an officer having a temper tantrum. My grandfather — then 19 — was assigned to drive some General’s jeep. The general stormed out of headquarters angry about something and in a fit of temper he kicked the driver’s door on the jeep, not realizing my grandfather had his leg sticking out. My grandfather’s shin bone shattered. He walked with a pronounced limp the rest of his life.

My mom and my Aunt both worked at Farragut Naval base in Northern Idaho (yes, I said that correctly, it is a state park and museum now) as Rosie the Riveter. They worked building submarines.
 
You have every right to feel proud. Protecting us so we can do and say what we want is no small task.

Blessings to all of you Service People and your families.
 
My sister and brother-in-law were both U.S. Navy Senior Chief Hospital Corpsmen. He was a submariner.
..
 
That post-war trauma the veterans claim they suffer is real. Frequently, my ex-neighbor would holler and scream in his sleep in the middle of the night, reliving his fighting in Vietnam, and his wife would have to assume the roll of his commander and talk him through it.

So how can anyone who has witnessed such horror "just get over it"?
 

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