Saturday, November 10, 2007

Today's the parade....

Tomorrow is the actual day, Veterans Day 2007.
But today is the parade in San Diego honoring our Veterans.
My family has only a few veterans: a couple of multi-great grandfathers who served in the Revolutionary War, great great great grandfather Elijah Spriggs who served in the War of 1812, a great great grandfather Franklin Beamon who served in the Civil War, grandfather Matt Stein who served in World War I, my father Carl Dustin who served in World War II, and Bernie's dad Hal who served in Viet Nam, and a nephew, Michael Falvey, who served in the Gulf War.

I do hope that will be the end of it...I'd rather we never have another generation who needs to go off to war.
I also hope there will always be someone in our family who is willing to defend our country in times of need.

Today's parade will honor San Diego's Veteran of the Year.
This year, like a few other years, that Veteran is my Dad.
Congratulations Dad!
You know how proud I am of you and all you've done to assure that Veterans receive the honor they are due.



Sorry the pictures of Dad while he served in WWII are a tad blurry, they are the best I could get from a jpeg off the web.

Dad served in the Navy, in the Atlantic Ocean aboard a Destroyer Escort. Recently he has agreed to write his memories down in email form.
Every week or so I get another chapter. Last night a chapter arrived about a dog he found and brought aboard ship.
Sometimes when we think of war, we forget there are the most ordinary of days, where young men fulfill their duties while mostly dreaming about a life without war.

To close today's post, I am copying his latest email to me. I hope you will find a glimpse of what a Veteran to be was like when he was in the service as a young man.

FORGOT SOMETHING ABOARD HERZOG.... (note: the name of one of the ships he served on. jill) SEVERAL DESTROYER ESCORTS HAD PETS, USUALLY DOGS. ONE DAY WHILE ON
LIBERTY IN THE PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD I WAS MINDING MY OWN BUSINESS WHEN A CUTE LITTLE DOG ABOUT THE SIZE OF A TERRIER CAME UP TO ME WAGGING HER TAIL. I CAN'T REMEMBER EXACTLY WHERE THIS HAPPENED, MAYBE IN A PARK. I PETTED HER AND SHE WAS REALLY SWEET TO BE SHOWN ATTENTION. NO COLLAR AND NO ONE WAS AROUND OR WALKING HER. SHE FOLLOWED ME FOR A FEW HOURS. ACTUALLY I COULDN'T GET HER TO "GO AWAY." SHE WAS SO FRIENDLY I DECIDED I'D TAKE HER BACK TO THE SHIP AS THE SHIPS MASCOT.

ONCE ABOARD NO OFFICER OR CREWMAN THAT OUT RANKED ME TOLD ME TO GET HER OFF THE SHIP. MATTER OF FACT EVERYONE FELL IN LOVE WITH HER.SHE NEVER MADE A MOVE TO LEAVE THE SHIP BEHAVED HERSELF AND DID HER "JOBS" ON THE END OF THE FANTAIL. MOST OF THE TIME ROUGH SEAS WASHED IT OFF. IN CALM SEAS THE DECKS WERE HOSED DOWN EVERY MORNING. THERE WAS PLENTY OF MEAT SERVED SO FOOD WAS NOT A PROBLEM. EVEN GRUMPY CAPT FYFFE DIDN'T SAY I HAD TO GET RID OF HER. SO I KEPT HER! NAMED HER "TRINIE" AFTER TRINIDAD. .WHEN THE SHIP LEFT TO GO ON PATROL SHE WAS ABOARD AND BECAME REALLY POPULAR WITH EVERYONE BUT WOULD STAY MOSTLY WITH ME AS I WENT ABOUT DOING MY WORK AND STANDING WATCHES. SHE HAD SMOOTH FUR MOSTLY WHITE WITH TAN AND BLACK AREAS.

SHIPS HAVE VERY FEW STAIRWAYS AS YOU NOTICED ON USS SLATER IN NY. SO I ACTUALLY TAUGHT HER TO CLIMB VERTICAL LADDERS. SHE WOULD STOP AND PLACE HER PAWS OVER THE RUNGS WHEN THE SHIP ROLLED TOWARD HER AND CONTINUED TO CLIMB WHEN IT ROLLED AWAY FROM HER. JUST LIKE SAILORS DO. SHE DESCENDED THE SAME WAY. I GAVE HER BATHS, HAD A BOWL OF WATER ETC. I CAN'T RECALL IF SHE SLEPT IN MY BUNK BUT I DON'T THINK SO. I ALSO CAN'T REMEMBER HOW MANY PATROLS WE MADE BUT IT SEEMED AT THE TIME I HAD HER THE SHIP WAS CONVOYING BETWEEN RECIFE AND TRINIDAD.

I REMEMBER THE NEW GUYS WHO CAME ABOARD HAD TO KISS HER ON HER MOUTH DURING THEIR CROSSING THE EQUATOR "POLLYWOG TO SHELL BACK" ORDEAL. I THINK I WROTE THAT I CROSSED THE EQUATOR 14 TIMES. MORE ABOUT THAT COMING UP.

AFTER ONE CRUISE THE SHIP DOCKED IN RECIFE. ALTHOUGH SHE HAD NEVER WENT ASHORE BEFORE SHE DID. NEVER SAW HER AGAIN. MAYBE ANOTHER CREW TOOK HER ABOARD.

ONCE TIME IN RECIFE I SAW CAGES OF BEAUTIFUL BIRDS OUTSIDE A SHOP. A PET STORE. SMALL BIRDS, NOT LIKE PARROTS, BUT GORGEOUS! IRIDESCENT COLORS. ALL THAT ATE FRUIT. ORANGES, BANANAS, AVOCADOS ETC. I THOUGHT JUNE (his then girlfriend, he married her after the war, she's my mom) WOULD LOVE TO HAVE THEM.

SO DUMMY LIKE I WAS I BOUGHT FOUR AND A CAGE. TOOK THEM ABOARD WITH A SELECTION OF FRESH FRUIT KNOWING THE SHIP WAS COMING BACK TO RECIFE IN 20-23 DAYS. MY HOPE WAS WE MIGHT GO THE THE STATES AND I WOULD SHIP THEM TO JUNE. LOOKING BACK...KINDA STUPID IDEA. THIRD DAY OUT AT SEA THE SHIPS PHARMACIST MATE 1ST CLASS SAW THE BIRDS AND RAISED HELL WITH ME FOR BRINGING BIRDS ABOARD. "THEY CAN SPREAD DISEASES TO THE CREW! GET RID OF THEM!" I TRIED TO TALK HIM INTO LETTING ME KEEP THEM UNTIL WE GOT CLOSE TO SHORE ON THE RETURN TRIP. WE WERE AT LEAST 150 MILES AT SEA. HE THREATENED TO "PUT ME ON REPORT" SO I HAD TO RELEASE THEM. I STILL HOPE THEY MADE IT BACK TO THE COAST.

If you have a Veteran among your family, friends or acquaintances, be sure to take a moment and thank them for their service.
And tell them that you are glad they made it home.

2 comments:

Lovella said...

Jill, this is a wonderful story from your Dad. I sure did enjoy reading it. YOu must be so proud of your Dad for all he did during the war.
Our remembrance day is Nov 11. We have much to be thankful for and much to remember.

PS. I just recently read a similar story of a vetran who befreinded a little pup, brought him home and enjoyed his company for years. Some years later after the pup passed away he submitted the story only to find out that the nurse who had lost him abroad lived only doors away from him. There must be so many amazing stories out there. I'm glad to know another.

Sara said...

It was so interesting reading your dad's story. My dad was also in the Navy during WWII, in the South Pacific mostly. He never spoke about it, and he died in 1983, so I'll never know his experiences. I do know he was on several destroyers. As I read your dad's story, I wondered if my own dad's might have been similar on board the ships.

I also at least one Revolutionary War vets in my family, who died while serving under George Washington, during that horrible winter in Valley Forge. And Civil War too I'm sure.