Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day 11-11-11

As you all know, today is Veteran's Day, a very special Veteran's Day 11-11-11.   This day reminds all of us to thank those who have served our country, fighting to preserve our freedoms!   I am so very grateful to those servicemen and women who have sacrificed to make our country great.  One of those servicemen was my father who served in WWII.  I have a few items from his time in the military, along with a few pictures.  Before he passed away, I loved hearing many wonderful stories about his childhood, but he didn't talk very much about his time in the army.  I got the impression that it was something that he didn't really want to share.  He actually told me more about his brother who was captured by the Germans and was able to escape, being shot in the process.  Thankfully, he survived!

My father was inducted into the army in January 1943.  He was discharged in February 1946.  He was 22 years old when he entered the army.   According to his military records, he was doing "general farm work, tending to crops and livestock, repaired farm machinery, and did carpentry work at the time of his induction."  He was skilled in the use of guns, hunting since a young age to help to provide food for his family.  He used to tell me that his brother was more scholarly, having gone farther in school and was well read.  So when he and his brother entered the military, my uncle was put in the infantry carrying a gun, and my father was trained as a Medical Aidman on a hospital ship.  He never understood that decision.
While serving during WWII, my father received the following decorations and citations:  American Theater Ribbon, EAME (European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign) Theater Ribbon with 1 Bronze star, Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, two overseas bars, and the Victory Medal for WWII.  He traveled aboard a hospital ship all over the world, they were responsible for evacuating wounded soldiers.  There he was, a young man, who had grown up in a small farming community in the thumb of Michigan, traveling the world!  I can't remember how many tours he went on, but he said that he was sea sick for three days every time they left port.  Poor Dad! (My Dad is in the center of the above picture)

Here is my Dad's military overcoat.  It's hard to believe that it is 68 years old!  I remember my Dad telling me how much he liked New Guinea and would have liked to go back for a visit.  I think he liked New Zealand, too.  I used to tease him and ask him if it was like "McHale's Navy,"  the old TV sitcom!

One of the hospital ships where my Dad was stationed was the USS Wisteria shown above. According to his discharge papers, he started out as a "private for 3 months, then was promoted to a private first class as a cook's helper, and then served for 21 months as  a Medical Aidman, 18 months evacuating patients from the European Theater.  He was responsible for the following:  administered first-aide treatment to sick, injured, and wounded, treated injuries and wounds such as cuts, blisters, contusions, and lacerations applying medicants and bandaged wounds.  Made splints, treated patients for shock and took measures to stop bleeding by approved methods.  Also served for 5 moths in the Southwest Pacific."   Wow!  (However, the 5 months as a cook's helper did not improve his cooking ability.  His Mom was a fantastic cook, and so is my Mom.  Thank goodness! My Dad's cooking skills were limited and included scrambling eggs, warming up canned soup, and making delicious fudge!)

My Dad is on the right.  I am not sure where this was taken.  His military Separation Center was Camp Atterbury, Indiana.  I do not know where he completed basic training.

My Dad's "dog tag."

My Dad was stationed not only on the USS Wisteria , but also on the USS Wharton, both hospital ships.  I am not sure which ship this is.

My Dad

Dad is on the right
I know that serving aboard the hospital ship was very difficult for him.  The many wounded servicemen /women, especially those that couldn't be saved was, no doubt, overwhelmingly sad.  When he used to watch the TV show "M.A.S.H.", he used to say that the show demonstrated what it was really like in the medical arena during a war. 

My Dad is on the right

A well deserved letter from President Harry Truman

My Dad-  Thank you and the thousands of Americans who serve to protect our freedoms.
 And for me...thank you for being the best Dad ever, I miss you every single day!


  1. What a great tribute to a wonderful father & father-in-law, grandfather, and husband. I am proud to have learned so many things from him.

  2. So very touching --- what an absolutely wonderful tribute and great history lesson for all who read your blog, Gayl! Thank you! tmv

  3. This is such a cool tribute. I found it while researching the WISTERIA hospital ship. My dad served as one of the 3 tech sarges on board this ship. Their duty was mainly communications/radio men.