I have quite a few important men in my life...but the very first one was my dad. I've been thinking alot about him lately because I've been reading his book again. What book you might ask?? I'll explain that later. Anyway, I decided to dedicate this post to him. Besides, it's just possible that hearing about my dad might give you a clue as to where I get my undying patriotism and love for the military.
I have to begin by saying that my dad is my hero...always has been and always will be. I grew up listening to his stories about World War II like they were fairy tales. As kids, we would all sit in the floor around his feet and hang on his every word about the many adventures and misadventures he had. He fought the Japanese on faraway Pacific islands that I'm sure you've read about in history books - Bougainville, Guam, and Iwo Jima. He was a proud Marine and, of course, still is. The saying is definitely true...Once a Marine, Always a Marine! Anyway, through his war stories, we came to know the guys he served with and fought beside - the buddies he kept in touch with after the war, the ones he lost touch with, and the ones who never made it back...and there were quite a few of those. Talking about the war was good for dad, but it was also good for us kids. We grew up with a great respect for our flag and our country, and for the troops who defend it. But there was more to it than that. By talking about his buddies, he kept them alive in his memory and brought them to life in ours. What better way to honor someone than to talk about who they were and what they did.
One of dad's friends was a corpsman named "Doc" Love. He treated the jungle rot on dad's feet in the swamps of Bougainville and was the one who rushed Dad onto a hospital ship after he was wounded at Iwo Jima. Dad probably saved Doc's life on the beach during the Guam landing, though. He bandaged a neck wound that Doc received during a mortar barrage when he left their foxhole to answer the call for a corpsman. Doc made it back after the war and he and dad still keep in touch.
Another of dad's buddies was "Red" Jones, a mean, hard-drinking Irishman who picked fights with anybody and everybody and couldn't hold rank because of that. But Dad said he was the best damn machinegunner he ever met, and when the two of them were together, they were unbeatable. When Red was reassigned to another unit before the Iwo Jima campaign, he was in tears as he begged dad to try to get him back in his squad. He said he didn't think dad would make it without him...that they were a team. In a way, he may have been right...dad was wounded at Iwo. Red made it back after the war, but he and dad didn't keep in touch. When dad tried to find him some years later, he found out that he had died in the '50s.
I can't forget Mike Dupnok, the section leader for dad's squad who later became platoon leader when he was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant. Dad said he was quite the Marine and "volunteered" their squad for all kinds of special missions on Guam...by squad, I mean Mike, dad and Red. Mike was awarded the silver star for heroic actions during the Guam campaign. He was just one of dad's many good friends who didn't make it back...he was killed in action on Iwo Jima the same day that dad was wounded.
As my brothers and sisters and I grew up, we encouraged dad to write everything down so it would never be forgotten and so that his grandchildren and great-grandchildren would know about his experiences. It took quite a while, and several computers, but he finally got everything written in book format. My sisters and I have been adding pictures here and there, and as we get each chapter finished, I've begun sending them to the boys to read. I've been trying to get them to read his book for a while, and now that they're older, maybe they will. I'd like them to know more about the man their grandfather is...while he's still around. I know that they'll be as proud of him as I am.
So you see, when I say I'm a military mom/daughter...I'm not kidding. But I come by it honestly...you might say it's in the genes...... :)
Love you, Dad.