aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Veterans Day memories

I am the son of two WW II vets.

My father was a flight engineer in the Army Air Force, flying out of North Africa, then Italy. He was evacuated to the United States toward the end of the war, after a wall of sandbags his crew were building fell on him, breaking his leg. For a while, he suffered from survivors' guilt, but VA doctors helped him over it.

My mother was a staff sergeant in the WACS, working intelligence in New Guinea. She suffered a nervous breakdown toward the end of the war. Army doctors tranked her up to her eyeballs, and she returned to the States on a slow boat. She struggled with depression and on-again, off-again prescription drug dependency the rest of her life.

All my uncles on both sides were in the war, and all of them were combat veterans. That's quite a feat, considering that there were 16 million Americans under arms, and only 1 million saw actual combat.

The joke around our house was that we would be watching some movie set in Europe, and my father would suddenly interrupt the show, saying, "I bombed that place!" Still, neither Mother nor Dad was ever flippant about their service. They saw terrible things and contemplated terrible contingencies. They counted the cost, and paid it willingly. I have their medals hanging on my living room wall.

Somehow, I never wound up serving in uniform. The times were different, and I was following a different call, I suppose. My son-in-law is a Navy veteran, however, and I am very proud of him for his service.

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