When one of my eight children watched a military movie, they would occasionally turn to me and ask, “Dad, did you do that?” I would tell them some things, but I would never expand on those things.
In 24 of those 27 years I served as one of the top printers in the Air Force, I could not talk about all the classified material I saw over most of the world.
My kids knew I was a radio operator on a B-17 bomber at the end of the war as a 16-year-old. They knew that I was flying in the 9th Air Force Air Sea Rescue Service, flying over the Atlantic Ocean looking for downed aircraft and wrecked boats in the water. But they knew very little about my top secret printing career.
They asked me many times to write down the things I did in the military. That’s one of the reasons I starting writing stories for my hometown newspaper, The Mountain Eagle, three years ago.
I had never written a story in my life, but the good writers helped me out many times. I always send a copy of my story to my kids who are scattered all over the country. They love stories, and they ask me, “Dad, did you really do that?”
Our veterans should never take their experiences to the grave with them.
My kids never knew about some very famous people and a couple of presidents I met in my lifetime. On my living room wall I have many awards I received during my military career. My kids want to know everything about those awards when they visit me.
On the front page of the Fairfield, Calif., newspaper this morning is a large, colored print of the Veteran’s National Cemetery, about 10 miles from my home, where the men from my Disabled American Veterans were placing American flags at each grave.
In one of those graves is my wife, who was one of the first 200 to be buried there five years ago. We were together 63 years.
You Letcher County veterans, talk to your family about your military career, and be proud to have served your country.