In honor of my father on this Father’s Day weekend I want to pay tribute to him with an excerpt from his story that took place seventy-one years ago. He wrote sharing his experiences as a 17-year-old enlistee in the Navy during World War II.
Reading his entire story shows me how Dad became the knowledgeable, discerning, patient and fearless man he was through the encounters he experienced on his own as a young man. Below is the beginning of his story:
“After graduating from Boot Camp we were allowed to leave the base and go into town. San Diego was a pretty town, and the weather was mild for wintertime. I enjoyed my first liberty in San Diego. I was like a child taking in all the new things.
I was asked if I wanted to train as an aerial gunner on airplanes or to serve on submarines. I chose to go into communications as a signalman and was assigned to a three-month signalman training class. After one month of training, I contacted German measles and was placed in the hospital for 11 days.
After departing the hospital, I was dropped from the class that I had been training with and had a month of leisure time waiting for the new class to be formed.
After going through three months of training as a signalman, I was sent to a receiving station to be assigned to a ship. I was assigned to the U.S.S. Coral Sea CVE57.
When I saw the aircraft carrier that I was being assigned to, it looked so big, awesome and dangerous, and I realized for the first time what I had gotten myself into. This was real. The training and the fun I had been having was over, and I didn’t know what was ahead of me. As I walked up that gangplank with my sea bag on my shoulder (which I could hardly carry) for the first time it hit me, I was afraid.”
Dad passed eight years ago at the age of 80, but he is still with us because he recorded his life story that we can read again and again. On this Father’s Day weekend, pull out your laptop or grab a pen and paper and start Keeping Your Memories of your father. If he is still with you, start with asking him the questions below. You will definitely be glad you did.
- Describe who you were as a little boy.
- What is a favorite story from your childhood?
- What did you learn from your parents?
- How are you similar to and/or different from your Mother/Father?
- As a young boy, what did you dream of being one day?