Veterans Day Memories

Grandma Kc wrote this on November 11th, 2015 17 Replies

Growing up in Jonesville, Michigan Memorial Day and Veterans Day were always big events. They still are today. Memorial Day always includes The Parade and for many years my Dad, Grandpa and Uncle Dick would march, in uniform, in that parade. When Grandpa got older the three of them rode together in a jeep. I was always so proud of them

Daddy, Grandpa and Uncle Dick

As we celebrate Veterans Day today, let me tell you about my Grandpa and his 4 sons.

Grandma and Grandpa

Grandpa served in the Army from 1916-1918 during World War I. He served 2 years overseas in France and Germany and he fought at the 2nd Battle of Marne where he was severely wounded. He had wounds through his abdomen and right arm. According to my Uncle Lynn, the German machine guns fired so rapidly that the bullets became so hot they cauterized the wounds or Grandpa might not have survived.

Years later 3 of his 4 sons would serve in World War II.

My Uncle Dick was the oldest of the 4 boys. At the age of 20, he enlisted in the Navy. He was stationed at “Pearl” as he referred to Pearl Harbor and it was where he was on December 7, 1941. 50 years later in 1991, he wrote an account of his military service and thanks to my Aunt Phyllis, I have a copy of it. Below are just a couple of excerpts.

Uncle Dick in uniform

“Enlisted in the US Navy in October of 1940. The day I was to report to Boot Camp deer hunting season opened and so received a card to report on October 15 with the next class.”

“December 7, 1941 … I sat reading the funnies at 8:00 AM when I heard 2 explosions nearby. Stepped to a porthole just as a plane with red circles on the wings pulled up over the Naval Air Station … I headed for my battle station on a dead run as all hell broke loose.”

Uncle Dick was on board the USS Pennsylvania, which had been moved out of dry dock earlier that same morning or it would have been sunk on the first run. Reading about it all sends chills up my spine. He served until 1946 with a rank of FC2c. See update below

Uncle Dick

My Uncle Lynn enlisted in the USMC Air Corps in June of 1942 at the age of 20, something he had always wanted to do. When I first started writing this post around Memorial Day I asked him to write and tell me about his military service. I found it fascinating that he was named after a friend of my Grandpa who was shot by a German sniper when he went out to repair phone lines. I never knew that!

Uncle Lynn

Here are some excerpts from that letter…

“I flew off the Vera Cruz CVE-119 with torpedo bombers… We were catapulted off the flight deck at a hundred knots, the flight deck wasn’t long enough for the fly aways with a loaded torpedo bomber. …I was very lucky not to be hurt too much. The only problem was the 40mm rifles made such a loud crack that my ears still ring from the noise.”

“…I caught Jungle Fever and was sent to a hospital where they were experimenting with penicillin; it really was a wonder drug but they didn’t know how much was needed…I was able to join a squadron and flew off aircraft carriers from then on. The good thing about the CVE-119s they were built by Henry Kaiser so fast that there were a lot of bugs in them and we spent a lot of time back to USA for repairs and I was never out more than 2 months at a time.”

Glen in his Navy uniform

Daddy enlisted in Naval Air Cadets in spring of 1943 at age 18. Grandma must have been going crazy to have 3 of her 4 sons off fighting in the war. Dad went to V training – for soldiers too young for officer training.
Newspaper article about Glen
Daddy was also sent to electricians and submarine school and was stationed on a sub in the Pacific. In 1946 he was discharged with the rank of Electrician’s Mate Third Class USNR. He was proud of his military service but he was also very proud that he could still get into his Navy uniform!
Glen in his uniform many years later
I wish I had asked him to tell me more about his service but none of them ever talked about it. I do wish I knew more.

Letter from the President

Uncle Putt, who I have written about before, was the youngest of the 4 boys. Since all 3 of his brothers were away at war, Uncle Putt was allowed to stay home and help Grandpa with the farm. Years later, he would join the Hillsdale Police Department and protect the local citizens – a different kind of soldier.

Fortunately for Grandma, all 3 of her sons made it home safely.

Happy Veterans Day to all the soldiers out there and thank you for your service.

UPDATED: December 6, 2015. I spoke with Aunt Phyllis who corrected me on a couple of facts. The USS Pennsylvania had just been moved into dry dock. The USS Pennsylvania was considered the jewel of the Pacific Fleet and the Japanese wanted to destroy her above all. Even though it was in dry dock the USS Pennsylvania was badly damaged and 15 men were killed on board. Also Uncle Dick served with a rank of FC1c.

In honor of today being Pearl Harbor Day I am sharing on the GRAND Social.

17 thoughts on “Veterans Day Memories

  1. Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

    With goosebumps and wet eyes, I thank you for writing this wonderful, historical account of your family and their sacrifice to serve and protect our Country. Interesting that your grandparents had four sons with three serving, and my grandparents had four sons with three serving. We owe so much to each member of our Armed Services, past and present, because they and their families gave so much on our behalf. A sincere thank to you and your loved ones. Peace today on this day of remembrance.

  2. Lisa at Grandma's Briefs

    This is beautiful, Kc. What admirable men in your family. Thank you for sharing.

    I’m deeply grateful for those who have protected our country, gave their lives for all it stood for. Yet I always feel I’ve missed out a bit by not having the legacy of a brave veteran in my family somewhere. My dad served for a little while (Army) but dedication to and love for his country never seemed to be something he stressed. My step-dad served three tours in Vietnam, but it wasn’t discussed much (and I was well out of the house by the time he married my mom). Perhaps I should better research the family tree on both sides and see what I uncover. Maybe there is an admirable veteran somewhere along the line.

  3. Joan Stommen

    What a wonderful family, sacrificing and offering their service! You’ve been sitting on a real gem here, Kc…..this is an amazing recollection! And your uncles were great writers themselves! These old photos are priceless and you have done a beautiful job weaving their stories, articles and historic pictures together! Bravo! This made me tear up for your grandparents…..just imagine! Both sets of my grandparents each had one son and one son-in-law overseas during WWII; reading their old letters shows their fears and worry, but strength and pride too. well done!

  4. Joyce

    Absolutely beautiful, Kc. What a lovely tribute to those handsome young men who served with bravery and distinction. This is a wonderful legacy for Amara. You’ve gathered everything together for her so future generations will know what a special family you are. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be a mother sending three sons off to war, yet so many did that. And they worried and prayed in silence because communication was nothing like it is today. I’m so glad your family story had three happy endings!

  5. April

    The pictures bring back so many memories! Difficult to read without crying. I remember Grandpa, Uncle Dick and your Dad marching in the Memorial Day parade. I was always so proud of them. I remember Grandpa took it very serious. So glad that Uncle Lynn shared his story with you and all the information about Grandpa’s time in the service. As you, I wish that I had asked more questions growing up. Thank you so much for writing this beautiful tribute to them and for sharing the pictures of those handsome young men. Love you.

  6. Sandy Siegel

    What a beautiful post for this special day. Our dad & uncles & grandparents are smiling down on you & are so proud of you for preserving this information not only for Amara, but her kids & the generations to come.

    I agree with you & April – those Memorial Day parades in Jonesville were so special with our very own family heroes marching together in uniform. And I have had the privilege of seeing my own brave sailor, Josh, following in his Grampa Glen’s steps as he marched in the Jonesville Memorial Day Parade in his Navy uniform a few years ago. It was another Memorial Day I’ll never forget.

  7. KImberly

    So handsome. My grandma had four in WWII at the same time. Lands, I can’t imagine. Aunt Lois said she didn’t cry when they left, but she cried when all four came home in one piece. Patricia Polacco’s new book, Tucky-Jo and Little Heart, about broke my heart. If you get it in the library of your school, be sure to read it.

  8. Beth

    What a beautiful Veteran’s Day tribute. You are be able to read the diaries and know what they went through. My father and uncle never talked much about their service in WWII until they were very old and even then you had to ask questions. Thankfully my dad kept a journal which is fascinating to read.

  9. Amara's Grampy

    Beautiful post honey. My family was spared most to what yours went through. I’m glad your father, uncle and grandfather had those years together afterwards. Reading about the attack on Pearl Harbor interrupting your Uncle Dick while he was reading the funnies somehow made it more real as an actual event affecting real people; and their personal experiences in the military brought the whole era closer – and we should never forget.

  10. Debra

    This was very interesting. I was especially interested in your Uncle Dick’s story at Pearl Harbor.
    I was reminded of the movie- Saving Private Ryan, of how your Uncle Putt was able to stay home with your Grandpa to help with the farm.
    Thank you for sharing this family history with us.

  11. Joyce

    I had to come back when I saw this linked at Lisa’s party. I know you will be at school today, telling the story of December 6th to children, who, one generation at a time, are growing away from knowing anyone who was involved in WWII. Your patriotic love of country and of these brave relatives will be long remembered by those students.

  12. Kay Lynn

    Thank you to your family members for serving. My dad was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base on Oahu in the 60’s and worked in a building that still had evidence of the attack on the exterior.

    P.S. I found you via Grand Social but will be back!

  13. Kristi

    I love this, and your other, family history posts. My grandfathers served in WWII, but neither of them ever really talked much about it, either. I, too, wish that I had asked more questions.


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