In Honor of Navy Day

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My grandfather enlisted in the Navy at the beginning of World War II.

At the time, he figured that it was inevitable he would get drafted and if he enlisted he could at least pick his branch of service.

He picked the Navy, thinking that he would be farther away from the front lines.

He was newly married, a baby on the way.

He wanted to survive.

The finishing touches went on the house he built for my grandmother the night before he shipped out. He built it himself nail by nail. She and the baby never slept a night in that house, moving in with her mother instead.

Stationed in the Pacific, he quickly realized it was not what he had bargained for:

“The problem was that I could not dig a fox hole in a steel deck…”

So, for everyone who has ever faced fear in the Navy…

Thank you.

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18 thoughts on “In Honor of Navy Day

  1. Indeed thank you. The most powerful experience I ever has was talking to a Vet on his death bed. He told me in tears about a horrific situation he was in during the war. I cried with him and thanked him. It changed me. I’ll never forget him or that moment.

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  2. I have an uncle who was with the fleet that went in after the first fleet that landed in Normandy. He had the horrendous job of retrieving fallen men from the water. My dad was young , but does remember that his older brother was sent to a “hospital” for year after he was discharged.
    So I’ve never asked Uncle Al directly about it.
    I should ask my Dad more.

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  3. My grandfather was a Merchant Marine. He used to say, “We weren’t just out there loading bananas, buddy. As soon as we left port, we’d pull the canvas off our (sorry, can’t remember the names of the weapons, I should have listened to him more carefully) because they were trying to sink us too, let me tell you”.
    He was a Third Mate. His crew watched helplessly as their sister ship sink in a terrible storm in the South Pacific – for 60 years, it haunted him.
    He became a strong anti-war activist during the Cold War and Vietnam War. Yet, we all still chime in to sing along at the first strains of:
    “We will cross any ocean, sail any river – give us the goods and we’ll deliver!
    Damn the submarine! We’re the men of the Merchant Marine!”

    Ah, war is heartbreakingly complex….

    Like

  4. Sadly, both my grandfathers were long gone before I was born. Both my grandmothers were also old already and were tired of having taken care of their many kids — one died when I was turning 8 or 9, the other when I was in high school. I never really enjoyed having a grandparent…

    Like

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