Skip to comments.MEMORIAL DAY--Thread Five--"The Luckiest Boy in the World"
Posted on 05/28/2004 8:09:36 PM PDT by redrock
When I was around 6 or 7 years old (funny how you really don't want to remember some things) my father got hurt while on the job.
The accident broke his spine in half...leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. I remember all the hectic days from that time...and I remember when he was finally stabilized...that he transferred to the V.A. Hospital in Long Beach,California.
I remember going to the V.A. Hospital for the first time.....being surrounded by so many people in wheelchairs...or on gurneys. Men with missing legs....or arms...or eyes. Being as young as I was...it was quite frightening.
There I was...a young boy....standing next to my dad...who still had bruises galore...and still had lots and lots of tubes coming out of him...and going into him. Here was my dad.....a person so full of life....who ran races with me all of the time.....liked to play catch....took me fishing.....looking like he had run his last race.
I thought (in my young boy mind) that my dad was going to die.
I guess that I looked the part of a scared little boy....because my dad grabbed my hand and pulled me close...giving me a hug as best he could.
Then he said quietly ( he had a tracheotomy) something that I didn't really figure out for a couple of years.
"Skipper....look around at this place. Full of old soldiers....sailors....and fliers. You are the luckiest boy in the world."
I didn't understand....but as the tears flowed...I just hugged my dad.
My dad stayed in the V.A. for almost three years...(and afterwards would periodically have to go back for more surgery etc). Long about the second year my dad was there....I began to understand why he said I was the 'luckiest boy in the world'.
Here I was...surrounded by men who had landed at Normandy....or had jumped into France the night before.
Men who had fought their way up Italy.....
Men who had fought the Japanese at Guadacanal....or Iwo Jima....or the Philipines.
Men who had served on the U.S.S. Indianapolis.
Men who had fought at Chosen....or Inchon.
Men who had flown P-51's.....Corsairs....P-38's.....B-17's----B-24's.
Men who had kept their Nation and their families safe.
...and I got to talk with everyone of them...and learn.(although I'm not sure I was aware that I was learning...)
In short....I was surrounded by living History.
And this weekend....You can be surrounded by History too.
Just take some time (an hour will do nicely) and visit the local V.A. Hospital....or Veteran's Home...or Nursing Home.
Visit...and hear first hand...the stories that the men (and women) are wanting to tell. Let them tell of the time off of Iwo that the Kamikaze's tried to sink their ship.....listen to them tell of the night's at Bastogne....let them pass on the stories.
You will be better for hearing them.
....and part of the American Story...will then become part of you.
You will be glad you did.
"That which you do to the least of my Brothers....."
Thank you for that perspective. My daddy was paralyzed from the chest down when I was 5. He was in the VA hospital in Memphis, TN. Dad spent much of the next 22 years, on and off, in the spinal injury ward there. I saw many of the young men coming back from Vietnam. They were such wonderful men, so badly injured, yet full of life. As a little girl, I loved many of them. I saw the war from a very different view than many. My dad has left us for the great fishing hole in the sky, but we will remember him and all those who have fought this Memorial Day.
Thanks for sharing that.
Amazing isn't it. We both have seen men with their bodies torn apart...and yet....they were happy.
I'm starting a collection of the Memorial Day threads by redrock.
I'll ping you when the new one is posted.
This way you'll have the whole collection also.
MEMORIAL DAY--Thread One--"Discussions With a One-Legged Man"
MEMORIAL DAY--Thread Two--"My Daddy's Finally Home..."
MEMORIAL DAY--Thread Three--"The Bodybags of Afghanistan and Iraq"--(Roger's Story)
MEMORIAL DAY--Thread Four--"Welcome Home"
MEMORIAL DAY--Thread Five--"The Luckiest Boy in the World"
God Bless You Brother
Go here for a cool slideshow:
It is great fun. We decorate their day room, sing Christmas carols, the boys that play instruments get to showcase their talents. As a group, we are there all afternoon cooking, decorating, with the boys and their siblings running around.
It creates alot of excitement and activity for the residents. Then after the meal, we hold one of our courts of honor for the boys to receive their awards in scouting. Most of the resident were Boy Scout in their youth so they are thrilled to watch and remember their time in scouting.
On occasion we have retire a flag out on their patio area. It is a VERY emotional experience to watch an elderly Vet struggle to his feet from his wheelchair, to pay his final respects to Old Glory during the ceremony.
If every BSA troop in the US had one event, meeting or did a service project at a VA hospital every other year, there wouldn't be enough days in a year to book all of the events.
#20 of 60 ^
While on board the USS Okinawa, LPH-3, we were heading to Guam when one of the boilers needed to be repaired, and the ship came to a stop. We were dead in the water, but still maintained flight quarters.
On Feb 1, 1980, a CH-46 was chained down and turning on Spot 1 on LPH-3 in the western Pacific, spot 2 was launched first.
Rotor wash from spot 2 came up under the a/c on spot 1, the ship started to lift, pilot rammed collective down to keep ship on deck, but ship bounced. A/C was NOT chained down tight enough, and A/C snapped the chains on the port side of the aircraft, flipped over the starboard side of the ship and went in the water on the port side of the aircraft.
Maj Creel is at the top. He broke 2 ribs, one arm and one leg. He was sent back to Hawaii for recuperation.
GySgt O'Hallorn is the red head leaning over, he died in the late 80's in a CH-46.
With his back to us is SSgt Echevarria, later to retire as MSgt Echevarria from HMX-1 in 1992
Being pulled in is either Cpl Kevin Doering or LCpl Leo Beery. One got pulled out earlier, dont remember. Cpl Doering died from Lupus in 1995 or 96. Leo Beery is a designer and salesman of prosthetic devices in Oklahoma.
Lt James Oscar Hensley is still in the aircraft to this day. I think the chart showed the depth there to be about 6000 fathoms or so.
Crash was on Feb 1, 1980.
Lt James Oscar Hensley III, North Carolina, Semper Fidelis
Thanks Race...it's good to remember.
I didnt take pictures during the crash the next year, I was manning a firehose.
I do have pictures of some damage, and the BEAR bomber that flew over to take pictures of the damage to the ship.
God bless the men that fly and fight. All of them.
O beautiful, for heroes proved in liberating strife.
These are great essays, honoring great men. Happy Memorial Day, red.
Thank you so much for the beautiful testimony and challenge!
Another beautiful story redrock! Thanks for the ping 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub!
Visited my step-grandfather...he was in the Navy during WW2.....he served aboard a transport from Iwo until the end.
Sadly all of my other family members who served in WW2 have passed on.
I had 2 great grandfathers who served in the Navy, and another great grandfather who flew a Hawker Hurricaine for the RAF....he flew during the battle of Britain.
>>You will be better for hearing them.
....and part of the American Story...will then become part of you.<<
....and part of U.S.A.'s freedom fighters history ...will then become part of you, live and up close.
You will be able to almost feel as if you were there with them. Hearing their stories firsthand is much better than reading their autobiographies.
Being able to ask questions of the men and women will make you feel as if you were a part of it.
Holding a mans hand while tears stream down his face as he brags about how his best friend died a hero to the squad is something that you will not tend to forget easily.
Thanks for those great pings! I enjoyed all of them.
Thank you for posting these, redrock!
Thank you for the ping, Tonk!
These gems are bookmarked, both here at FR and home.
God bless our military, past and present!
I was born on Lackland A. F. B. in San Antone, back in '47, to a "lifer".
Dad had served with the 3rd Bomb Group in New Guinea and four uncles had also served with combat units.
I grew up around those guys and still have tremendous respect for that "Greatest Generation".
Good morning, Tonk. How's it going?
MEMORIAL DAY--Thread Five--
"The Luckiest Boy in the World" Wow. Thank you for sharing this story. Don't miss this one, folks.
Please let me know if you want ON or OFF my General Interest ping list!. . .don't be shy.
God Bless America and our soldiers...past, present, future...forever!
Great stuff, redrock! I might just take my 11 year old over to the VA. I hadn't thought of that. Hmmm.....
I need to volunteer again at the VA. I realized after reading your post, how much I miss it.
great piece... :)