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.
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!