My father was a WWII Air Force Veteran.
After the battle of Normandy, my dad along with many other military personnel were shipped overseas to France. They were considered the “clean -up crew.”
He never spoke much about his duty but this I do know.
The ocean waters made every one on board sea sick. It took weeks to get to their destination so it was a horrible situation to be in. I’ve often wondered how frightened he may have been. Did he think he would make the trip? Did he think he would come home once his time was served there if he made it across the ocean to begin with? Some died before ever reaching Normandy. Whatever his emotional state was, he never shared that with me.
Dad survived on 24 Clark Candy bars because he couldn’t eat the ship food which was as nauseating as the rough waves.
Once they arrived on the shores of Normandy, I can only imagine what they found. I’m sure they were to find as many American soldiers as they could and bring them home.
While they were there, dad and some of his ship mates gave supplies of food to local French people who were left with nothing after such a bitter war. Many were widows and orphaned children wandering around trying to find whatever they could to get by. Maybe what dad did gave these war ravaged people some hope.
Dad served this country honorably for 2 years because the war had finally ended. He returned home and went to Erskine College, graduating in 3 years on the GI bill. His love of History was his Major.
As a result of his service, one activity dad and I shared was our trips over the years to the local library. He and I were the readers of the family and we would stock up on books to last us a few weeks at a time. He was an avid reader of History books and biographies. He would often share stories of what he had read of other wars and battles from the past.
I don’t think it coincidental that I now live a few miles from one of the largest F-16 Jet Fighter Training bases in the world. Dad’s love of aircraft was something he did talk about over the years. Now, I witness on a regular basis these very machines my dad worked on and loved, fly over my house in amazing formations. These incredible inventions are a sight to behold.
As a member of a community of Air Force/Army personnel, I am humbled and honored to be a part of their lives. Daily, I witness families watching loved ones get deployed, or moved to other bases in the US and around the world. Its a lifestyle I could never do; but then these people are heroes.
And so was my dad.