During the month of November when we salute our veterans who have served us and active service men and women who still service us. It’s during this time I pause to remember my father, a citizen soldier from World War II.
Most of his life, his most pressing problems were taking care of his family and making certain his children received a quality education from a life sustained on our family farm in eastern Iowa.
With just a high school education, he was a man of strong convictions, faith and many talents. He did not volunteer for the U.S. Army, but when receiving his “Greetings from the President” letter from President Harry Truman upon graduation from high school, he left the family farm and loved ones for a different life.
My father, because he had “typing skills,” became a Classified Mail Clerk. In other words, the material he handled was highly secretive. The only thing he’d tell us about his experience was he delivered some “very important documents” to the upper brass. Plus, he was in charge of issuing weekend passes - it made him a popular guy on base. He also got to read a lot of personal mail – which he said he would never, ever divulge some of secrets between soldiers and their loved ones.
While my father remained stateside for his entire tour of duty, he returned home to work for E.I. DuPont, but he loathed factory work. After saving enough money, he married my mom and purchased the farm where my siblings and I grew up in a small farming community. He lived on the farm until he died in November 2009 of complications from Farmer’s Lung Disease.
My younger brother, William, had dreams of becoming a military officer. While farming was in my father’s blood, it wasn’t my brother’s. He worked diligently during his high school career to achieve strong grades and improve his athletic ability. William was accepted in the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, where he was member of the 200th graduating class of the USCGA. He served on the USCGC Tamaroa in the Perfect Storm of 1991. He was out on the decks with his crew during the rescue of New York Air National Guardsmen who were trying to save members from the fishing boat Andrea Gail.
When my brother retired as a Commander, his son started his Swab Summer at the United States Coast Guard Academy. Today, Andrew is a Lt. j.g. on the USCG Cutter Thunder Bay in Rockland, Maine. Prior to that served aboard the USCG Cutter James in Charleston, S.C.
I’m reminded of the three generations of my family this month as El Defensor Chieftain honors our local veterans and active service men and women.
Today, we are publishing photos of our local service men and women who have served their country in a branch of our Armed Forces. I want to thank our premier sponsors First State Bank of Socorro and the City of Socorro as well as S.I.M.I., Owl Bar, Friends of the Bosque, Socorro County, RC Motive, Dr. Beers DDS, Jackson Ranch, Eagle Hardware, New Mexico Tech and Magdalena Cafe for helping make this publication possible.
I am also honored to work with John Larson, our veteran here at El Defensor Chieftain. John served in Vietnam with the U.S. Air Force from 1967 to 1973. You’ll find his picture in today’s special publication.
Today, one of out every four people who die is a veteran. Plus of the 8 million veterans enrolled in the VA Health Care System, 3 million live in rural areas like Socorro County.
During the month of November, remember to honor and thank local veterans. From the Greatest Generation to the Latest Generation, let’s support our Vets!