Today, November 11, 2010 is Veterans Day. Today is the day we are to remember those who have served and protected our freedom. Our right to live, thrive, and even protest (To all you protester’s).
First and foremost , to all who are currently serving, or all that have served our country in any one of the many branches of United States military service I want to extend the largest and warmest thank you to you and your dedication to our freedom and way of life. If it was not for you both past and presently serving I would not have the freedom of writing this successful blog. I have the utmost respect for any United States person of Military service. I have so much respect for those of you who did your duties, both those of you that safely returned and those of you who unfortunately did not make it back. My family has had many soldiers in past wars. My Uncle John served in the United States Army in Guadalcanal in WWII.
My grand father (Dad’s side) served in the United State Army during World War II from 1941-1945.
My grand father (Mom’s side) served in the United States Army during the Korean War.
My Uncle Larry (Dad’s brother) served in the United States Marines Corp in Vietnam.
My Uncle Harvey also served in the United States Air Force during Vietnam. My Uncle Bill served in the United States Air Force during the 1970′s I think. My Uncle Dave (Dad’s brother in law) served in the Air Force in the mid 1960′s. Dave, my co-worker served in the United States Army. One of my closest friends Jeff served in the United States Airforce during Vietnam, although he was stationed at many different bases but then ended up at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.
I have a few students from the school that I work at currently serving in the United States Marines. To all of you I do not have the words that could describe how grateful I am of your service of duty.
Unfortunately I am unable to serve. When I was in high school I had the idea of joining the United States Navy. I wanted to be dressed in the proud uniform upon a ship with a noble name. I had asked a recruiter that had came to my school some questions about the service and what the pro’s and con’s were of each branch. I did not mind the level of difficulty, I was more interested in what they could do for me career wise. After I had gotten the information, he had asked me if I had any injury or disabilities that I knew of. I had mentioned to him that I have problems with my knees but had no problem running and keeping up with the head runners in my physical education class. I should have ran track as I was pretty fast (long strides). He mentioned that the issues with my knees should not be a problem as long as I am able to pass the physical training. Then I proceeded to tell him that I also have 85% hearing loss of my left ear. He told me straight. That alone would disqualify me of any military service. Of which I understand, as it would or could be a safety hazard for both myself and my fellow servicemen. I was heart broken. All I wanted to do was to prove to my family that I could make something out of myself by serving my country and the only thing that was stopping me was a hearing defect from birth. I wanted to be one of the few one of the proud and I couldn’t. So I took up a trade after I graduated instead.
My Grand Father (Dad’s Father) WWII Veteran
My grand father (Dad’s Father) who had served through World War II came through it alive and arrived back in the states. He had toured and had seen all of the best and worst parts of the European Campaign. He toured through Normandy, Northern France, Central Europe, Ardennes, And Rhineland. He received a Bronze Star Medal for an act of bravery in an incident that I am unaware of as he died before he had mentioned to anyone how he got it. We didn’t even know he had it until we visited his grave site in the Golden Gate Military Cemetery in San Bruno.
Here are a few photos of him and a few of his fellow troops during WWII He was in the 47th Infintry Regiment 9th Division:
My Grand father was killed in 1964 in a freak motorcycle accident a block from his home in San Leandro. From what my dad says, or from what my dad can remember (as he was young then) my grand father didn’t speak about the war at all.
He always tried to be upbeat and funny, the joker of the family. He had to of seen many horrible things in his tour as he drank a lot, and would always come home from a bar after being thrown out for fighting. He just must of had a lot that he couldn’t let go..
Later in the late 1990′s my grand mother (Dad’s mother) had given my dad my grand father’s suitcase which had his personal things. Inside the suitcase was his Complete US Army uniform, photo album from the war (which includes certain things that “didn’t happen” and that are too graphic for this blog.) , the folded flag from his funeral, his metals, and also some Nazi keepsakes and souvenirs he must of collected from his travels abroad in WWII.
So one day I decided to try on the uniform just to see what it would look like… It fit perfect.
(Sorry for the such serious look I have on my face)
I even wore it on Halloween one year and also to a WWII themed dance upon the USS Hornet at the Alameda Naval base.
I wear the uniform proudly to represent my grand father and his military career. I never got the chance to meet him due to his untimely death but I kind of feel close to him when I wear the uniform. I never met him but I love him just the same as my grand father on my mom’s side. I have got to know him through his belongings in the suitcase, stories from family members, and memories from my dad when he was a boy. I am proud to show his photos, and artifacts that he brought back from the war. It is a part of history that is a part of my family history. I am also honored to have the same name as him “Douglas Johnson”. If some how grandpa you can read this, if god has internet, thank you for serving our country. I am proud to be your grandson. I only wish I could have got to know you….
My Uncle Larry (Dad’s brother) Vietnam Veteran
My uncle Larry (Dad’s brother) served in Vietnam as a US Marine. He was in the thick over there. He loved to talk about it but I was young when I first knew he had served and I had questions but I never asked him any of them as I knew it made him upset (though he wouldn’t let me know it) Because of that unfortunately I do not know much about his tour of duty. I know few details, such as he was a demolitions defuser. Here are a few photos of him in uniform:
The young kid in the blue is my dad
He served his country well and was honorably discharged. (From a story that I vaguely remember) He had said that when he had arrived home at San Francisco Airport (wearing his uniform) from duty, he was approached by a guy that confronted him, calling him different derogatory names including “Baby killer”. He even spat in my my uncle Larry’s face. I understand that there were many crazy idiots over there that had gone mad and killed anything that moved and even made poor choices and a bad name for the soldiers defending our freedom, but that is NO excuse for what that person did to my uncle. My uncle Larry was a great man. He did what he had to do and served to protect our freedom. Little did he know that the public’s view of him as a vietnam veteran would not be a positive one for some time to come. My dad looked up to him as a brother just as I looked up to him as an uncle. After the war, he tried to live a civilized life with starting a family, raising two kids and working for a living. He divorced, and it was just all down hill from there. He got into drugs, and at one point was staying with this one lady who accused him of molesting her children, which was a total lie. My uncle would never think of doing anything of the sort. Unfortunately back then, the jury would believe the woman more so than the man in a trial of that sort. So for the rest of my uncles life he would be considered a sex offender. He was a hero in my eyes no matter what he was labeled or considered. I admired him for his bravery while serving our country. He had PTSD and often slept with the light on. He lived for a lot of years with my grand mother (Dad’s mom) until she passed away. He would then live secluded by himself for a few years until he got in contact with his sons. His son Mike lived with him for a while but was not the greatest quality of person. My uncle got sick later (mostly from drinking) and had to be admitted to the VA hospital in Martinez of which he stayed for about 2 years. Maybe more. He passed away after having complications with diabetes. He was buried in the veterans memorial cemetery in Dixon California. His wrongly accused appellation was finally removed and he was finally honored the way he should have been. Unfortenatly it was in death.. not life. I don’t care what he did in his life, what he was labeled, or what anyone thought of him, he was my hero. I can’t begin to tell you how I feel about veterans like him that have been through hell and back and are not recognized or honored in the proper manner.
I love you Uncle Larry and I hope you know that you have and always will be a hero to me.
If you are wondering why I have written about both my uncle and my grand father it is that I decided to highlight 2 of my family war hero’s in honor of Veterans day.
For all of you veterans out there, you have my utmost respect, gratefulness, and appreciation for serving and protecting our country of the United States of America. You are what America is. What it stands for. You are the the sole reason I am able to wake up everyday, and not have any sort of fear, worry, or concern about my well being. Thank you ever so much for your time of duty. For those who didn’t make it back, you did not die in vain. Because as long as we have troops.. soldiers.. Americans protecting our freedom and accomplishing victory over terror and evil we will forever have the thoughts, memories, and prayers in our hearts and minds that keep you alive and allow us to honor you both in life and in death. To those of you who are serving or have served, there is no way to fully express my gratitude. To those of you who are currently serving, it is in my hopes and prayers that you return safely state side to your family and loved ones.
Thank you very much for reading,
Also known as Douglas R. Johnson