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My Family Veterans

Getting into genealogy has inspired me to ask many more questions about the veterans in my family. I never expected to learn even a fraction of what I have lately.

My paternal grandfather got a bug for flying as a child when he was walking home from work in the late 1920s and he went by the local airport in Ardmore, Oklahoma. A guy with a plane offered him a chance to fly. That man turned out to be Wylie Post. In college, my grandfather joined the ROTC and was called up in June 1941 shortly before he could finish his degree in Petroleum Engineering. He served in the Army Air Corps and was stationed in Burma for his longest stint. He was trained to fly the B-25 and C-46, but after a while they told him to get into an unarmed P-38 and go take pictures of the Japanese. After the war, he went back to school to finish his degree and met a freshman girl who caught his eye – my grandmother. My grandfather survived a plane crash during the war and having a boat sink out from under him, but not skin cancer. He passed when I was 11 months old, so I never knew him.

SrwithP38

My dad’s story isn’t nearly so eventful as his father’s story, but he did serve in the Navy during the later years of Vietnam. However, he was never sent over there and his job was primarily making sure people got paid and taking care of the accounting. I’m sure the men who served with him appreciated his ability to do his job. :)

JrNavy

(He’s the second from the right.)

The final picture I have to share was just recently obtained. It’s a picture of CASU-44, my maternal grandfather’s unit in WWII. He enlisted in the Navy, and they put him to work fixing planes because that man can fix absolutely anything. He went to Tinian behind some Marines and, from his stories, was basically working with them most of the time. He was punished for striking an officer after the fresh officer showed up and insulted my grandfather after trying to tell him that the manual said to fix the plane a certain way that my grandfather knew from experience didn’t work. He also told us about getting shot at by the Japanese while delivering ammunition to the other side of the island when he took a wrong turn in the sugar cane. Fortunately, some Marines nearby heard the shooting and pulled him out. My grandfather was put in the hospital when a storm caused the loss of most of their food supplies and they were put on different rations. He couldn’t keep any of it down at all and was no longer able to do as much as the Navy needed him to do. Eventually, he was shipped back to Hawaii and then back home.

CASU-44

(He’s second from the left in the fourth row from the top.)

To relate this a bit back to guns, my maternal grandfather could also shoot a squirrel out of a tree from damn near anywhere, even when other people couldn’t even spot the damn thing. His favorite squirrel gun is still kept loaded by his chair, and it was ordered from the Sears catalog.

8 Responses to “My Family Veterans”

  1. Merle says:

    It’s a good thing to learn about your family. We have traced my Mother’s side all the way back to 1704 in Scotland. Now to start on Dad’s side.

    Merle

    • Bitter says:

      It is very good to do. I also just ordered microfilms to get copies of documents I need to prove an ancestor who served in the War of 1812.

  2. Joe_in_Pitt says:

    Thanks to you and Sebastian for sharing some family military history and most of all for their service.

    I was the first in my family to serve, enlisting in the Navy’s Delayed Entry Program right before my senior year of high school and about a week and a half before 9/11. I went off to basic in July 2002 and then training for signals collection/analysis in Pensacola before getting stationed on an Air Force base in northern Japan from 2003-2005.

    Then in the summer of 2005 I got stationed on the USS Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer out of Norfolk and did one deployment from 2005-2006 to the Persian Gulf, mostly doing Maritime Security Operations (MSO) and Plane Guard for the carrier launching planes into Iraq. A month straight off the coast of Somalia doing some anti-piracy ops was about the only real break in the aforementioned routine.

    By the time I deployed I knew I wasn’t going to make a career out of it, a lot of the collateral BS was wearing me down and the Navy offered me literally zero incentive to stay in, so I separated in the summer of 2006 after four years and have been working as a training and development professional in the private sector ever since. I’m very happy to have served, I met some great people while I was in and had some great experiences, but in the end still don’t regret making the decision to get out.

    • Bitter says:

      Thank you for your service, even if it was for a limited time! I never really thought about my family as serving, but it’s clear they did. In fact, my interest in family history came from wondering just what my Revolutionary War ancestor did during the war.

  3. Your paternal grandfather was a brave man. To get into an *unarmed* P-38 and then fly over the Japanese to take pictures, takes some big (you know what I mean).

    • Bitter says:

      Apparently, the Army gave their pilots there a belt with a bag of gold attached. If they went down and survived, they could use it to bribe people to be friendly and return them. (More was promised upon the pilot’s safe return.) However, my grandfather apparently supplemented that with a diamond he bought in India. When he came home having never had to use the diamond, he had it made into an engagement ring.

  4. Thank you for your service. Much respect.

  5. Neon says:

    My grandfather was in WWI and lost a leg. I still have his uniform. In WWII he worked for Douglas Aircraft building bombsights (he was a jeweler with fine hand motor skills). My Dad was a drummer and trumpet player in Bobby Sherwood’s big band in WWII. He was 4F and therefore fought the battle of entertaining the troops including Tibbit’s group. My cousin flew P-38’s out of Guadalcanal, later was part of the Army Air Force’s Red Devils aerobatics team, the predecessor to the Thunderbirds, flew combat in Korea with P-51’s and later P-80’s and was an instructor at Edwards AFB.

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