11 November 2009
The Story of G.I. John
He was 17 when he went into the Army/Air Corps at the end of WW2.
He was sent to Europe where he fell in love with Deutschland and its people despite the war.
When the war ended he became a member of the search and rescue unit off the coast of Florida, visiting Cuba many times in the years before Castro took it over.
After his tour he got out of the military and became a business man operating a bar/restaurant called the Desert Winds in Winslow, AZ where he met a young woman named Alice, who he would marry.
Although out of active duty for a few years he joined the Army National Guard [the Army Air Corps had been merged with the Air Force].
He missed Korea; however, his unit was activated during the Vietnam War. He would do two tours of duty, one of which he became a POW.
The price he paid in Vietnam was exposure to Agent Orange which led to the failure of his kidneys later in life. He has been on dialysis now for over five years.
This GI's name is John. He, is my father.
The past few days my dad has been laid up in the VA hospital.
I've spent the past few days there with him and the three other veterans who shared a room with him: Don, Ray and Paul. Nice fellas all.
It is amazing how close you can become to some people in just a few days. How men in an enclosed room can share their life story in just a few hours. Talk of regret. Talk of duty. Talk of fear. Of hope.
Of how close they have come to death.
"What ever you do," Ray said to me, "don't get old."
"Too late...I'm half way there", I replied.
While they were there, a group of elderly women came into the room and presented hand made American flag blankets to all four men.
To these ladies I say, Thank You!
To Ray, Don, Paul, veterans and active duty men and women and especially to my dad I say not only thank you, but that I am eternally grateful for your service and the freedom you have given me.
To my dad I also say I love you and will do whatever I can to take care of you and make sure the time we have left together are good times.