May 30, 2005

And the home of the BRAVE

Happy Memorial Day..

CW was a west texas country boy. raised on a farm in turkey, texas, he went to school in quitiqua in the shadows of caprock canyon (pronounced: kitty-quay, farners). that was the big town in the middle of nowhere. CW met his bride one day shopping in downtown quitiqua. Jo took one look at him in that convertible and all sense flew out the window.

They married in august of 1942. What visual images does that strike up for you? CW was 20 years old and fresh out of navy boot camp. He had longed to be a marine but his sight wasn't good enough. He had so many science and pre med courses at Texas Tech that the Navy snatched him up and trained him to be a medic. The same month they married, he shipped out...he signed up to see the world, and what did he see? He saw the Sea...

Here's an oddball twist of fate: at the time, the navy provided medics for the marines, so when CW shipped out to the Pacific for the first time in august '42, he went to join the marines at Guadal Canal.

So what was he? A sailor or a marine? grandmother jo said when he was with the marines, he was a marine (dressed as a marine), serving with marines, and the same when he was with the navy. overall he was an american, doing his part when his country called, and which uniform he wore made no difference.

The Army had been there (Guadal Canal) awhile when the marines came in. CW saw the war's horrors on his first days in the line of fire. The japanese were sniping them from the coconut trees. the troops were stuck in foxholes that they were constantly having to dig anew, because the spread of jaundice and disease was so pervasive in the foxholes. At one point after serving over a year, CW while on tour with the corp, had not had a bath, nor a change of clothes in 30 days. He caught pneumonia and got jaundice pretty bad. he was discharged as "unfit for combat in the pacific" and went home.

When CW returned home, his first born son, Paul, was 13 months old. He had wanted to take a leave to see his son born but the captain told him "hell no, they just need you to lay the keel, they can launch it without you." The way of life he fought to protect was in fact blooming at home without him, but because of him, the captain was right.

CW, though supposedly unfit for combat, was called back up three months later. They were short of medics, always. He served out his four year term in various spots in the Pacific. He received two bronze stars that no one in our family knew about until a grandson started writing a school paper about him in the early 90's. Typical CW, never had room for pride.

No wonder i grew up wondering just what branch of service my grandfather was in. I was born on november 10th, and my grandfather made sure i knew how meaningful that was. My grandfather was WWII vet, a sailor on deck and a marine at heart. he left his medical aspirations in the Pacific Ocean, and became a cattleman instead.

God Bless all the soldiers who stake their lives on our freedom. What a legacy for our country, and definately our way of life.. My hat is off to you and my heart goes out to yours. THANK YOU!!

update: when i called my grandma to ask her a few details she asked about my trip to new york. i told her it was great, but that i left as fleet week was starting and i would have loved to have been there for that. She told me, "..oh no, sailors just have one thing on their minds when they reach the shore...that's one thing i'm sure that is still true today, i'm glad you're home"

Posted by shoe at May 30, 2005 09:25 AM | TrackBack