Thank you for your service!

Thank you for your service!

I went to the VA clinic/hospital in Orlando with my husband Bob this week for a routine medical check. Bob has hearing loss, and even with the state-of-the-art hearing aids the VA provided, he still has a difficult time understanding accents and soft voices. I served as his interpreter.

As we waited to be called for his appointment, I watched the many veterans walk by. Some wore hats, shirts, or jackets that identified where and with whom they served. Others, including Bob, presented no such identification, and it reminded me of something I’ve noticed about veterans over the years.

My dad served in the navy for thirteen years. He was a seabee in World War II and went into Nagasaki not long after the US dropped the devastating atomic bomb in 1945. Several years later, he was in the thick of the Korean War, but I didn’t learn much from him because he never talked about his military experience.

I know he lied about his age to join the navy in 1943, mostly to get away from a terrible home life. He believed the military was no place for a married man, so he remained in the navy until he met and married my mother in 1955.

The most I ever heard my dad talk about his military service was during an Honor Flight that took one hundred World War II veterans to Washington, DC, for the day to visit the World War II Memorial. I served as an escort for my dad and two other veterans, and it was such a privilege to be with them and see them thanked and honored throughout the day. It was a great experience I will write about someday.

Clifton J. Charpentier in 1943

My dad falls into the category of veterans who left his military association behind him when discharged from duty. Bob is like that as well. When asked, Bob will talk about his Vietnam War experience at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam, which was responsible for readying planes for bombing missions. He also says how poorly he and other veterans were treated at home during that tumultuous time, but other than that, he doesn’t outwardly identify as a veteran.

Robert BJ "Bob" Guerrette in 1962

I’ve noticed how other veterans easily share their service experience and wear their military garb with pride while others go unrecognized in the general population.

I don’t believe one approach is better than the other. It’s simply a distinction I’ve noticed over the years.

I feel deep gratitude for the sacrifices my dad, Bob, and all other veterans made to give me the freedom I enjoy today, and I cannot say it often enough: thank you for your service from the bottom of my heart.

Are you a veteran? How do you feel about your time in the military? Do you talk freely about that time? Do you have a veteran in your life? Did he or she speak freely about his/her service experiences? Tell us about it.

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Kit Dwyer
8 months ago

What a great topic! Seems I can’t put down a story about a veteran, especially this time of year. I enjoyed all the comments to your post so far. I am inspired by your writing about noticing some vets talk freely about their service while others do not. I knew this, but never verbalized my questions about it. My dad would not talk of his service in the US Navy, nor did my uncles or two husbands. The first husband said it was because he was so disillusioned by the leadership quality during his time in the Navy, and my… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Kit Dwyer
Julie Folkerts
8 months ago

My uncle, Jim, my dad’s older brother, was a gunner on the B52s in WWII. He served 20+ missions. He never spoke about his experiences either. My father tried to enlist but was turned away because of a childhood illness that left several large gashes in his right arm. My husband loves anything book, movie, etc. about WWII. He was #5 in the next draft for the Vietnam War when Nixon stopped our involvement.

Linda Peterson
8 months ago

My husband never served in the military, but his father served in WWI in France, his uncle died of the great plague of ’18 while on board a ship bound for France. He also had seven brothers who also served in various conflicts, from the end of WWII, the Korean conflict, and beyond. Some would talk about their experiences, others, not so much. We also have a close friend who was drafted into the Army out of high school. By late nineteen sixty-eight, he found himself serving in Vietnam. A very few months later, he stepped on a land mine,… Read more »

Norma Beasley
8 months ago

Good morning Life Writers. I have never served in the military but had a friend who did. I wanted to write about some of his experiences but he would never share them with me. Wonderful pic of Bob and dad. Looks as if Bob enjoyed many good steaks. Love ya Bob.

Lori Howard
Lori Howard
8 months ago

I’m a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. I am extremely proud of serving my country, especially as a Marine. I had never met a female Marine until I went to boot camp in 1986. At that time, the Marine Corps was just 6% women; it’s still under 9% now. I talk freely about my service, but I didn’t until I had been out for about 10 years. I did a typical 4-year enlistment and experienced sexual harassment at a level that most people can’t even imagine, so once I worked through the trauma of that I focused on… Read more »

marian gardner
marian gardner
8 months ago

The Father of my two boys, Chris Oliver Caraway (may he RIP) was home from a tour in Okinawa with the Marine Corp in 1965 when we met – we both were students in Gainesville High School but we actually didn’t know each other then. Chris was always in the various schools in Gainesville from grade school and up. I moved there in 1959 for 9th grade. Our graduating class had 365 seniors in 1963 so it is understandable that our paths never crossed. We met at Jerry’s Drive-In on a Sunday afternoon through mutual friends. Chris and I were… Read more »

Catherine Farrar
8 months ago

My stepson joined the army at eighteen. He trained as a paratrooper then a helicopter pilot and planned to become a copter instructor but instead went to medical school while still in the military. During that time, he wrote stories of being in Desert Storm and Afghanistan. He was in the Pentagon when it was hit on Sept.11 and was one of the first responders on the scene. Like his father before him he’s a talented writer. But now, in spite of all his years in the service he rarely mentions it and never identifies as Major. I suspect that… Read more »

Lou Martindale
8 months ago

My father was an airplane mechanic in the Army Air Corps (later the Air Force). He was stationed mostly in Casablanca and other locations in North Africa. He wasn’t front line, but he repaired planes that returned from combat missions. That is all he ever would tell us about his service. I did write his biography before he passed away in 2014. He told me everything about his life except his time serving.

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