Sunday, December 1, 2013

War and Remembrance

Dad's recent posting of the after-action report of the skipper of the USS Aulick on the kamikaze attack of November 29, 1944, combined with the anniversary of their 70th wedding anniversary prompted me to go back to read some of his web site.  I encourage you all to do the same.  It is a real gift that he's given us.

Some of my thinking comes from the fact that we now live in a military town.  We're fortunate to have so many young military families in our church and in some small way to know of their joys and sorrows of long deployments.  We just had a young Army wife and her 1 year-son with us and part of our family for Thanksgiving dinner.  Her husband got back early this morning from Afghanistan.  Its hard for me to fully understand the emotions involved in that.  I want to recount another homecoming of 69 years ago in Dad's own words.

Just to set the stage:
He had been at sea for a number of months, at war in a hostile area in the largest war in this country's history.  His ship was just involved in the largest Naval battle in all of history.  Then on November 29, it was attacked by a suicide bomber that killed many, including his good friend Jim Hahn as well as wounded many others.  The ship limped back to the States and Dad eventually got to head for home to see Mom and me.  The following is in Dad's own words from his web site:

" The trip to Ohio was not easy. It was a bad winter, and weather really was a problem all the way. I remember that we had to spend a night in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where I shared a room with an Army officer. Then we flew to North Platte, Nebraska, stayed on the ground for a while and then took off hoping to land at Omaha. But the fog was too thick to land, and we were diverted to Lincoln. Apparently, the forecast for all points ahead was so bad that the flight was cancelled.   We were all put on the train for Chicago. Of course, without train reservations, getting out of Chicago headed to Indianapolis and then on to Portsmouth was a big problem. Then I found out that a coach train called the Trailblazer was going to leave shortly for New York. I knew it stopped in Mansfield after a six-hour ride. That, with a four-hour drive to Portsmouth, would be the best I could do under the circumstances. So I got on, understanding that I might not get a seat. I don't remember if I sat down at all during the trip. The train was full, with many other servicemen aboard.
   My plan almost went awry, because when I got to Mansfield I found out how bad the weather was there too. The streets were full of snow and ice, and my parents' car had not been out of the garage for two weeks. They didn't think I could even get it out on the street. And they thought driving four hours at night in weather like that was crazy. But I was motivated. Even so, it wasn't easy getting the car out. Their garage was at the back of their lot, and the doors opened on to a short drive off a narrow, unpaved street. Actually, it was called Dickson Avenue, but was more of an alley than an avenue. Just getting the garage doors open was a challenge, and the alley was barely passable. But, like I said before, I was motivated.  It was near midnight when I got to Portsmouth, but the problems of the trip were soon forgotten when I greeted Peg, then went up stairs to see Mike for the first time. He lay there sleeping peacefully, unaware of the emotions of the moment."


Truman said...

I just looked at the blog before getting ready for bed. What a nice posting you made. The memory of the trip to Portsmouth via Mansfield is still very clear to me.

Eileen and John said...


I remember that story - it was beautiful and better than any story line from a movie. You set the story so well especially your note about having the mom and child over to your house for Thanksgiving. You have a gift of writing like Dad. You and Dad definitely made me cry again. Thanks for posting.

Mike said...

Thanks Eileen. Dad's story was quite an understatement of the "emotions of the moment". We're blessed that he put his story in writing.

Sarah said...

So glad to read that again!