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Generations of service: a family heritage

Nina Wood
Kremmling, Colo.

Somewhere recently I read or heard that rural and small town America makes more that its share of sacrifice when it comes to young people going to war. Although I’m not sure what the figures were based upon, I do know there is a kind of heritage of service over the years in families, sometimes through the draft and sometimes as volunteers, that may be attributed to being raised to respect our flag and what it represents. So I wasn’t very surprised when my then-19 year old son informed me he was joining the U.S. Army.

“You know you are about 100% guaranteed to end up in Iraq?” I asked.

“Yes, I know”, he told me. But as he continued to explain the research he’d done and how he felt about doing something for his country, I realized the little boy I raised had been replaced by a young man making his own informed choices. Two grandfathers, uncles, and his father had all done military service, which he knew.

But the details of most of that service had never been detailed to him. Which has made his journey of the next 3-1/2 years quite interesting and has taken me back to what details we know about my dad.

Circumstance, not great timing, brought me home to Colorado for a visit in 1984. My two young daughters needed to visit their grandparents and vice versa. And thus we ended up with my mom and dad in early June of that year, which you may recall was the 40th anniversary of D-Day. As a ranch kid and veteran of WWII, Dad spoke infrequently (and then not very much) about his Army experiences in the Signal Corps. He was drafted into the Army, despite being completely deaf in one ear since the age of 6. He spent time at Camp Crowder, Mo., and Camp Pendleton, Ore., before eventually being sent to Europe by troop ship. That’s when he began smoking.

“The cleanest air I could find was what came through my own cigarette”, he remarked years later. The addiction continued until the days he ended up on oxygen.

Somewhere recently I read or heard that rural and small town America makes more that its share of sacrifice when it comes to young people going to war. Although I’m not sure what the figures were based upon, I do know there is a kind of heritage of service over the years in families, sometimes through the draft and sometimes as volunteers, that may be attributed to being raised to respect our flag and what it represents. So I wasn’t very surprised when my then-19 year old son informed me he was joining the U.S. Army.

“You know you are about 100% guaranteed to end up in Iraq?” I asked.

“Yes, I know”, he told me. But as he continued to explain the research he’d done and how he felt about doing something for his country, I realized the little boy I raised had been replaced by a young man making his own informed choices. Two grandfathers, uncles, and his father had all done military service, which he knew.

But the details of most of that service had never been detailed to him. Which has made his journey of the next 3-1/2 years quite interesting and has taken me back to what details we know about my dad.

Circumstance, not great timing, brought me home to Colorado for a visit in 1984. My two young daughters needed to visit their grandparents and vice versa. And thus we ended up with my mom and dad in early June of that year, which you may recall was the 40th anniversary of D-Day. As a ranch kid and veteran of WWII, Dad spoke infrequently (and then not very much) about his Army experiences in the Signal Corps. He was drafted into the Army, despite being completely deaf in one ear since the age of 6. He spent time at Camp Crowder, Mo., and Camp Pendleton, Ore., before eventually being sent to Europe by troop ship. That’s when he began smoking.

“The cleanest air I could find was what came through my own cigarette”, he remarked years later. The addiction continued until the days he ended up on oxygen.


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