I have been thinking a lot about my father the past few weeks. He has been in the hospital twice (for multiple issues) during the covid-19 pandemic. He is 95 years old and had some major health issues to deal with this spring. And I am thousands of miles away. My wonderful brother, sister and nephew have been caring for him. I wanted to share a little of his story. You can see in the photo above how combat changes a man.
My dad was a Seaman First Class, plane captain, and tail gunner on a PV-1 Lockheed Ventura Navy bomber during World War Two. He enlisted while he was still in high school, and the Navy made him wait until he finished school and turned 18. My uncle Curt had already joined the service before the war.
My Uncle Sam and my Uncle Butch joined after my dad. My dad got to see my Uncle Curt a couple times during the war. Uncle Curt was in combat on Saipan and other battles. Uncle Sam was a medic on Iwo Jima. My dad brought needed materials (beds, bread, and smokes) to my Uncle Sam’s outfit. This is a series of photos of them on Iwo Jima, including a clipping from a local newspaper.
My Dad participated in sixty combat missions during the war. For part of his service he was in VP-133 – Patrol Bomber Squadron 133. The Squadron was noted for being the first to strike the Japanese mainland after the Doolittle Raid.
My father received several medals for his service and was given many citations for his bravery during the Pacific War.
I can very proudly say he was awarded the Air Medal six times and the Distinguished Flying Cross three times for his meritorious service and devotion to duty in combat.
Growing up, I always felt safe with my dad around. I slept well knowing that he was nearby. He taught me a million things, and most importantly he taught me the value of honor and integrity. I have tried my whole life to be an honorable man and to live my life with principles I would never sacrifice. He was a lucky man meeting my wonderful mother. My dad toiled away as a factory mechanic for many years. When I think of him now, at his advanced age, I still think of the young man he once was, and a beautiful part of him still is. I painted this watercolor portrait of my youthful father from the photograph the Navy took after he finished basic training. A fresh faced eighteen-year old.
During my time living in China, I research the Doolittle Raiders. After their bombing of Japan in 1942, they ditched over China and were rescued by local Chinese. My father spoke highly of General Doolittle. My Dad’s squadron was the first to strike the mainland after Doolittle’s Raid. My mother saw the Raiders practicing the incredible short takeoffs they needed for flying a B-25 off a carrier. I wrote a short book about my research, and posted photographs to my Pinterest site including more photos of my father’s service.
I will being praying for my dad’s recovery at home. He built our home with his own hands back in the 1950s while working at the factory, and part-time as a motorcycle mechanic (the best Harley mechanic in the state). He is now and will always be a Hero in my heart. Love to you all.