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Thursday, November 11, 2004

A veteran

Today is Veterans Day in the United States. A day where we honor and thank the men and women who have served this country.

There is one particular veteran I'm remembering. He was a heavy equipment operator on Broadway. But, he never stepped foot in New York. So, what does that mean?

He didn't talk about it a lot. Much of what I know was put together after he died. He joined the Navy in the hope that he wouldn't have to see combat up close and personal. As it turned out, he not only saw combat, he was in it. Some of it was hand to hand, in fact. I know now that it affected him a deep and profound way that no one could fully comprehend unless they experienced it, too. This knowledge has made understanding him easier.

The heavy equipment operator part means he drove a dump truck that was used to haul away the debris, a lot of which was coral. The Broadway part refers to a strip of land on Tinian in the Mariana Islands. In case everyone doesn't already know, Tinian is the island from which the Enola Gay took off to drop the bomb that ended World War II.

Tinian is about the same size and shape as Manhattan, and when U.S. forces occupied it during the war, they laid out a system of roads with the same general plan and orientation as on Manhattan. The main north-south road, for example, is Broadway, and it runs parallel to the other main north-south road, 8th Avenue. (Tinian Airfield)

He was a Seabee (CB = Construction Battalion) in the U.S. Navy during World War II and he was my father. Thank you, Dad.

And, thank you to all the others who came before and since.

Posted by Marie at November 11, 2004 7:30 PM


Beautiful post, Marie. Interesting coincidence: One of my favorite and most influential high school teachers, a guy named G.E. Smith, came from a little village outside Lexington (just northeast of Bloomington-Normal in McLean County). He too served in the Seabees. He's told me several stories about his service -- was in a unit that built the prefab ports in Normandy literally the day after the invasion in 1944. Then they were shipped, by way of the Panama Canal, to the Pacific, where he served for the rest of the war. Don't know whether he was on Tinian, though.

(And, my know-it-all side winning out over my sensitive one, let me just note that the Enola Gay bombed Hiroshima on Aug. 6; it was a B-29 called Bock's Car that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki and prompted Japan to surrender.)

Posted by: Dan at November 16, 2004 12:38 PM