Friday, November 11, 2011


Every year on Veteran's Day I think of my dad.  He pretty badly wanted out of a difficult life at home and managed to enlist at 16. Still not sure how he got away with that. He had terrible vision in one eye--Amblyopia I think it was called. It meant that the eye had a visual disorder but looked normal. When it came time to take the eye test he cleverly passed it. When they told him to cover one eye and read the chart he covered his right eye with his right hand. He did great. Then they told him to do the same with the other eye. He just used his left hand this time and covered up that same right eye. Again he did great. He must have really wanted into the service.

This all happened in the 1950s and before too long, before he met my mom, he was shipped overseas to Korea. As war was never declared against Korea--it was actually a police action, but if you asked my dad, he'd tell you it was a war.

I only ever remember catching bits and pieces about his experience there. I know he was a telegraph guy. Knew Morse Code perfectly and for the most part worked on intercepting messages. I recall that he sometimes had bad dreams and I don't know if it was true or I imagined that his angst came from having been in a truck when the driver was shot. If the driver had slammed right they all would have plunged off a cliff. But he slammed left and the rest survived. He was in the front cab as I recall the story going and it was pretty traumatic for him. Again, since he hardly ever talked about the "non-war war" I sometimes wonder if I imagined all this.

I do know for a fact that in the 1990s after the Korean War Memorial was built in Washington my dad came to visit and we went for a walk there. (I'm glad they don't call it the Korean Police Action Memorial) For those of you who don't know this memorial it's just a few steps from the Vietnam Memorial by the Lincoln Monument.  He thought the artists did a great job of creating it. It's right near DCA National and very often you hear aircraft overhead. Spot on. Kind of startled him I'm pretty sure. He said that it was funny that most people think Korea was hot (maybe they confuse it with Vietnam, which by the way was also a police action as war was never declared) but he said it was SO cold all the time. That was his memory.

Dad figured he'd just stay in the military for his whole career but after he got married and us kids started coming along, I guess a better paying job was needed. He did stay in the reserves and every summer for two weeks he'd go train as well as several weekends a year. I was a kid in the 1960s and I think I remember mom worrying that dad might have to go to Vietnam but I'm grateful that that never happened. I'm sure he was too.

So on this 11th day of the 11th month of actually the 11th year of this century I salute my dad and all who have served. Like it says at the Korean War Memorial "Freedom Isn't Free". -Monica

 My dad Joe a few years before he enlisted in the Army

1 comment:

Daddy Luis said...

What a beautiful story Monica. Thanks for sharing. P.S. Your dad was Super cute! inolites